Going Green

The District line gets the aspiblog treatment.

INTRODUCTION

The title of this post comes from the title of Piers Connor’s history of the District Line, which is getting the aspiblog treatment this week…

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HISTORY

As with that of it’s second youngest, the Victoria, almost precisely a century later, London’s second oldest underground line’s initial opening occurred in three phases between 1868 and 1871. After the third and final phase of opening the Metropolitan District Railway (as it was officially called at that time) looked like this:

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A running theme of these early years were squabbles between the District and the Metropolitan over the completion of The Inner Circle (now the Circle line) and who could run their trains where. In the 1870s the District started producing maps for the benefit of their passengers, as these pictures show…

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I do not know what these very early maps looked like, but here is a picture of my facsimile of a pre-Beck geographical map…

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The Richmond and Wimbledon branches were both opened during the 1870s, followed by branches to Hounslow (the origin of the Heathrow branch of today’s Piccadilly line), Uxbridge (again handed over to the Piccadilly in the 1930s) and between 1883 and 1885, before being pared back to Ealing Broadway, Windsor (more on this later). The current eastern terminus of Upminster was reached (by a grant of running powers rather than new build) in 1902, and for a brief period as this reproduction postcard shows occasional District line trains ran to Southend and Shoeburyness…

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Additionally, a branch to Kensington Olympia was created, which linked to a corresponding branch south from whatt is now the Hammersmith and City. Also, sometimes services ran from the district line north of Olympia to Willesden Junction. Additionally, there was a spur to South Acton and even briefly a terminus specifically to serve Hounslow Barracks.

In the 1930s a lot of the western services (Hounslow and Uxbridge specifically) were transferred to the Piccadilly line, while the Hounslow Barracks service ceased to exist, and the South Acton spur was abandoned.

Nevertheless, with main western termini at Wimbledon, Richmond and Ealing, and a cross branch serving Wimbledon, Edgware Road and Kensington Olympia the District remains a very complicated line.

SPECULATIONS

Although I leave the eastern end of the line unchanged, my suggestions for the District involve some very dramatic changes. My plans for the Wimbledon, Edgware Road and Olympia branches will form the subject of a later post, and for the moment I will settle for saying that these branches would cease to form part of the District line, and that as with my changes involving branches that would remain part of the District line the plans involve making use of a feature that might otherwise be problematic (see The Great Anomaly), the fact that being one the older lines, this line was built to mainline specifications. Although my plans for the Richmond and Ealing branches are big, they involve only a small amount of new track – enough to link the lines that serve Windsor and Eton Riverside and Windsor and Eton Central forming a giant loop at the western end of the line. This loop would link with my suggested London Orbital Railway at Staines and at West Drayton. Thus in place of the current fiendishly complex District Line there would be ‘horizontal frying pan’ line, with Upminster to Turnham Green serving as the handle in this model. It would also make possible a reissue with appropriate modifications of this old poster…

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A GUIDED TOUR OF THE PRESENT-DAY DISTRICT LINE

From Richmond to Gunnersbury the District and London Overground share a route, which features one of only two above-ground crossings of the Thames on the entire network (the other is Putney Bridge – East Putney on the Wimbledon branch of the District). Richmond features a deer park, as advertised on this old poster…

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Kew Gardens actually has a pub that is built into the station, and serves a world famous botanic garden…

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Gunnersbury is not very significant, although the flying junction that this branch forms with the rest of the District line just beyond here and just before Turnham Green is very impressive, to the extent that it too has featured in a PR campaign back in the day…

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The section from Ealing Broadway to Acton Town includes a depot which features the steepest gradient on the system at 1 in 28 (passengers are not carried over this gradient – the steepest passenger carrying gradient is 1 in 32). At Ealing Common the District and Piccadilly lines converge, not to diverge again until the Piccadilly goes underground just east of Barons Court and even then, the Piccadilly follows the District at a deeper level until South Kensington. Between Acton Town and Turnham Green the District calls at Chiswick Park. After Turnham Green the District has stations at Stamford Brook and Ravenscourt Park. From the latter the remains of the viaduct that once carried trains from what is now the Hammersmith and City lines onto these tracks can still be seen. Beyond Hammersmith and Barons Court the District calls at West Kensington before arrving at the grand meeting point of Earls Court. Immediately east of Earls Court is Gloucester Road (pronounced glos-ta not glue-cess-ta – Americans please note), which at platform level has been restored to something like it would have looked in 1868, while the frontage at surface level is as nearly restored as the creation of a new shopping centre permits…

