Lawless and the Devil of Euston Square (Book Review)


Yes – another book that relates to the history (or in this case prehistory) of London Underground.


Most of the action takes place in the years 1859-62, during which construction work is taking place on the Metropolitan Railway, the world’s first underground railway, and Mr Joseph William Bazalgette’s greatest work, a complete overhaul of London’s sewer system is just starting (it will take until 1870 to complete).

The action starts with the destruction of a colossal clock that was to have been part of the new London and North Western Railway, and ends with a journey along the newly opened Metropolitan.

The title character’s researches take him to the reading room at the British Library, bringing the Marx family in to the story, albeit in a walk-on role.

I personally found the characterisation of the Euston Bugle and its chief reporter highly amusing – and unmistakably accurate. At the start of the story, when the Great Western Railway who are their main shareholders are not due to have a stake in the new underground railway they are vehemently opposed to it, but then when an agreement is brokered that gives the GWR running powers over the tracks in exchange for supplying locomotives (and the Met was built to take broad as well as standard gauge locomotives, and its first locomotives were indeed supplied by the GWR), they become the world’s no 1 supporters of the new underground railway.

All in all, William Sutton’s book is a great success, and I once again thank Norfolk Libraries for enabling to me to access this and many other fine books.


For those who prefer buying to borrowing, the book can be obtained from book depository with free worldwide delivery for £7.99

Special Post: Highgate


Welcome to the latest installment in my series “London Station by Station“. I hope that you will enjoy this post and will be encouraged to share it.



One stop south of Highgate is Archway, which opened in 1907 and was for some time the northern terminus of the line. One stop to the north is East Finchley, which was first served by Northern line trains in 1939, having previously been part of the LNER. Highgate, our subject, only opened in 1941 – something of an afterthought.


This title comes from a CD case, and concerns a story that began almost 400 years ago and that touches on Highgate…


In 1619 a servant girl the household of the dramatist, librettist and poet Giulio Strozzi gave birth to an illegitimate child. The child, Barbara Strozzi, grew up in the household, becoming Giulio’s “figliuola elettiva” (elective daughter). Encouraged by Giulio she developed considerable musical talents and became known in her own lifetime as a composer and performer.

She is not so well known these days, but it was at Highgate that I first heard her music. The performance featured the same four people as the CD (Catherine Bott, Paula Chateauneuf, Timothy Roberts and Frances Kelly), which I bought that very evening.


To be fair, quite a few well known people are buried in Highgate Cemetery, but I am confining myself to one. Karl Marx was buried there in 1883, and Marxism 2015, a five-day political event begins in London tomorrow afternoon. I will be there and I intend to put up regular blog posts and tweet about being at the event – watch this space.


I finish this post as usual with two map pictures…


The full map, spread out.
The full map, spread out.