05 Feb Ten things you didn’t know about the London Underground
With the announcement recently that the London Underground can reach up to 105 decibels, which equates the noise to that of a rock concert; we have decided to put together a list of ten things that you may not know about the London Underground.
- 60% of the London Underground is actually above ground, with most of the outer districts being served by an over ground train. Additionally, fewer than 10% of tube stations are on the south side of the Thames.
- Despite saving thousands of lives throughout the London Blitz, Bethnal Green Station was at the centre of one of the worst civilian disasters during World War 2. Whilst getting to safety underground away from the bombings, panic ensued when a test weapon was launched nearby. A woman carrying a baby and a bundle of bedding tripped and fell down the staircase, meaning surrounding women, children, and men fell around her and were crushed. 173 people were killed and the full details of the tragedy covered up for 65 years after the event; this story has led to the urban legend that Bethnal Green tube station is the most haunted tube station, with many reports of late night tube passengers hearing ghostly screams.
- After the Westminster terror attacks London came together to show strength. As commuters began their day they were met with messages of resilience throughout the London Underground, showing that even in the tube stations, community and determination can be found.
- Over the years, the London Underground has been the setting for many film scenes. From Underground (1928) produced by Anthony Asquith, to the more recent Skyfall (2012) in the James Bond series. Aldwych Station (originally named Strand Station) is a popular filming location as it is no longer in use and looks much the same as it did a century ago.
- Harry Beck was the mastermind behind the now famous tube map. However at the time of its creation he was only paid 10 guineas (£10.50) for its design. The map was considered very out there for its time, but due to a very positive public response it was accepted and became the official map in 1933.
- The trains that first ran along the lines were steam powered. This meant the trains needed somewhere to vent their fumes. To avoid an unsightly gap in the middle of the an upmarket area two dummy houses were erected, 23-24 Leinster Gardens to provide a fake house front to the street, whilst covering up the gap where trains could let off steam. Over the years pranksters have sent pizza, taxis, and deliveries to these addresses.
- Over 1,000 species of flora and fauna have been recorded throughout the London underground, from grass snakes to different types of birds. However, in 1998 a new species of mosquito was found in the tunnels. It had adapted to living off the animals that had come to live in the tunnels such as rats, as well as unfortunate commuters and tube workers.
- During the Second World War the London Underground helped over 200,000 children escape to the countryside. Over the years with that and being a shelter from the Blitz the stations of the London Underground have saved thousands of lives.
- The shortest journey on the tube is just 0.3Km and is between Leicester Square and Covent Garden, taking just 20 seconds. Despite this it is one of the busiest journeys for tourists. In contrast the journey from Chesham to Chalfont & Latimer is 6.3Km.
- There are 270 stations overall on the London Underground, each unique and each taking you to wonderful parts of this incredible city. So, sit back, relax, and please mind the gap as you explore.