10 fascinating things you never knew about the London Underground

London may be associated with many things – from red telephone boxes to Buckingham Palace – but another one of its great institutions is the Underground, otherwise dubbed ‘the Tube’.

Certainly, our own Atrium hotel is a popular choice for those on the lookout for hotels near a Tube station, given that we are a mere two-minute walk away from Hatton Cross station. But what other things should you know about the Tube and its remarkable history?

  1. The Tube’s origins can be traced back to the Metropolitan Railway, which was the world’s first underground railway when it opened in 1863. The Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines now cover its original route.
  2. Indeed, the ‘Underground’ name didn’t even appear on stations for the first time until 1908.
  3. Wooden escalators still existed on the Underground as late as the early 21st century, despite the 1987 King’s Cross fire that killed 31 people; the final example, at Greenford station, was decommissioned in 2014.
  4. TV’s king of controversy, Jerry Springer, was born at Highgate station in 1944, during its period of use as a bomb shelter.
  5. Despite the name, less than half of the Underground is actually underground in tunnels.
  6. The Tube has a strong association with fine art and visual culture; elements like the official roundel and Tube map have long been iconic, while major creative projects continue to be showcased across the network under the Art on the Underground
  7. The phase ‘mind the gap’ was first used on the Northern Line in 1968.
  8. Tube carriages originally lacked any windows.
  9. Aldgate station was built above a massive plague pit, where it is thought that more than 1,000 bodies were buried.
  10. The British Museum once had its own tube station. It was open only between 1900 and 1933, its closure hastened by the opening of Holborn station by another railway company in 1906. The British Museum tube station’s entrance was situated at No. 133, High Holborn, although the original surface building was demolished in 1989.

Such is the wealth of intriguing things to know about the London Underground, that it’s very much a destination for visitors in and of itself. Choose the Atrium when you are comparing hotels near a Tube station, and you will be delighted about the ease with which you can travel across the British capital during your stay here – whether for work, rest or play.

 

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