Jonathan Makepeace looks at the building of the world’s first underground railway…
This year celebrates the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, the world’s first metro system, with the first trains running on the Metropolitan Railway in January 1863. Intended to relieve congestion in a rapidly growing London, the ‘Met’ was carrying 12 million passengers per annum within two years.
This image from the Builder (1861) shows the Met in the final stages of construction looking east towards King’s Cross. Engineered by Sir John Fowler, who was also one of the designers of the Forth Railway Bridge, this section of the line was built by the cut-and-cover method. Branching off to the left is the very short-lived ‘Maiden Lane Curve’ running to the east side of King’s Cross mainline station allowing the Great Northern Railway to run directly through to Paddington.
Imaging Services Manager, British Architectural Library, RIBA