Transport for London: Exploring the Underground

MSc Medical Parasitology student Brittany is blogging about her experiences in London, and why it’s such a great city to study science:

Last Saturday, I got an amazing opportunity to learn all about the history of London’s famous Underground, followed by an exclusive tour of a decommissioned Underground station, and it was an amazing and unforgettable experience!

We got to start our day by learning all about how the Underground system came to be, and saw its progression from its one tube line in 1863, the Metropolitan line,  in central London, to the 9 zoned, 10+ lined train system it has become today.

An old Underground map, before the straight-lined block style came into play. It showed the actual directions and distances of the train stops (Kind of like what you may see on Google maps now actually). But as the system expanded, the map had to become more condensed to fit all of the stops on one map.

An old Underground map, before the straight-lined block style came into play. It showed the actual directions and distances of the train stops (Kind of like what you may see on Google maps now actually). But as the system expanded, the map had to become more condensed to fit all of the stops on one map.

 

Lord Ashfield P.C., a leading man in London’s underground transport

Lord Ashfield P.C., a leading man in London’s underground transport.

 

London Underground

The old fashioned way of telling where the trains were and how often they passed through a certain point.

 

London Underground

The papers had marks indicating the time of day, and when a train passed through, it triggered a small needle to mark a line at that time along the edge of the circle. At the end of the day, someone sat and recorded the placement of all these small lines to figure out where the trains were and when.

 

After learning about the rich history of the Tube and the Underground system as a whole, we took advantage of a beautiful day and an even more beautiful view before heading down into dark.

London Underground

We couldn’t have asked for a better day, or view!

 

London Underground

This, without a doubt, became one of my most memorable moments of my entire time in London.

 

After taking in this beautiful view, we trekked over to the decommissioned station that would take us back in history.

London Underground

Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures during our tour of the station, but I can tell you that we did get to learn a lot about those who sought shelter down there during World War II.  When the German bomb raids began, hundreds of thousands of people took refuge in the Tube stations. Many were reinforced with special doors as well to basically seal the station off in case a gas bomb threat was detected, although there’s no way of knowing if or how well these would have worked.  All of those evacuated to the stations carried gas masks with them as well.  Here, they slept, cooked, and even worked throughout the blitz happening overhead. Some trains even continued to run as well, bringing in others looking to seek shelter in these stations. They got food, beds, toilets, baths, and one station was even converted into an underground Operations Room for anti-aircraft control.

The whole day was an amazing experience that I am beyond grateful to have gotten the chance to do, and what I have learned and what I have gotten to see will always stay with me. Especially every morning when I walk by my own local tube station (which still has the same old fashioned red stone design), and every time I ride the tube.

Follow Brittany’s Science in London blog at http://scienceinlondon.wordpress.com/

 

 

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