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Transport for London: A History of the London Underground Part I – The First Metropolitan Railway 1853-1863

Transport for London: A History of the London Underground Part I – The First Metropolitan Railway 1853-1863

The Metropolitan Railway Grand Opening at Farringdon Street Station:http://www.historytoday.com/sites/default/files/londontube.jpg
The Metropolitan Railway Grand Opening at Farringdon Street Station: http://www.historytoday.com/sites/default/files/londontube.jpg

For any Londoner the ”tube” plays a major part of our lives, we use it everyday to travel to work and back every weekday and probably late at night when we are half drunk from the pub on a Thursday night. The modern day London Underground tube network has served the capital for over 150 years when it initially begun as the metropolitan railway and ever since then it has expanded into a series of ant tunnels below the capital to take anyone within Greater London wherever they want to go. After living in London for quite a while now and probably taking the tube for granted I have decided to write this article which will delve through the history of the London Underground Network which has helped develop and expand the capital to what it is today.

The Metropolitan Railway

Back in the Victorian Era, London was experiencing expansion never before seen, following the period of industrialisation the inner city was becoming busier and busier, roads could no handle the influx of people and horse carriages which flooded the streets of the capital. The surface of London was bustling, the first half of the nineteenth saw huge growth in both resident and commuting population and therefore questions were being asking regarding the future for London without sufficient means of transporting these commuters from their residents to the heart of the city.

The London Population in Victorian Times

 Year London Population
1801 864,845
1811 1,009,546
1821 1,225,694
1831 1,471,941
1841 1,873,676
1851 2,362,236
1861 2,803,989
1871 3,254,260
1881 3,834,354
1891 4,232,118

Table 4, http://www.le.ac.uk/eh/teach/ug/modules/eh3107/basicpop.pdf

Construction and Opening of the Met

Before the metropolitan railway was proposed, most railways within London were independent and only served certain areas, for example the Bayswater, Paddington and Holborn Bridge Railway Company also served them areas in the West end of London. The costs were enormous and plans were cutback to reduce this by cancelling the production of the railway so reach south of Farringdon, this was also bolstered by Britain’s participation in the Crimean War at the time so finances were prioritised towards the war effort in Ukraine. The Railway was eventually completed and opened in January, 1863 after inspections from the Board of Trade in December, 1862.

The Metropolitan Railway in 1863: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Metropolitian_Railway_1863.svg
The Metropolitan Railway in 1863: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Metropolitian_Railway_1863.svg

Birth of the London Underground

The project was primarily financed by the City of London, it was viewed as an investment for the City as the problematic city congestion was having a damaging effect on business. The image above illustrates the first stage of the line before further expansion in the next few years to Moorgate and further east into the City of London. The journey itself stretched six kilometres and took just 18 minutes from one end to the other. The line carried 38,000 passengers on its first day and 9.5 million passengers in its first 12 months, these figures illustrated the enormous success of the first London underground line and showed the necessities of the line, reducing traffic and congestion on the surfaces and helped the capital control the capacity and influx of people migrating to the city and commuting.

For such a major project in a congested city it is difficult to comprehend the complexities of building these tunnels under the city, using the cut-and-cover method to dig out the tunnels, the tunnels were then built with bricks and then reinforced by strengthening beams and iron girders with the original trench. The metropolitan railway would be the start for the London Underground and the complexities of the London Underground had to start somewhere.

Wait! There’s more…

Further articles will be written by myself on the origins and history of the London underground, the next part will involve the expansion of the Met to accommodate those West in Hammersmith and those who need to travel further into the City of London East of Moorgate to produce the ”inner circle”. These expansions thus begin to formulate the modern London tube network as we know it today with several different lines crossing one another for the most efficient method of transport in our busy capital.

The Birth of Rugby

The Birth of Rugby

Like for many of you, the 2015 rugby world cup has gripped me, even for someone who previously did not really have an interest in rugby I find myself keen on going to the pub to watch two teams battle it out in the midst of the Twickenham grounds. The last time I paid much attention to rugby was when Jonny Wilkinson pelted the ball between the H. This article will briefly look at the origins of rugby and how it came into such a major inspiring commonwealth sport that it is today. I am also writing an article on the origins and history of the Haka, the ancestral war dance from the Maori people of New Zealand and its replication from the All Blacks. Now is the knock out stages with the 2015 rugby world cup coming to end in a week or so, I thought it would be suitable to explore the origins of the sport which many nations such as New Zealand and Australia have adopted as a national sport.

The Birth

Statue of William Webb Ellis outside Rugby School: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7f/WWEstatue_700.jpg
Statue of William Webb Ellis outside Rugby School: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7f/WWEstatue_700.jpg

It’s no coincidence that many of the nations who have adopted rugby as a national sport are English speaking, many of them are actually commonwealth countries inspired by its origins during the British Empire. The sport was rumoured to have been born at… you guessed it… Rugby school, an English public school where the myth of he origins of rugby was born. Legend has it the origins of ”Rugby Football” came when a boy ”who with a fine disregard for the rules of football as played in his time, first took the ball in his arms and ran with it.” 

Origins of the Claim

The story actually originates from one single source written by Matthew Bloxham, a former pupil of Rugby school who wrote of the change to a handling game from a kicking game, therefore demonstrating the act of running with the ball in hand.

“A boy of the name Ellis – William Webb Ellis – a town boy and a foundationer, … whilst playing Bigside at football in that half-year [1823], caught the ball in his arms. This being so, according to the then rules, he ought to have retired back as far as he pleased, without parting with the ball, for the combatants on the opposite side could only advance to the spot where he had caught the ball, and were unable to rush forward till he had either punted it or had placed it for some one else to kick, for it was by means of these placed kicks that most of the goals were in those days kicked, but the moment the ball touched the ground the opposite side might rush on. Ellis, for the first time, disregarded this rule, and on catching the ball, instead of retiring backwards, rushed forwards with the ball in his hands towards the opposite goal, with what result as to the game I know not, neither do I know how this infringement of a well-known rule was followed up, or when it became, as it is now, a standing rule.”


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