diamond geezer

 Friday, January 11, 2013

Opening of the Metropolitan Railway to the public
The Observer (Sunday 11th January 1863) [full version]

Yesterday the Metropolitan (underground) Railway was opened to the public, and many thousands were enabled to indulge their curiosity in reference to this mode of travelling under the streets of the metropolis.

The trains commenced running as early as six o'clock in the morning from the Paddington (Bishop's-road) station, and the Farringdon-street terminus, in order to accommodate workmen, and there was a goodly muster of that class of the public, who availed themselves of the advantages of the line in reaching their respective places of employment.

At eight o'clock the desire to travel underground in the direction of the City began to manifest itself at the various stations along the line; and by nine it became equally evident to the authorities that neither the locomotive power nor the rolling stock at their disposal was at all in proportion to the requirements of the opening day.

From this time, and throughout the morning, every station became crowded with anxious travellers who were admitted in sections; but poor were the chances of a place to those who ventured to take their tickets at any point below Baker-street, the occupants being, with but very rare exceptions, "long distance," or terminus, passengers.

Possibly the greatest point of attraction, if the collection of numbers may be taken as any criterion, was King's cross, which is certainly the finest station on the line throwing even the termini into the shade. At this point, during the morning, the crowds were immense, and the constant cry, as the trains arrived, of "No room", appeared to have a very depressing effect upon those assembled.

Of the general comfort in travelling on the line there can be no doubt, and the novel introduction of gas into the carriages is calculated to dispel any unpleasant feelings which passengers, especially ladies, might entertain against riding for so long a distance through a tunnel. Yesterday, throughout every journey, the gas burnt brightly, and in some instances was turned on so strong in the first-class carriages, in each of which there were two burners, that when the carriages were stationary, newspapers might be read with facility; but, in motion, the draft through the apertures of the lamps, created so much flickering as to render such a feat exceedingly difficult.

The second-class carriages are very nicely fitted with leathered seats, and are very commodious, and the compartments and arms in the first-class render overcrowding impossible.

There is one point to which attention was attracted as being adverse to the general expectation, and that was that it was understood that there was to be no steam or smoke from the engines used in working this tunnel railway. All we can say is, that on one of the journeys between Portland-road and Baker-street, not only were the passengers enveloped in steam, but it is extremely doubtful if they were not subjected to the unpleasantness of smoke also.

Up to six o'clock the computation was that somewhere about 25,000 persons had been carried over the line, and it is gratifying to remark that, notwithstanding the eagerness of the public to get into the carriages, even when the trains were in motion, no single accident, of any kind, was reported.
 150th anniversary of the Underground Railway
The Geezer (Friday 11th January 2013)

Yesterday the London (Underground) Railway celebrated 150 years of serving the public, and hundreds of thousands were enabled to indulge this anniversary by travelling under the streets of the metropolis.

The trains commenced running as early as one o'clock in the morning from the Earl's Court station, in order to accommodate privileged staff and media, and there was a goodly muster of excitable big kids, who availed themselves of the advantages of engineering hours to run their steam train to the Moorgate terminus.

At seven o'clock the desire to travel underground in the direction of the City began to manifest itself at the various stations around the network; and by eight it became equally evident to the authorities that neither the signalling systems nor the rolling stock at their disposal was at all in proportion to the requirements of the working population.

From this time every station became crowded with anxious travellers who were admitted by waving small lozenges of plastic; but poor were the chances of a seat to those who stood on the platforms beyond Baker Street, what with the occupants being squashed in as if they were cattle aboard the truck to market.

Possibly the greatest point of attraction, if the collection of numbers may be taken as any criterion, was King's Cross, which is certainly the most spaghetti-like on the line. At this point the crowds were immense, and the constant cry of "We are being held at a red signal and we should be moving shortly", appeared to have a very depressing effect upon those assembled.

Of the general tedium in travelling on the line there can be no doubt, and the novel introduction of wifi into the carriages is calculated to dispel any unpleasant feelings which passengers, especially smartphone users, might entertain against riding for so long a distance through a tunnel. Yesterday, throughout every journey, their screens burnt brightly, and in some instances the signal was turned on so strong that when the carriages were stationary, newspapers might be read with facility; but, in motion, for those still utilising the printed page, the train created so much rocking as to render completing the sudoku exceedingly difficult.

The most modern carriages are very economically fitted with moquette, and are very spacious, and the compartments are joined together without walls to render walking from one end to the other entirely possible.

There is one point to which attention was attracted as being adverse to the general expectation, and that was that it was understood that there would be steam or smoke from an engine once used in working this tunnel railway. All we can say is, that on one of the anniversary journeys between Earl's Court and Moorgate, not only were the passengers enveloped in steam, but it is extremely likely that they were absolutely bloody delighted by the sheer retro joy of it all.

Up to midnight the computation was that somewhere about four million persons had been carried over the network, and it is gratifying to remark that, notwithstanding the eagerness of the public to jam their rucksacks in the doors, even when the beepy noise is sounding, no single accident, of any kind, was reported.


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