This Day In London’s History
1890: Public opening of the world’s first ‘deep-level’ electric tube line, running between Stockwell and King William Street.
Although the Metropolitan and Metropolitan District Railways had opened several underground tube lines since 1863, these were relatively shallow ‘cut-and-cover’-type lines. Following advances in tunnelling techniques later in the century, it became possible to construct much deeper lines, and the City & South London Railway was opened to the public on 18th December 1890.
Although the journey was reputedly quite unpleasant, the line still proved to be very popular, and it was enhanced and extended north to Islington and south to Clapham Common in 1900, then further north to Euston in 1907. In the 1920s the line was connected to the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway as well as being extended further south to Morden. No current-day tube user will be surprised to hear that this led to the formation of today’s Northern Line, which is now sufficiently popular to inconvenience and annoy more than 600,000 Londoners daily. So it’s not just the Piccadilly Line that is celebrating an anniversary at this time of year.
King William Street station was beset with practical difficulties, and was soon abandoned when the City & South London Railway extended north in 1900, less than ten years after it was opened. In its place Bank station was constructed north of the river, connecting to a newly constructed London Bridge station to the south. The now abandoned King William Street station was mostly demolished a few decades later, although the original tunnels that once led to the station were used as air raid shelters during the Second World War, and some remain more-or-less intact today. It has been suggested that some of these tunnels may still be visible above London Bridge’s Northern Line platforms, although their current status is the subject of some debate.
Londoner Of The Week
To be honest, no Londoners have impressed us enough to become ‘Londoner Of The Week’ this week. London, please try harder in future. If you think we’ve unfairly missed someone, do let us know…
One Thing You Must Do In London This Week
If you need a respite from shopping for presents on Oxford Street this week, then you might conceivably find it in Santa’s Ghetto. Located next to Tottenham Court Road tube (15 Oxford Street, to be precise), it’s a “squat art concept store” that “features some of the world's finest underground artists and attempts to bring an even greater sense of disillusionment to the whole West End shopping experience”. In the words of Banksy:
I felt the spirit of Christmas was being lost. It was becoming increasingly uncommercialised and more and more to do with religion so we decided to open our own shop and sell pointless stuff you didn’t need.
Santa’s Ghetto closes down this Saturday, so you’ll need to get down there this week if you want to have a look. We’ve already featured a few pics from the store recently, so you should know what to expect.
Picture of City & South London Railway train taken from Mike’s Railway History site.