The inside back cover of the Piers Connor book - a look along one of the restored platforms at Gloucester Road.
The inside back cover of the Piers Connor book – a look along one of the restored platforms at Gloucester Road.
From London Underground: The Official Handbook, a picture of Gloucester Road at surface level.
From London Underground: The Official Handbook, a picture of Gloucester Road at surface level.

One stop further east at South Kensington is an original shopping arcade of the sort that several stations were provided with back in the day, complete with some splendid decorative ironwork (pictures photographed from London underground: The Official Handbook…)

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One stop on from South Kensington is Sloane Square, which I remember from growing up in London is the station that served Peter Jones (a huge department store). Also, a large pipe above the platforms here is the only routinely visible sign of the river Westbourne (for more detail click here). From Sloane Square, the line visits Victoria (the ultimate transport hub). We are about enter a section of the journey featuring a lot of landmarks, so I will be giving each station I cover a section heading, starting with…

ST JAMES PARK

This station is the local station for London Underground’s official headquarters, located at 55 Broadway. It is also, along with Temple and Mansion House one only three stations on this section if the district to be served only by the district and circle lines.

WESTMINSTER

The local station for the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey (officially the Collegiate Church of St Peter). The Abbey was originally founded by Edward the Confessor, who reigned from 1042-1066. While many look askance at the amounts of money trousered by folks in the House of Commons these people are at least elected, whereas in the House of Lords large sums  of money go to people who are not elected, some of whom barely bother to attend and the vast majority of whom have demonstrated time and again that they are a waste of space. Even Baron Kinnock of Bedwelty, who has personally profited hugely from the existence of the House of Lords reckons that it is ripe for abolition. Since the opening of the warped (I will not dignify it with the word modified) Jubilee line extension in 1999 there has been an interchange here.

EMBANKMENT

The station that has been through more name changes than any other on the system (people couldn’t decide whether Charing Cross, Embankment or both should be emphasised). The issue was put to bed for good in 1979 when the Jubilee opened, and its Charing Cross terminus created interchanges with what had previously been separate stations, Trafalgar Square on the Bakerloo line and Strand on the Northern, which meant that with Charing Cross definitively settled on for the marginally more northerly of the stations, this one had to be plain Embankment. The Embankment from which this station takes its name was designed as part of the building of this line by Joseph William Bazalgette, who also designed London’s sewer system. His great-great grandson Peter is a well known TV producer with some good series to his credit and Big Brother to his debit. This, photographed from the Piers Connor book is a diagram of the profile of the Embankment…

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TEMPLE

This is the only station name to feature both on London Underground and the Paris Metro (it also features on the Hong Kong network). In the days before the Aldwych branch of the Piccadilly line was axed there was an interchange here, as Temple is very close to Aldwych.

BLACKFRIARS

A station which derives its name from the Dominicans, who were referred to as black friars because of the colour of their habits. There is an interchange with both Thameslink and South Eastern here. Also, it is one end point of short scenic walk, which takes in a bridge over the Thames, Gabriel’s Wharf, The Oxo Tower, the Bernie Spain Gardens and the vast collection of attractions that between them constitute The South Bank, finally ending at Waterloo. Also if you go East instead of West after crossing the river you can take in the ruins of Winchester Palace (the former London residence of the Bishop of Winchester) and Clink Street, once home to a prison so notorious that ‘clink’ became slang for prison, a building that now houses London Dungeon, ending at London Bridge (you could continue yet further east – to Greenwich or even Woolwich were you feeling strong). I have done Waterloo – London Bridge and also Greenwich-London Bridge, and indeed Woolwich-Greenwich, so all these indvidual stretches are comfortably manageable. Also in this part of the world is Sainsbury’s main post-room where I once temped for a week (giving the agency feedback I took the opportunity to make it clear that I would not take any more work in that particular establishment – it was hell).

