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Friday, 10 May 2013

98) Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the London Underground: Two Pound Commemorative Coins minted by the Royal Mint U.K. showing the “Roundel” logo and a “train” emerging from a tunnel.

98) Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the London Underground: Two Pound Commemorative Coins minted by the Royal Mint U.K. showing the “Roundel” logo and a “train” emerging from a tunnel.

Planning and construction of the London Underground:
The idea of a London Underground Railway linking the City of London was mooted in the 1830s.

In 1843, the Thames Tunnel designed by Marc Brunel was completed. It was the first tunnel ever to be built under a navigable river. It is now an integral part of the London Underground.

The above achievement renewed the idea of the London Underground, when Charles Pearson, a Londoner, mooted the concept for a Fleet Valley Rail Tunnel in 1845.

The Metropolitan Railway, a private company, was granted permission to build the Underground Railway in 1854. 

John Fowler was given the project for designing sound engineering solutions for putting Pearson’s concepts on the ground. Fowler’s other achievements included designing and construction of the ‘Forth Railway Bridge”.

The opening of the Metropolitan Railway line, with the inaugural run of the first Tube Train between Paddington and Farringdon on 09th January 1863 heralded the coming of the World’s first Underground Railway which ultimately, proved to be a phenomenal success. The Metropolitan line opened to the public the following day and was an instant success with 40000 passengers being drawn to its novelty.

It was a landmark feat of Victorian Engineering and the thrill of “travelling under the streets of the Metropolis” was a tremendous experience and excitement for the passengers.

The “Tube” became a proper name in the 1900s after the Central London Railway (now the Central Line) was nicknamed the “Twopenny Tube”.

The claustrophobic carriages on the early underground trains were nicknamed the “padded cells”.

Within a few months of opening, the Tube was carrying 30000-40000 passengers a day, leading to the development of new lines, such as the Metropolitan District Railway which had a fierce rivalry with the original Metropolitan Railway. The two were connected by the Inner Circle, in 1884.

Countering adverse criticism with Positive features:

At its inception, several Londoners including the Press were skeptical whether the Underground Travel concept would catch on. The London Underground was ridiculed much as a transport system. Some labeled it as “an insult to common sense”.

There was apprehension about travelling through dark, noisome tunnels, rat infested tracks, soaked with sewer drippings and poisoned by the escape of gas mains. Nevertheless, about 40000 passengers travelled on the London Underground on day one and it has never looked back since then. Passenger amenities have been increased manifold since then.

The Metropolitan Railway’s initiatives were all the more remarkable in that it was the only underground railway in the World ever to be operated by steam engines. The steam engines used in the early days of the tube were fitted with mechanisms to condense/capture the smoke. The train stopped at designated points where there were chimney like openings from the tube to the surface. The units would then open and let the stored smoke out which went up the chimney to the surface.

Some people felt that the atmosphere was not healthy and local medicine shops did brisk business, selling “Metropolitan mixtures” near the stations to “revive choking passengers”.

The Metropolitan countered this notion with their own advertisements that a ride on its Underground Railway was a kind of “health cure for persons suffering from Asthma” for which the sulphurous and other fumes were highly beneficial.

Seeing the immense popularity of the London Underground among Londoners, between 1891 and 1893, five more Tube Railways under London were authorized by Parliament. The Waterloo and City Line was the only other line to be built before the turn of the century.

Other Benefits:

The London Underground motivated people to move to cheaper housing locations outside and on the outskirts of London with bigger and greener surroundings, instead of looking for highly priced accommodation near their work places within the city.
 It facilitated commuting to/from the outskirts of London which became very easy and helped with the rapid settling of outskirts of London.

Crossrail, the new tunnel under London linking Liverpool Street and Paddington stations which will be ready by the end of this decade is currently Europe’s biggest construction project.
True, the Cross Rail will be built to a very high standard with fabulous stations but, the remarkable feat of the Nineteenth century Tube Engineers and planners is put in perspective when one is confronted with the information that the cross Rail Project stayed on the Drawing Board for almost 70 years, indicating that London was so well served by the existing Underground Railway that implementing any supplementary projects made the planners proceed with extreme caution.

Present Day:

-      Today, the London Underground transports nearly 1110 million passengers annually.

-       There are 270 stations with Baker Street having the most number of platforms.

-      The busiest station is Waterloo which has about 57000 passengers during peak hours in the morning.

-      The total length of the Tube is 402 km/249 miles.

-      Every year every Tube train travels 114500 miles on an average or 184269 km.

-      Only about 45 per cent of the network is actually in tunnels. The longest continuous tunnel is between East Finchley and Morden and is 27.8 km /17.25 miles long.

-      A staff of about 20000 employees serves in the Underground.

-      The deepest station below station level in Central London is Bank which is about 41.4 metres deep. In Outer London, Hampstead is the deepest station below street level at 58.5 metres.

