10 Bits Of Juicy Trivia You Probably Didn't Know About The Tube

By Geoff Marshall Last edited 12 months ago
10 Bits Of Juicy Trivia You Probably Didn't Know About The Tube

Tube expert Geoff Marshall has a book, packed with trivia on the London Underground. Here, he selects 10 of his faves. How many of these did you know about?

What's with the strange dip at Bond Street? Image: Shutterstock

1. What's the tube station with the most exits to street level?

It's Bank, right? Well no it's not actually (it's Charing Cross which has 13 in total). But Bank does have something of an anomaly in that there's an exit to street level (also an entrance into the station) which is completely unmarked. That's right: no glowing roundel here. How to find this mystical exit/entrance? There is a numbered exit that takes you to 'Poultry', but what you might never have noticed is that the corridor splits and takes you to a set of double escalators up to an area called '1 Poultry' — a way in and out of Bank station that is not signed in any way at all. Most unusual.

2. What's the only tube line with its own coat of arms?

The Metropolitan Bar is a Wetherspoons pub located immediately outside Baker Street station. It's the old station restaurant and buffet. And if you pop in and look up to the ceiling, you'll find the Metropolitan line coat of arms. It's the only tube line (that I'm aware of) that ever had its own coat of arms.

The Metropolitan line's coats of arms. Image: Kaihsu in Wikicommons

3. Why's there a weird dip in the ceiling at Bond Street station?

Recently upgraded — ready for when Crossrail finally opens in 2019 — there is a whole new side entrance for Bond Street station. Find a corridor at the bottom of the new corridors they've built, and low and behold — there's a 'dip' in the ceiling. So pronounced is this drip, the passageway has steps down (and up again) to avoid anyone hitting their head on the ceiling. Why's it there? This is the point where the Mail Rail line passes through!

The old Charing Cross entrance

4. Where can you find an old entrance to Charing Cross station that's now a tacky gift shop?

A complicated station with many name changes over the years, Charing Cross is also the amalgamation of TWO stations: the Bakerloo line's Trafalgar Square station was merged into it. Before that, Charing Cross was just a Northern line station, and one of its original entrances is clearly visible on the street. But maybe you never realised that's what it was. Stand at the top of Villiers Street, as if you were about to walk down to Embankment. As you do there is a gift shop on the right-hand side... unusually there are steps immediately at its entrance as you go in, this is because this was one of the original entrances into the station. Stand back, and admire the ornate motifs above, including wreaths... and naked breasts.

Johnston font: there's more than one. Image: TfL

5. What happened to the original Fulham Broadway station?

Fulham's tube station used to be a little further along the street, until they built the new entrance as part of a shopping centre. You might have seen the old building, but did you know that it's now been turned into shops, and an indoor market? Plenty of original features of the original station remain including the Edwardian ticket hall that's now a bar, with a gorgeous 'To The Trains' sign.

6. Where's the only tube station with completely up to date signage font?

The classic London Underground font that we know and love is called Johnston. And it's been used for years and years, right? Well... there are in fact three variants: the original Johnston from the 1930s; a 1970s redesign called New Johnston — and Johnston 100, created in 2016 (this introduced the '#' character for the first time). Holland Park is one of the few stations where the new typeface has been used on all the signage, owing to the station's recent refurb. Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station stations should qualify too, when they open in 2020.

Fulham Broadway's old station

7. Where can you find the network's most beautiful ventilation grills?

The top end of the Piccadilly line beyond Finsbury Park is just gorgeous — stations designed with care and style in the 1930s by Charles Holden. Three of them — Manor House, Turnpike Lane, Wood Green and Bounds Green have intricately designed ventilation grills high up in the platform walls, designed by Harold Stabler (the man who also designed the tiny wall tiles at Aldgate East and Bethnal Green). The ventilations grills are different at each station. It's worth stopping at each one to compare.

8. Which station was originally called Enfield West?

Oakwood station is a Charles Holden classic. Originally it was called Enfield West station. And there's a small but beautiful remnant of it in the 'Passimeter' (old ticket booth) in the ticket hall. Here you'll find some black and white photos showing how the station used to look. And next to that, hanging on the wall, an old-style telephone with the label 'Enfield West'. An original? Not sure, but it's great to see.

Where are the DLR's 'secret' exits? Image: Shutterstock

9. Where can you peer into a window to see a 'no man's land' between two stations?

Southwark station is ridiculously close to Waterloo East National Rail station. So much so, that an exit links the two, creating a strange no man's land, where a tube gate line and National Rail gate line face each other with a space in-between. The fun part? Out on street level, find Hatfields road, and a window where you can peer into this no man's land. The window might not be there for long though: there are plans to build a second entrance/exit into Southwark tube station here, although it would come out onto Greet Street, one road over.

10. Where are the DLR's hidden exits?

Finally, one from everyone's secret favourite railway — the DLR. So many of its stations have second/alternative exits. The best-known one is the 'alternative' exit at the back end of the platforms at Tower Gateway. But Poplar has a 'hidden' set of steps too tucked away that we bet you've never seen. Go and see if you can find them. At Shadwell, meanwhile, most people head for the western exit because that's where it links up with the Overground. But there's an exit at the eastern end of the station too, which takes you out onto Shadwell Place. We've never seen anyone else use it.

Tube Station Trivia by Geoff Marshall is available to buy now.

Last Updated 06 November 2020