Tube or False?
From its beginnings in 1863, the world's first Underground railway has played a major role in developing the Capital. Perhaps you're aware of its rich art and design heritage and that it has led the way in technological innovations; but did you know it has saved lives and is even part of a soap opera?
To celebrate all the amazing and unusual things that have happened on the network over the last 150 years, we're challenging Underground users to spot whether fact really is stranger than fiction.
You've seen the posters on the Tube network, now click on the arrows to find out whether these fascinating facts are Tube or False, and find out why London Underground is one of the most exciting and interesting metros in the world.
Seat cover design currently running on the Central line
Sleeping in Tube stations during WW2
It's true. Not only did the Tube help 200,000 inner-city children escape to the country, it was also used to shelter hundreds of thousands of civilians every night during the Blitz. On 27 September 1940 a census found that a staggering 177,500 Londoners were sleeping in Tube stations. With so many people seeking shelter in the Tube, London Underground sprang into action and installed 22,000 bunk beds, washroom facilities and even ran trains that supplied seven tonnes of food and 2,400 gallons of tea and cocoa every night. Before long there were even special stations with libraries, evening classes, movies and musical evenings.
Seat cover design ran on the Northern line in the 1930s
The ghost of William Terris on the Tube
It's true. Believed by some to be creeping around the tunnels and platforms of Covent Garden in his frock coat, tall hat and gloves, you'll find the ghost of William Terris who met an untimely death near the station in 1897. Or, if you keep quiet for long enough, you may just make out the cries of the Screaming Spectre – believed to have been a milliner – rattling through Farringdon station.
Seat cover design ran on the Piccadilly line in the 1940s
Behind the Tube names
It's true. The only two Tube stations with all five vowels are Mansion House and South Ealing. And did you know that St John's Wood is the only station which does not use any of the letters in the word ‘mackerel'? Didn't think so. Why would you?
Or perhaps you can impress your friends with the origins of some of the more peculiar names on the network. For example, Seven Sisters is believed to be a line of elm trees which stood nearby until the 1830s.
And while we're on the subject of name trivia, can you guess the names of the stations in these anagrams below?
Click here for the answers
- The Icy Wit
- White City
- Pork and Hall
- Holland Park
- Idle Men
- Mile End
- Converted Nag
- Covent Garden
Seat cover design ran on the Jubilee line in the 1990's
Walford East station
It's true…although you're unlikely to find it without a trip to Elstree Studios. In the soap, Eastenders, the Tube map on the station wall puts it on the District line where Bromley-by-Bow should be. While Walford is not based in reality, it is inspired by it, with the name 'Walford' being an amalgamation of Walthamstow and Stratford in East London. All the props and paraphernalia inside the Eastenders station have been provided by London Underground to give it an authentic look.
The Tube's star quality doesn't end there – the Underground has featured in many films including 28 Weeks Later, Harry Potter and Atonement to name a few. The disused areas of the stations at Aldwych, Charing Cross, and Earl's Court are favourite filming locations for music videos, video games and film and TV.
Seat cover design ran on the Circle line in the 1970s
Escalators stretching around the world
It's true…and it's easy to see why. There are now over 400 escalators on the network which run for 20 hours a day, 364 days a year - so you can imagine how they can achieve such great distances.
And it's not just the escalators that run on for miles; the total length of track is over 250 miles long making it the second longest metro system in the world after Shanghai. Our Tube trains travel a distance of approximately 43,000,000 miles in a period of just 12 months. That's the equivalent distance of 1,735 times around the world or 90 trips to the moon and back.
Seat cover design ran on the Metropolitan line in the 1990s
Innovative spiral escalator
True to London Underground's tradition of innovation, a spiral escalator was installed in 1907 at Holloway Road station, but despite such inventiveness, conventional linear escalators were favoured for the rest of the network. Only a small section of the spiral escalator now remains in the custody of the London Transport Museum at Acton Depot.
Seat cover design ran on the Metropolitan line in the 1960s
Roman city walls
It's true. A small section of the wall still survives in the trackside walls of Tower Hill station at platform level. One of the largest fragments of the London Wall also stands just outside this station. These walls were built to last and remained in active use for over 1,000 years afterwards. During the Second World War, they even survived the devastation of the Blitz. Interestingly, very many Tube stations preserve their own bit of history in their own unique way. For example, Bounds Green's recent refurbishment has conserved the Holden-style historical features and was awarded Grade II listed status by English Heritage. Finsbury Park station features murals that show a pair of duelling pistols, a reminder of the days when gentlemen would visit the park after hours to defend their honour!