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Top 5 Facts London Underground


Written by Savannah Sher Even if you take the tube every day, you may not know all its secrets. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 5 Facts About the London Underground. For this list, we’re looking at fun and interesting pieces of info about London’s transit system. Special thanks to our user dan23 for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 5 Facts About the London Underground


Even if you take the tube every day, you may not know all its secrets. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 5 Facts About the London Underground.

For this list, we’re looking at fun and interesting pieces of info about London’s transit system.


#5: Over 1,000 Corpses Lie Under Aldgate Station


By the 17th century, London was becoming overcrowded. So when the plague hit the city, it was a hotbed for the spreading of disease. The Black Death was a rapid killer that took a significant portion of London’s population. The city’s cemeteries were full so organizers had to do something about the bodies that were starting to fill the streets. As a solution, they created plague pits where they could fit many bodies at once. In the early 21st century, excavators have discovered one of these centuries-old pits in the area underneath Aldgate Station, but they exist all over the city, including areas that the underground passes through.


#4: It Has Been Around for a Really Long Time


The idea of connecting London through an underground railway was first conceived in the 1830s, but it was only in the mid-1850s that the Metropolitan Railway was given the okay to start construction on an underground line. While the underwater tunnel known as the Thames Tunnel was done by 1843, money issues resulted in the actual building of the railway to only begin in 1860. And so it was on January 10th, 1863 that the world’s first passenger-carrying underground railway opened its doors. The Metropolitan Railway ran from Paddington – then called Bishop's Road – and Farringdon Street, with engineers using wooden carriages that were propelled by steam locomotives. The system was expanded extensively over the following years. By 1900, the Central London Railway was opened, which is part of what is now the Central Line. Passengers on the inaugural trip of this new line included the likes of King Edward VII - who was then the Prince of Wales - and author Mark Twain.


#3: It Has Developed Its Own Species


During World War II, 180,000 people were housed in the London Underground and they had to put up with a wide variety of pests and vermin due to the sanitation standards at the time. Years later however, a doctoral student named Katharine Byrne decided to look into one of these biters. After collecting mosquitoes from various points across the Underground, Byrne concluded that these samples were markedly different from the mosquitoes that lived above ground in the area. The above ground mosquitoes fed mainly on birds while the underground mosquitoes fed on humans. The two species have become distinct enough that they can’t even procreate together any longer.


#2: The Story Behind the Map’s Unique Design


The distinct appearance of the Tube map is recognizable worldwide. Prior to 1931 however, the map of the London Underground looked very different. Harry Beck, an engineering draughtsman for the London Underground, decided he wanted to do something different. His map is a “schematic diagram,” meaning that it doesn’t accurately display the exact locations of stations and lines but rather their relative positions. Beck made the observation that people using the Tube didn’t need to know the precise geographical locations, but rather wanted an easy to navigate system. He created the map in his spare time, and is said to have been paid a mere 10 guineas for his work.


#1: Stations Were Used as Shelters in WWII


The London Underground has a long and illustrious history, but there is likely no period more interesting than the Second World War. In 1940, during the months-long period of bombing known as “The Blitz,” many Londoners sought refuge underground in the easily accessible tube stations. During that time, eight deep-level air-raid shelters were built under existing Underground stations to be able to hold even more citizens safely. These new tunnels weren’t finished until after the Blitz, so during the most volatile time period, the original tube stations were the ones to give shelter to frightened Londoners. Specialty supply trains would run each night to bring food and warm beverages to the refugees.

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