-      Eleven London Underground Lines have commenced operations at various points of time: Metropolitan Line (since 1863 – Map colour Dark Magenta), District Line (since 1868 – Map colour Green), Circle Line (since 1884 – Map colour Yellow), Northern Line (since 1890 – Map Colour Black), Waterloo & City Line (since 1898 – Map colour Turquoise), Central Line (since 1900 – Map colour Red), Bakerloo Line (since 1906 – Map colour Brown), Piccadilly Line (since 1906 – Map colour Dark Blue), Victoria Line (since 1968 – Map colour Light blue), Jubilee Line (since 1979 – Map colour Silver),  Hammersmith & City Line ( since 1988 – Map colour Pink).

-      In 2012, The London Underground has provided Wi-Fi hotspots in many stations giving internet access to passengers, but not in the tunnels.

-      The Tube usually runs for 24 hours during New Year, however it stayed open all night during the 2012 Olympics opening and Closing ceremonies.

The Map:

-      One of the first rail maps produced by the District Line in 1892 featured the slogan “Time is Money” on the cover.

-      The first free Underground map was released in 1908, a joint marketing enterprise by various private companies which ran the separate lines.

-      The classical diagrammatic Underground map designed by Harry Beck, was first produced in 1931, inspired by electrical circuit diagrams. It was the first Underground map in topographical form. In 1959, Beck’s name was removed from the Map until the 1990s, when he was once again acknowledged as its creator and “H.C. Beck” reappeared on the large format station maps.

A LU Map from our visit to London in 2006 shows the colour codes of the various Lines

This is a manifold magnification of the small print next to the Roundel on the map. It is as if LT/LU is apologetic to acknowledge  Harry Beck's contribution.
The front of the LU/LT Map They have no problem acknowledging the Mayor of London on this face
The original trains had three different classes costing three, four and six pence for a single journey. In 2006, during our London trip, we paid 12 Pounds for a single journey between Redhill and Victoria stations. One estimate places the full fare between Covent Garden and Leicester Square (0.16 miles) at over 28 Pounds a mile charge.
Train tickets from our trip to London in 2006

In 2002-03, the Oyster card touch ticketing system was introduced.

Mind the Gap announcements:

The original recording of “Mind the Gap” was made in 1968 featuring the voice of sound recordist Peter Lodge. At present, most lines still use Peter Lodge’s recording, some others use a recording by voice artist Emma Clarke. The Piccadilly line uses the voice of Tim Bentinck.

 In 1969, “Mind the Gap” announcements were introduced in Embankment station in a voice recorded by Oswald Lawrence and taken to several other Public Address systems. Later on, Laurence’s original recordings were phased out as the Public Address systems were upgraded over the years, until the northbound platform on the Northern line at Embankment station was the only place it could be heard and then it was phased out.

Interestingly, the widow of  Oswald Laurence, has requested the Transport of London Authorities (TL) to give her an original copy of her husband’s original announcement recordings, and they have not only readily obliged by hunting out the recording from their archives for her, but have restored Laurence’s original announcement at the Northbound platform of the Northern line at Embankment station. 

Over the years, several recordings of “Mind the Gap” were made along with “Stand clear of the doors please” which have been used on Tube Railways for the safety of passengers.

For today’s generations wedded to a jet speed internet culture, these announcements by people from another period of time, anchor the passengers to London’s past.

London Underground Art:

London Underground has had a lot of distinguished artists contributing their creations in the past - Works/posters of some of the artists are: London Network’s Headquarters in St James Park has reliefs by Jacob Epstein, 1930s posters by Man Ray, Paul Nash and Edward Wadsworth.

Scottish sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi designed the mosaic murals at Tottenham Court Road station which was completed by 1984.

Southwark Station’s blue cone wall, built as part of the Jubilee line extension’s new generation stations was inspired by an 1816 stage set for “The Magic Flute”.

The ceramics on the City and South London Railway (now part of the Northern Line) were inspired by the designs of artist William Morris.

Since 2000, there has been the “Art on the Underground” project with works of Jeremy Deller and Cindy Sherman etc.

The Underground Sans font, still used in a modified form for all the Tube posters and design, was created by Edward Johnston in 1916.

The Victoria Line commissioned artists to produce original tile motifs for each station, including the seven trees which give even Sisters its name.

The Labyrinth Project is the largest ever Art commission by the London Underground. A total of 270 black and white enamel artworks are being placed in London’s Tube stations as a celebration of the 150th Anniversary, being put together by well known U.K. Artist Mark Wallinger. The designs are in the form of labyrinths. Each Tube station will have a square enamel panel 60 cm x 60 cm with a different labyrinth on it.

The Art on the Underground is also commissioning 15 leading contemporary artists to create an image as one in a set of 15 artworks as a lasting visual legacy for the anniversary.

Ghost “stories”:

-      A ghost named Annie Naylor, a dead milliner, nicknamed the “Screaming Spectre” is said to haunt Farringdon station.

-      Similarly, actor William Terris’ ghost is said to haunt Covent Garden.

-      A prototype smokeless locomotive built in 1861 by Robert Stephenson and Co. never made it into service, earning it the nickname “Fowler’s Ghost”.