MANSION HOUSE

This name is either contradictory (a mansion is different from a house, being much larger) or tautologous (a mansion in a kind of large house) depending on your definitions. From 1871-1884 it was the eastern end of the District. The building after which the station is named is “the home and office of the Lord Mayor of the city of London” – an office filled four times by Richard Whittington (for once the story underplayed the the truth) in the fourteenth century.

CANNON STREET

A mainline rail terminus, albeit not a very significant one.

MONUMENT

I mentioned this station in my post about the Central line because it is connected to the various lines that serve by Bank by means of escalators. This interchange was first created in 1933, but the current arrangement dates only from the opening of the Docklands Light Railway terminus at Bank.

TOWER HILL

I have given this station an individual post to itself. From here the Circle and District diverge, the Circle going round to Aldgate while the District heads to Aldgate East. It is also at this point that I abandon for the moment separate station headings.

THE EASTERN END OF THE LINE

At Aldgate East the Hammersmtih and City line joins the District and they run together as far as Barking. In between Aldgate East and Whitechapel there used be a line connecting to Shadwell (formerly East London Line, now London Overground). Whitechapel has been in the news recently because a museum that was given planning permission on the basis of being dedicated to the women of the East End turned out when it opened to be dedicated to Jack the Ripper. This has been the subject of a vigorous 38Degrees campaign seeking both to get the monstrosity closed and to establish a proper East End Womens Museum. Some of those involved in the campaign met with the mayor of Tower Hamlets recently, and he has apparently been sympathetic and has confirmed that he too is unhappy with the way the planning process was subverted by an act of calculated dishonesty. Beyond Whitechapel, the line has an interchange with the Central line at Mile End which is unique for an interchange between ‘tube’ and ‘subsurface’ lines in being cross-platform and underground, Bow Road, which has an interchange with the Docklands Light Railway station at Bow Church is the last station on the line to be in tunnel. East of Bow Road the line rises on a 1 in 45 gradient to emerge into the open some way before Bromley-by-Bow. West Ham is nowadays a major interchange, featuring mainline railways, the Jubilee line, the Docklands Light Railway (this section which runs from Stratford to Woolwich was once part of the line that became the nucleus of London Overground, which originally ran from Richmond to North Woolwich, but now terminates at Stratford) and of course the District and Hammersmith & City lines. The main line railway runs side by side with the District to Upminster, and then continues to Southend and Shoeburyness. Upton Park is until 2017, when the club in question move to the Olympic Stadium, the local station for West Ham United’s home ground. Barking in the eastern limit of the Hammersmith & City, also the terminus of London Overground branch from Gospel Oak and an interchange with mainline railways. Upminster is the easternmost destination currently served by London Underground.

EDGWARE ROAD, OLYMPIA AND WIMBLEDON

For this section I will be reverting to individual headings for station names…

EDGWARE ROAD

A four platform station, where the Hammersmith & City line and the District and Circle lines meet (do not be fooled by the fact that both have stations called Paddington). This is the only one of the original 1863 stations to be served by District line trains.

PADDINGTON (PRAED STREET)

Why have I given this station a suffix that does not feature in it’s current title? Because the current plain “Paddington” designation is misleading – although the interchange to the Bakerloo line’s Paddington is a sensible one to have, you do far better for the mainline station and Hammersmith & City line to go on one stop to Edgware Road, make a quick cross-platform change to the Hammersmith & City and arrive at platforms that are structurally part of the mainline railway station (the two extra stops – one in each direction – plus a cross platform interchange taking less long between them than the official interchange up to the mainline station from here. Therefore to avoid misleading people the title of this station should either by given a suffix or changed completely, and the only interchange that should be shown is that with the Bakerloo. I have previously given Paddington a full post to itself, but failed to make the foregoing points with anything approaching sufficient force.

BAYSWATER

This station is on the north side of Hyde Park, and like the two on either side of it still has the same style of roof over the platforms as when it opened – a style now not seen anywhere else on the system.

