LU History

A Rich Tapestry!

There is a rich tapestry of history to be discovered about Londonís underground railway that first opened for business on Saturday 10 January 1863. In almost 150 years this ground breaking network of lines has carried countless individuals including members of the Royal Family such as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Charles, Prime Ministers & politicians, high flying businessmen & women, television personalities and comedians through to the everyday commuter and shopper.

All too often we take this intricate network for granted, head down, endeavouring to get to our destination as quickly as possible. We take little time to consider who may have travelled through the same network of tunnels as ourselves, or whom may have stepped onto the same platform. Perhaps we donít even think about who designed the rolling stock or maps we use, when or why the railway routes we travel on were chosen or even about who laboured to build the stations we use. Perhaps we care even less that other underground railways in other cities, even on other continents, that looked towards London for inspiration.

Londonís Underground has seen much change since the mid 18th Century, not only economical, but also technological and social. London would be a very different place today if it were not for its underground railway that has grown and reached out, creating commuter towns. Consequently its important that we remember those who often devoted their working lives to London Underground and in particular those who sadly paid the ultimate price for its construction or development.

There are numerous books that tell the story of how the Underground came into being, of its growth and even about its potential future. What is important though, is that we have the opportunity to experience and learn more about Londonís Underground for ourselves.

This section glimpses into the past, courtesy of Londonís Transport Museum as well as other museums and collectors that have saved memories for us to savour.

This section glimpses into the past, courtesy of Londonís Transport Museum as well as other museums and collectors that have saved memories for us to savour. For example, LU & TfL occasionally allows railtours using old retired stock to travel along its metals, typically during anniversary celebrations or at other events.

The experiences though are not always physical... sometimes the very best way to learn about the rich history of London Underground is through the eyes and memories of those who have served it and its passengers...

The staff !

In this unique and undated image (thought to have been taken around 1890) on the footplate of a District Railways locomotive, stands driver Daniel Cook (to the left, wearing a remarkably smart suit for the circumstances) and his nephew, fireman Frank Cook.

Frank Cook had originally been a station cleaner and later on, a driver and finally a Ticket Inspector at Ealing Broadway prior to his retirement after 50 years on the railway.

Many thanks to Mark of Ealing for this family photograph.