A few days back, Londonist found ourselves standing on the platform at Farringdon ignoring the passing trains. This felt wrong. As fully brainwashed Londoners, we had to resist the constant urge to hop onto the Met Line carriage behind us. But we weren't here to commute. We'd been invited on a historical jaunt around the London Underground.
'Travel across 150 years in just two hours,' is the tagline of this new guided tour from Insider London. And that's what we did. From Farringdon, one of London's first stations, to the ever-evolving King's Cross, on to the Leslie Green terracotta of Oxford Circus, a quick stop at Charles Holden's art deco Piccadilly Circus and a big finish at the ultra-modern naked concrete of Westminster.
Of course, we've seen (and read) it all before. But hearing the history of the Tube on location, in chronological order was a powerful and effective way to make the anecdotes stick. Our guide was effortlessly friendly and, as far as we could tell, flawless in her facts. With the combined London geekiness of Londonist, Annie Mole and LDN in the group, she could scarcely have had a more intimidating audience. But we couldn't catch her out, and we even learnt a thing or two about our specialist subject.
Unlike many tours, then, this one should appeal to long-time Londoners as much as first-time tourists. For those of hardier constitution, the company also offers a tour lasting six hours (insert gag here about a typical journey on the Northern Line). And if you want a real challenge, you could try and convince them to do the route during rush hour.
The Tube tour is organised by Insider London. Places can be booked via their web site.
Disclaimer: Just to be up-front about it, we took the tour for free on the invitation of Insider London. We very rarely take freebies in exchange for a write-up (oh, OK, book reviews). But we love nerding about the Tube so much that we decided to bend our principles a little for this splendid little tour.