NOTTING HILL GATE

I refer you to my previous post devoted to this station.

HIGH STREET KENSINGTON

This is the point at which this branch of the District diverges from the Circle line. The District branch continues south to the “Crewe of the Underground”, Earls Court, while the circle goes round to Gloucester Road (this section of track features in the Adventure of the Bruce Partington Plans, being the point at which the body of Arthur Cadogan West was fed through a rear window of a flat occupied by one Hugo Oberstein onto the roof of a conveniently stationary train, where it remained until being shaken off at Aldgate. Mycroft Holmes was sufficiently discombobulated by the case to change his routine (a thing so rare that his brother the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes likened it to seeing a tram car in a country lane) and pay a visit to Baker Street to seek assistance.

OLYMPIA

Trains to all manner of destinations pass through this station, but for the District it is a mere side branch..

WEST BROMPTON

An interchange with a London Overground branch. This station is fully open to the elements, as are all the others we have still to pass through.

FULHAM BROADWAY

The local station for Chelsea FC’s home ground, Stamford Bridge.

PARSONS GREEN

This would become a District line terminus, with an interchange to the new Hackney-Chelsea line, under official plans. In my personal ideas for the future it would be an interchange point but no terminus.

PUTNEY BRIDGE

The local station for Fulham FC’s home ground, Craven Cottage. This would also be the best station to travel to if you wished to catch the Boat Race, second oldest of all the inter-university sporting contests.

Like some the other posters I have displayed in this post this one would need adapting, but it could certainly be reissued.
Like some the other posters I have displayed in this post this one would need adapting, but it could certainly be reissued.

The oldest of all the inter-university sporting contests is the Varsity Cricket Match, first played in 1827, two years before the first Boat Race took place.

EAST PUTNEY

This station is the first of a section that used to be mainline railway.

SOUTHFIELDS

Another stop with a sporting connection – this is the local station for the world’s most famous tennis championship – Wimbledon. Although I have already given this station a full post, I show this picture again…

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WIMBLEDON PARK

The second to last stop on our journey.

WIMBLEDON

As we approach this station, we first join up with the mainline services from Waterloo coming in from Earlsfield, and then with Thameslink services coming in from Haydons Road. Wimbledon is also one terminus of the London Tram system. Along the north side of the tracks as one approaches Wimbledon runs Alexandra Road, and we pass underneath a bridge carrying Gap Road across the tracks to a junction.

ODDS AND ENDS

I have a few promotional pictures still to share, and some maps to round out this post. Other than that, I hope you enjoyed the ride…

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The District line and its history.
The District line and its history.
The District line and its connections.
The District line and its connections.
Close focus on the two Windsor branches that I would incorporate into the District making a loop at the western end.
Close focus on the two Windsor branches that I would incorporate into the District making a loop at the western end.

A Reading List

Some important/ interesting reading matter for today.

INTRODUCTION

This is going to be a very brief piece, consisting only of a handful of important links.

LINKS

These links come in four categories, starting with…

#JUSTICEFORKAYLEB

Two links relating to this shocking case:

  1. The petition, now with in excess of 150,000 signatures, that Morenike Giwa Onaiwu had been running via change.org since the start of the case.
  2. publicintegrity have produced an excellent and very thoughtful article about this case.

CELEBRATE SUFFRAGETTES NOT SERIAL KILLERS

Just a quick reminder of the latest development re the East End Womens Museum: a link via which you can contact the mayor of Tower Hamlets to give him your views.

WHY EVOLUTION IS TRUE

Two splendid pieces from the blog named in honour of Jerry A Coyne’s master work:

JEREMY CORBYN

According to comments on social media and Sky TVs own polling the number of contenders who emerged from last night’s Labour Leadership Debate with any credit totals one: Jeremy Corbyn. To mark his apparently crushing victory of last night I offer you, courtesy of beginpolitics this view of Mr Corbyn.

Stamps and Medals

A brief account of today at work, with some good images. Also some high quality links, especially concerning “Celebrate Suffragettes not Serial Killers”

INTRODUCTION

As well as sharing some of the better images from today at work (all items will going under the hammer on September 30th, and the lot numbers range between 312 and 549) I have some important links to share.

