The Subterranean Railway: Book Review

INTRODUCTION

The full title of the book is “The Subterranean Railway: How The London Underground was Built and How it Changed the City Forever”, and the author is Christian Wolmar.

A COMPREHENSIVE ACCOUNT

As well as providing a superb account of the development of London Underground, and the effect that this had on the city, Wolmar’s book also gives due coverage the alternative railway ideas that were proposed (and in the case of the atmospheric railway at Crystal Palace actually built) around the same time.

All the good stories are there, from Charles Pearson, Edward Watkin and Robert Selbie through Charles Tyson Yerkes (who in the first decade of the 20th century raised a cool £18 million for tube building projects) and on to the days of public ownership. There are also some excellent illustrations.

This proposed idea of a railway running above people's  heads and along the sides of buildings did not get beyond the drawing board.
This proposed idea of a railway running above people’s heads and along the sides of buildings did not get beyond the drawing board.
The atmospheric railway at Crystal Palace.
The atmospheric railway at Crystal Palace.
An early station.
An early station.
The Greathead shield, used for the making of deep-level tube lines.
The Greathead shield, used for the making of deep-level tube lines.

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Piccadilly Circus, above and below ground.
Piccadilly Circus, above and below ground.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend to anyone with an interest in public transport.

GETTING HOLD OF THE BOOK

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As so often, I obtained my copy from the library, but for those who prefer buying to borrowing it is available via Book Depository for £9.98 with free worldwide delivery

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