Happy Birthday To London Underground
As it’s the London Underground’s 150th birthday, let’s have a few bits of underground trivia.
In the early days of London’s Metropolitan Line, they had waiter service dishing up full English breakfasts for their city-bound clients. This, clearly, was not the Metropolitan Line as we know it. They even loaded horses for hunting and pigs for market into carriages.
After the horrific bombing of Bank station in 1941 a Hungarian doctor was called to the scene and said; ‘You English cannot appreciate the discipline of your own people. I have not found one hysterical patient. If Hitler had been here for five minutes he would have finished the war. He would realise he has got to take every Englishman and twist him by the neck – otherwise he cannot win the war.’
The tube has forty eight ghost stations. Some were regularly announced by the guards who walked through the carriages, and the call of ‘Passing Brompton Road’ was often heard.
Strand station (later Aldwych) became the home of the British Museum’s Egyptian mummies during the war. Now it’s used in period films because it still has its original tiling. It can be visited during the Open London weekend.
North End station was constructed but never made it the surface because people in Hampstead didn’t want the disruption. It now has a house on top of it, No.1 Hampstead Way, but you can apparently access the station via a lift in the house.
There are two tube stations in Kentish Town, not one. The other housed a dodgy sauna and still has a pawnbrokers on top of it.
Anthony Asquith, the underrated director who made ‘The Way To The Stars’ and ‘Pygmalion’, made a silent film called ‘Underground’ that just got rereleased in a new print this week. There’s a trailer for it here: Underground