THE IMAGES

Apart from one big coin lot at the start of the day, I was imaging big stamp lots as and when they were ready and medal lots in the gaps in between. Here are some of the better images…

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LINKS

My first two links are to splendid posts on a new find, “why evolution is true“, a blog named for the book of that title by Jerry A Coyne (the book is superb as well by the way):

Another pair of related links:

  1. Before visiting this post from scriptonitedaily make sure you have a sick bag handy – it tells us about a former UKIP candidate who blamed the drowning of a three year old Syrian on the greed of his parents.
  2. A petition that is just taking off an avaaz calling for “no more drownings”

Jayne Linney in her eponymous blog takes the DWP to task for once again refusing to release data on disability benefits.

Meanwhile, Welfare Weekly have this about a volunteer law project that has won 95% of its appeals against fit to work test results.

Michael Meacher has produced this excellent post about Tony Blair’s increasingly hysterical denunciations of the Corbyn campaign.

I end this brief post with a link to thefashionhistorian because the author of this blog, Katy Werlin has just become involvewd in the East End Womens Museum project. Here is a sample of Katy’s work. Hot off the press, a new link offering you a chance to write to the mayor of Tower Hamlets about this issue.

Special Post: Whitechapel

A very brief post about Whitechapel, dedicated to all involved with the East End Womens Museum project.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to this latest addition to my series “London Station by Station”. This particular post is also a tribute to the East End Women’s Museum project. I hope that you will all enjoy it and that some of you at least will share it.

WHITECHAPEL – NOT ALL ABOUT THE RIPPER

Whitechapel, which today serves the District and Hammersmith and City lines with a quirky interchange to London Overground, first opened in 1884, although the current station dates only from 1913. The quirkiness of the interchange to London Overground lies in the fact that the direction of travel from London Underground to London Overground is downwards.

A while back a museum was given planning permission on the grounds that it would be dedicated to women of the East End. It turned out that the person behind it had been lying through their teeth and the museum was actually dedicated to Jack the Ripper. A petition having been launched against the Ripper museum, a determined group of people are now setting out to create a museum that genuinely is dedicated to the women of the East End, featuring stories like the one in this book:

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I finish this brief post with some map pics…

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Navigators, Cormorants and Cricket

An account with pictures of a morning walk and a day’s cricket listening, some important links and a couple of cool infographics. Coverage given to the East End Womens Museum project along the way.

INTRODUCTION

As well as my title piece I have some links and a couple of high quality infographics to share.

NAVIGATORS, CORMORANTS AND CRICKET

Before settling into day 2 of the test match between the England and Australia women’s teams I was able to enjoy a morning walk, which featured the first two elements of my title.

NAVIGATORS

One of the things to be found where the lower Purfleet flows into the Great Ouse is a circular display with compass points in the middle and details of navigator’s round the outside. I created a photographic montage from pictures taken this morning…

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Having shown you the montage, here are the individual pictures in their full glory…

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CORMORANTS

The cormorants were in their usual location…

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Making use of a freely available resource.
Making use of a freely available resource.

My next set of pictures feature the walk from the river to the library via the South Gate and the parkland…

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The library itself is usually worth photographing, and on a day like this doubly so…

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A sideways view also showing the top of Greyfriars Tower
A sideways view also showing the top of Greyfriars Tower
The top section of the tower.
The top section of the tower.

This is a part of King’s Lynn Minster that does not all that often get photographed…

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CRICKET

The test match currently in progress is going Australia’s way at the moment – England are playing over defensively having lost a few wickets. Australia declared at 274-9, with Jess Jonnasen making 99 on test debut. She shares this fate with Arthur Chipperfield in the 1936-37 men’s ashes. England’s principle remaining hope is Natalie Sciver.

LINKS

My links are grouped in several subsections, starting with…

THE INGLORIOUS TWELFTH

The title of this section refers to the fact that today is the start of the grouse season, a date referred to by the kind of rich vermin who get their rocks off shooting birds as “The Glorious Twelfth”. My opinion, shared by a gratifyingly large number, is precisely the reverse, and I have two links to go with it:

GENERAL POLITICS

My first link in this subsection is to a petition calling on the Gidiot (a nickname compounded of the name Gideon and the word Idiot for Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer) to stop using public money to finance private corporations.

