On Friday 11 October 2019, at 1.09pm, a polite notice went up on the public whiteboard at Baker Street station, explaining that the Metropolitan line was suspended 'owing to a customer giving birth on a train.'
As chance would have it, earlier that year, another expectant mother had unexpectedly brought a new life into the world via the London Underground — this time at Warren Street station. In a well-timed stroke of luck, a 21-year-old medical student was on his way home from an anatomy lecture, and helped deliver the baby.
For a network that's been open since 1863, and which now conveys 1.35 billion passengers per year, you'd expect that births were not an altogether unusual occurrence on the network. In fact, 2019's births are two of just FIVE recorded births on the Underground.
The third baby thought to have been born on the network arrived on Thursday 28 May 2009. 32-year-old Michelle Jenkins' waters broke on a Jubilee train, and just after 2pm, she found herself giving birth to a baby boy in the London Bridge station staff room.
Just five months before that, on 19 December 2008, Julia Kowalska's waters were breaking on the Jubilee line. At 9.35pm, she gave birth to a baby girl, Jennifer, on the platform of Kingsbury station.
Before these two pairs of closely-timed incidents, there was a something of a gap; the first recorded incident of a birth on the tube network was at Elephant and Castle, on Tuesday 13 May 1924. Accounts tell how Mrs Daisy Britannia Kate Hammond was already on her way to hospital via the Bakerloo line, but went into labour at Marylebone. The train was emptied of other passengers, and fast-tracked to Elephant and Castle, where a doctor was waiting, and the baby was delivered.
That baby was Marie Cordery and — apparently at the suggestion of a Daily Express journalist — Lord Ashfield, chairman of the Underground Railways, consented to be Marie's godfather, even attending the christening at Wealdstone, where she was named Marie Ashfield Eleanor. Ashfield also presented the baby with a christening cup. You can't buy that kind of publicity.
So there we have it: there have only ever been five births on the tube network. Except that's clearly bunkum. And one man who would agree is Jerry Springer. The former chat show host grew up in Belvedere Court, Hampstead, and says that his mother was adamant that she gave birth to him on 13 February 1944, in the midst of the Blitz, at Highgate tube station.
Even if Springer's mum's memory was somehow confused, Springer explains, "Women who were in their ninth month would often spend the night in the subway stations, because those were the bomb shelters." Surely, then, there were more births on the platforms and tracks of London's tube stations that went unrecorded — perhaps lost in the melee between 1939 and 1945. And let's not forget, Londoners were sheltering from air raids in the first world war too. There have to have been other tube babies. Do you think you were born in tube station? We'd like to know.