The basics
THE UK: Destination Guides

Student Blog: London Underground marks its 150th anniversary


'On 9 January 2013, London Underground celebrated 150 years since the first underground journey took place between Paddington and Farringdon on the Metropolitan Railway. Since that moment, the London Underground or the ‘tube’ as it is commonly known, has become part of the day-to-day life of all Londoners and visitors.

Today UK's capital city is connected and functions in an amazingly orderly manner thanks to the underground. The network covers 408 kilometres, with 11 lines running through 270 stations across London. To commemorate this long-standing legacy, we have put together a list of historical facts for you:

1863 The first day the London Underground opens: 50,000 people queue for tickets but just over half that number are able to travel.

London underground early days

1905 District and Circle Railways and part of the Metropolitan Railway electrified.

Disctrict Line is electrified

1908 Frank Pick develops the Underground's corporate identity through coordinated marketing including distinctive posters and the first version of the bar and circle logo.

See Marketing courses abroad.

Later on in 1916, Frank Pick commissions Edward Johnston to design a unique typeface for the Underground as part of these branding efforts. A newer version is still in use by London Underground.

London tube roundel sign

1933 Harry Beck designed and produced the well known Tube map diagram while working as an engineering draughtsman at the London Underground Signals Office. Beck’s map was considered too big a departure from the norm, but the public liked it and it became official in 1933.

First underground map

1939 Wartime London: Holborn and Aldwych stations served as shelter for many Londoners during the Blitz in the Second World War as well as storing precious artworks and other items from the neighbouring British Museum.

Aldwych station during Blitz

1969 Victoria Line, the newest of all London Underground network, is inaugurated by the Queen Elizabeth II.

1978 The first woman driver, Hannah Dadds, starts working as a train driver on the District line.

First woman driver

2002 Oyster electronic card is introduced, following past efforts started with the paper-based travelcard. The whole transport system is divided into zones to allow for a smaller range of fares.

oyster card

2007 The tube carries 1 billion people in a year for the first time. A new one-day record of over 4 million passengers occurs on 7 December.

2012 during the Olympic Games, the London Underground had its most hectic day ever on August 3, carrying 4.4 million passengers.

2013 As part of the 150th anniversary celebrations, a restored locomotive steam train (last used in the late 1800s) runs from Kensington Olympia to Moorgate on the Metropolitan line, on January 13.'


Images: Courtesy of Transport for London

Search for a course

Study level*
About Author

Aspiring journalist and Cambridge University graduate, Londoner 'by adoption'. Tweeting for @hotcourses_Abrd


'Study in the UK' eBook

Enjoy what you’ve read? We’ve condensed the above popular topics about studying in the UK into one handy digital book.