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London Underground

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1026769.  Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:39 pm Reply with quote

The first person known to have referred to an underground railway system as a ‘tube’ was, fittingly, Queen Victoria, in her journal in 1847. (Source: OED, ‘Tube’.)

The story that the first baby born on the London Underground (in 1924) was named Thelma Ursula Beatrice Eleanor – so her initials would be TUBE – is unfortunately not true. The real name of the first Tube baby was Marie Cordery. US talk show host Jerry Springer was also a Tube baby, born at Highgate station in 1944 when the Underground was being used as a shelter from bombing raids during the Second World War.

There is a species of mosquito named the London Underground mosquito for its habit of biting people sheltering in the Underground during the Blitz. Culex pipiens molestus lives in the London Tube and other underground railway systems.

Harry Beck, who designed the iconic London Tube map in 1931, had actually been made redundant from his job on the London Underground when he came up with the idea. However, the redundancy proved only temporary and he returned to work for the Underground shortly afterwards. Beck’s map ignored the distances between stations and instead showed simply their locations in relation to one another. His map has been likened to a circuit diagram, and Beck even produced a ‘joke map’ of the Tube, with the names of stations and lines replaced with similar-sounding names – for instance, ‘Bakelite’ for Bakerloo. Beck claimed that he modelled his Tube map on a similar mapping design for underground sewage systems. (Source: Ken Garland, Mr Beck’s Underground Map, p. 25.) In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Albus Dumbledore has a scar on his left knee that is the same shape as the London Underground map. To date, Rowling has never revealed its meaning.

More than half of the London Underground isn’t actually in tunnels: only 45 per cent is situated underground, with the remaining 55 per cent being on the surface, making the name ‘London Underground’ something of a misnomer in one sense.

St John’s Wood is the only station name that does not contain any of the letters in the word ‘mackerel’.

The Prince of Wales and Mark Twain were among the passengers on the first journey made on the Central Line in 1900.

Mornington Crescent, the Tube station which inspired the I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue game, was originally going to be called Seymour Street. Somehow, that doesn’t have quite the same ring.

Last edited by interestinglit on Sat Oct 05, 2013 7:36 am; edited 1 time in total

1026785.  Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:20 pm Reply with quote

interestinglit wrote:
St John’s Wood is the only station name that does not contain any of the letters in the word ‘mackerel’.

What? How did anyone bother to figure that out, and how does it have any bearing on anything what-so-ever?

I think it surpasses interesting facts and goes straight into obscure facts.

1026800.  Sat Oct 05, 2013 2:59 am Reply with quote

Thanks for those facts, interestinglit. I like stuff like that.

1026820.  Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:10 am Reply with quote

There should definitely be a whole show on the Underground

Mansion House and South Ealing are the only two stations which have all the vowels in them

At Whitechapel station, the Undergound lines pass over the Overground lines (which are themselves partly underground)

Marylebone station still has it's original name 'Great Central' visible at the far end of one platform
At Arsenal, you can still see 'Gillespie Road' on one wall

There are over thirty 'hidden' underground stations that have been closed, abandoned, re-sited or (in the case of Mark Lane) forgotten about - for five weeks after drivers were told not to stop there, one entrance was accidentally left open and people tried to use it

23-24 Leinster Gardens is a façade
It's a fake five-floor building designed to ,look exactly the same as its neighbours to hide the fact that the Metropolitan Underground Railway ran beneath it

1026835.  Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:27 am Reply with quote

I agree - there's plenty of stuff on the London Underground. And, since my speciality is literature, I'll add that it's fascinated numerous modern poets as a place of alienation and emptiness. Several imagist poets wrote short poems about the Tube, and T. S. Eliot writes about it in 'Four Quartets'.

The late Seamus Heaney even titled one of his volumes 'District and Circle', because of his memories of using those Underground lines in his youth.

And since 1986 there has been the 'Poems on the Underground' project, launched by author Judith Chernaik and designed to bring poetry to Tube passengers.

1026846.  Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:42 am Reply with quote

And thanks, bemahan - glad you appreciate them.

1026859.  Sat Oct 05, 2013 5:06 am Reply with quote

Re mackerel in St. John's Wood, here is a web app for determining other words like it. Surprisingly fun.

1026873.  Sat Oct 05, 2013 6:06 am Reply with quote

I... I stumbled into the wrong sort of nerds. I'll just go back to Tumblr...

1029902.  Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:12 pm Reply with quote

Many of London's stations get a reputation of been haunted. However, it has been discovered that inaudible and high pitched background noise from the electrical equipment on the tube begins to confuse the human brain (in the same way as you can get sick in a car if you can feel movement but don't see it). The difference between what the ear is feeling and what we are hearing puts people on edge enough that any normal noise or movement can be exaggerated into something far more extraordinary, therefore giving people the impression that they have had a ghostly encounter.

1029990.  Sat Oct 19, 2013 8:18 am Reply with quote

London Below is the setting for Neil Gaiman and Lenny Henry's Neverwhere, a fantasy TV series later adapted into a novel and comic book series by Gaiman. Many names of tube stations inspire characters and settings in the story, for example, the angel, Islington, the Black Friars, and the blacksmith, Hammersmith.

1030029.  Sat Oct 19, 2013 12:37 pm Reply with quote

Welcome AprilFool91 - that's an interesting point. Do you have any handy backup material that we could use if we decide to explore that line of thinking?

1030171.  Sun Oct 20, 2013 7:52 am Reply with quote

This page is pretty informative. (With handy links to further pages that I'm currently exploring)
QI is that 18.98 hertz is the frequency that human eyeballs start resonating and if we are around something that emits this frequency we see an optical illusion, or a ghost if you are so minded.

1030251.  Sun Oct 20, 2013 2:19 pm Reply with quote

If a girl is clubbing it up in London and getting hit on by the locals, don't be too surprised to be asked whether you fancy a trip through Baker Street Station, it's the only station where you can get off the Hammersmith line and get into the Bakerloo line in one station.

1030266.  Sun Oct 20, 2013 3:47 pm Reply with quote

Of course, any discussion of the London Underground must include the map. It was originally designed by Harry Beck in 1933.

I particularly like Simon Patterson's "The Great Bear" which is a copy of the map with the lines relabelled by professions and the stations as individuals in those professions. E.g. the Circle Line becomes Philosophers and some of the stations are Plato, Immanuel Kant and Wittgenstein.

1031059.  Wed Oct 23, 2013 3:52 pm Reply with quote

When Museum station on the Central Line closed in favour of an interchange station at Holborn, the rumour went round that the station was haunted by the ghost of the daughter of an Egyptian Pharaoh called Amen-ra. It was said that she would suddenly appear and scream, so loudly that the noise could be heard at the next stations. This haunting was emphasised when a train slowed to a stop at the platform of the closed station and a passenger managed to get off to remain stranded for a while.


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