This past weekend I found myself at the Transportation for London Ltd Headquarters located at St. James Park in London, to listen to a lecture on a brief history of the London Underground by David Leboff! He is the go-to man on everything underground, and has written various books and appeared on television on the topic (seriously, Google him!).
The trip into central London was so-so, as there were multiple disruptions on many of the major lines, two of which required me to use in order to reach my destination.
Side-note: Prepare ahead of time for such incidences. It’s best to sign up for the TFL mailing list to receive daily updates.
Upon reaching the office (@ 55 Broadway), signing in and receiving my nifty(yes, I said NIFTY) visitors pass it was up to the 7th floor for a PowerPoint Presentation.
A few things I learned during the show:
- Up until the 19th Century, the trains were powered by steam engines. Electric traction, safety lifts and tunneling technology were all used for the first time in London.
- Initial ‘Corporate Branding’ started by capitalizing the U and D in underground. This started in 1908. This was the same year the color coding of the lines was established. What we know as the ‘bullzeye’ underground logo started in 1911.
- Speaking of corporate branding, the Johnson Typeface for the underground group was created and used for the first time in 1916, and can be still found in today’s literature.
- The United States had a hand in the development of the ‘tube’ system as well: Charles Yerkes, a Chicago buisnessman who was involved in some…questionable business ventures took part in funding the project.
(I’m trying to grow the exact same ‘stash)
- During WW2, some of the stations were actually used as shelters, although initially it wasn’t advised.
- Finally, something I am proud to say: Kingdom and Marc Brunel (my university is named after Kingdom Brunel) designed what is now known as Paddington Station in 1854! Pretty Cool!
(Like a boss)
The next stop was at the top of the building, which had an amazing view of the London skyline! I couldn’t take photos directly across from us for security reasons- Scotland Yard was directly beside where I was haha)
The day concluded with a trip down a deserted tube station which was used by Sir Winston Churchill during WW2 as a military bunker. This was the most exciting part of the day, as it is not seen by the general public for security reasons. The perks of being an ambassador, huh?
One of those telephone systems where the operator had to manually transfer your call.
It now looks like a rat’s nest.
Old bath tub in one of the rooms.
Because it was not seen by the public on a regular basis photos were only permitted in specific locations. I can tell you this: It was one of the most exciting times of my life! The atmosphere down there really helped set the tone for what must have gone down. David even had photos of all the rooms before history took hold of them, so you got a better idea as to what happened during the war.
This is what the surrounding area looks like today. Guess where the entrance is?
Take care guys!