My remaining two pieces concern the dishonourable Simon Danczuk MP who has today revealed for all to see how utterly contemptuous he is of both the members of his own party and the democratic process:

  1. The Vox Political piece that first alerted me to this story.
  2. A splendid piece courtesy of zelo-street on the same story.

EAST END WOMEN’S MUSEUM

This wonderful project (please check out their website) continues to gather support. The latest person to express a wish to be involved is Marie Proffit of womenshiftdigital. I am very optimistic that we will succeed both in getting a museum that really is dedicated to women’s history established and consigning the museum whose planning permission was fraudulently gained (which provoked this resposne) to the dustbin of history.

AUTISM

My first link in this subsection is to a piece produced by autistictimes which is a searing indictment of the organisation that miscalls itself Autism Speaks.

Finally, Autism Talk have produced some splendid stuff today, making this a segue to…

INFOGRAPHICS

Autism Talk

Autism Talk 2

The Cockaigne Overture

An account of the launch of project to build a museum that really is dedicated to the women of east London. A section on London Underground that opens with some support for the workers who run that system in their effort to secure a limitation on the number of night shifts they can be forced to work and concludes with some quirky stuff about London Underground.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to this post with a triple purpose title. Those purposes are:

  1. A tribute to a wonderful piece of music, composed by Edward Elgar
  2. This is the first of several posts that I will be putting up today
  3. Also, some elements of this post will indubitably be springboards for launching future posts.

LONDON TOWN

The Cockaigne Overture is a musical invocation of London Town, and it fits with this post because this post is about London. There are two elements to the body of this post:

  • Some stuff about an exciting new project in East London
  • And some stuff about London Underground

EAST END WOMEN’S MUSEUM

This is the most important part of the post, being dedicated to the exciting project mentioned above. Before I get right into it, I must mention as an extra sharing forum my newly created second personal email address, thomasavsutcliffe@gmail.com and its associated google+ account. This project has grown out of the anger at a piece of vile duplicity, when what was claimed to be a museum dedicated to the women of East London turned out to be dedicated to Jack the Ripper. The first response, by way of 38degrees, was this petition entitled “Celebrate Suffragettes not Serial Killers“.

Then came the idea to create a museum that really was dedicated to women of East London, for which I offer the following links:

I conclude this part of the post by urging all of you to get involved in any way you can with this really excellent and exciting new project.

LONDON UNDERGROUND

Before getting into the two main parts of this section, I draw your attention to my series of posts “London Station by Station“.

THE STRIKES

The first thing to say about the strikes that are currently rocking London Underground is to make a point that opponents of these workers are doing their damnedest to deliberately obscure: THIS IS NOT ABOUT MONEY. The dispute is about working conditions, and specifically about changes in connection with the introduction of the Night Tube (as it’s instigator, BoJo the Clown calls it). What these workers want and which management have thus far refused to do is a guaranteed upper limit on the number of night shifts any individual can be made to work in the course of a year. To finish this introduction by I reiterate the opening point: THIS IS NOT ABOUT MONEY.

I have a link courtesy of The Independent to a really excellent article about these strikes.

I support these workers wholeheartedly in their struggle and I conclude, because this really cannot be over emphasized by saying one final time: THIS IS NOT ABOUT MONEY.

SOME OTHER STUFF ON LONDON UNDERGROUND

I have two links and some accompanying graphics in this subsection.

  1. londonist have produced a very interesting post featuring a map of what the Londinium Underground might have looked like had the Romans had the means to create it.
    Londinium Tube Map!
  2. Huffington Post have used the creation of new style tube map by a Hong Kong based individual as a starting point for a post that is a must see for anyone who loves railways, maps or (like this writer) both.
    LUM

I finish this subsection with a blast from the past – a jpg of one of the Metropolitan Railway’s early maps…
MRCCONCLUDING COMMENTS

I hope that you enjoy reading this post as much as I have enjoyed creating it. I also hope that some of you will share it!