A Tube Map That Never Happened, Based On Plans From The 1940s

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 10 months ago

Last Updated 09 August 2023

A Tube Map That Never Happened, Based On Plans From The 1940s

This is the tube map that could have been.

Click to enlarge

Alastair Carr painstakingly created the map, using details from sweeping proposals published in January 1946. The plans set out to improve and extend the underground rail network across London. As A London Inheritance says, the report:

...perhaps reflected the "anything can be done" attitude needed during the war, and a realisation that the changes caused to London by heavy bombing presented a major opportunity to improve London for everyone who lived and worked in the city.

As part of the plans, the overground terminals at Charing Cross, Blackfriars, Cannon Street and London Bridge are disposed of:

The Northern line is doubled up between Kennington and Tooting Broadway, while extra stations appear at the likes of Trinity Road, North Cheam and Strand (which, as we know, was once an actual tube station).

The Northern line extends beyond Edgware, up to Bushey Heath. Some, but not all, of the 'Northern Heights' stations get Northern line status too:

Other far-flung lands, which we can only dream of reaching on the tube in 2018, include Aylesbury on the District line and Watford Junction — on a Bakerloo line that forks off at Baker Street:

Meanwhile, totally new lines — dubbed by the map's creator with such whimsical names as Bankbone, Wimbleching and Cricklefleet — run out to the reaches of Epsom Downs, Chessington and Tattenham Corner in the south...

...and Chingford and Ally Pally in the north. In fact, Ally Pally gets two tube stations. Just imagine:

And what's this — the aptly purple 'Waterling' line appears to be a forebear of Crossrail, skewering along its route: Maidenhead, West Drayton, Hayes & Harlington, Acton and Paddington:

Says Alastair Carr:

I've always been interested in the question of how the London Underground might have looked if history had played out a little differently. The plans which I based this map on are definitely ambitious: imagine what it would be like today replacing London Bridge with five Crossrail-style lines! But I think what's most cool is seeing early versions of the proposals which led to the Victoria line, Thameslink, Crossrail and Crossrail 2.

Over on Reddit, the map has caused some to question why the plans never became a reality. Says one person, "This services the south of the river so much more than the current system! This is what dreams are made of."

Alas, most of this was never to be. Construction time, "under the most favourable conditions, would not be less than 30 years," admitted the report. The sheer cost too — in such poor economic times as well — sealed the fate of these ambitious post war plans.