-      Disused stations known as “ghost” stations, such as Aldwych, Down Street and Lord’s, are used as Film and TV Sets.

Suicide Pits:

-      The space below the tube tracks are nicknamed as “suicide pits” as they help reduce the chance of death or serious injury should someone jump in front of a train.  Nevertheless, about 50 suicides are reported every year. The Jubilee Line is the only Line which has protective screens along its platforms.

London Underground Train Stock comes in two sizes:

-      The larger sub-surface trains (stock identified by “S-Stock”) and the smaller deep tube trains (stock identified by the year of manufacture for ex. “2002 Stock”).

-      All passenger trains now have electric multiple units with sliding doors. All trains have been designed for taking the maximum number of standing passengers to provide for rush hour traffic and for speed of access to cars and have regenerative braking and public address systems.

-      In the 1990s due to a boom in graffiti, the “silver” tube trains were replaced with the red, white and blue painted ones.

-      LU has done away with having Guards on trains since 2000.

Serving as Air Raid shelters during the two World Wars:

1)  First World War:

-      In 1917, German Bomb Raids on London led to about 300000 Londoners taking shelter in Tube stations.

-      A white marble memorial at Baker Street Station commemorates 137 Metropolitan Railway employees killed during the First World War.

2)  Second World War:

London Transport helped evacuate 600000 children, expectant mothers, senior citizens from London to the countryside.

Despite administrative instructions not to use the Underground as Air-raid shelters, several persons took shelter in the Underground stations, most after buying cheap penny tickets and refusing to leave the platforms. Nicknamed the “Tubites” or “squatters” at the optimum level about 200000 people took shelter in the Tube stations every night. “Tube Refreshment services” were opened for serving these people.

Trains continued to travel throughout the Air-raids. Nevertheless, several Tube stations were hit by Bombs during the Air-Raids. About 200 persons were killed during Air raids, with the worst incident being of 56 persons killed on 13.01.1941 at Bank Station. Also 173 persons died during a stampede at Bethnal station. London Transport too, lost about 200 employees during the World War II.

Animal/insect forms inside the London Underground:

-      London Underground has deer, grass snakes, half a million mice, and mosquitoes, including an evolved species in the London Underground called the “Culex pipiens molestus”. In all over 35 animal species have been identified in the London Underground at various points of time.

Other tidbits on the London Underground:

-      In the 1860s, only basic signage – the station name and exit - was provided on the Underground.

-      In 1907, a photographic survey was taken of all station exteriors in order to establish ways in which a more uniform design style could be achieved.

-      Etiquette posters, telling people to move down the car and to let passengers off first, have been produced since the early years of the Tube.

-      The tunnels on Central Line twist and turn because they follow the curves of London’s medieval street plans.

-      There is a prevalent North /South divide on the Underground with less than 10 % stations are South of the Thames.

-      In 1884, smoking was banned across the Tube Network, after a fire at King’s Cross killed 31 passengers.

-      In 1890, the City and South London Railway opened. It was the first “deep-level” electrically operated railway in the World running from the City to Stockwell.

-      In 1903, the Central London line became the first Railway in Britain to be worked entirely by multiple-unit trains. In other words, the trains no longer needed to be turned around when they reached the end of the line.

-      By 1905, all the Tube Lines had adopted multiple-unit trains.

-      The Underground was funded entirely by private companies until the 1930s.

-      In 1978, Hannah Dadds became the first woman Underground train driver.

-      Kennington is the only surviving City and South London Railway station that remains close to its original condition, still featuring a domed roof.

-      All seven of the Tube’s original stations are still in use, although only Edgware Road and Baker Street retain their Victorian–era names.

-      The grand opening of the “Victoria Line”, or “London’s Pride” took place on 07.03.1969. Queen Elizabeth II was the first reigning monarch who took the inaugural ride on the Victoria Line from Green Park.

-      Since 2003, musicians require a licence to busk on the Tube.

150th Anniversary Celebrations:

From 09.01.2013 onwards, London Underground is celebrating its 150th Anniversary, in partnership with London Transport Museum, with a series of activities and events, including screenings of London Underground themed films from the BFI archive at Canary Wharf station.

Two new Tube Map cover commissions and a new project at Gloucester Road station are on the cards.

An exclusive collection of gifts and souvenirs comprising posters, glassware and ceramics, inspired by imagery of the LU logos and poster archives have been launched.

Commemorative Coins issued by the Royal Mint, U.K.:

The 150th Anniversary has been commemorated by the Royal Mint, U.K. by bringing out two beautiful 2 Pound coins.

 The reverse of the above coin depicts a  Victoria Line Tube Train hurtling out of a tunnel which is reminiscent of the innovative 1967 stock created specially for the new Victorian line and has been styled by Misha Black’s Design Research Unit. The computer controlled trains were given a chic look with silver aluminium finish and wrap around windscreens.

This design has been made by Ed Barber and Jay Osgerby who designed the London Olympic Torch. The coin carries an unusual patterned edge inscription which is a linear representation of the Tube map inspired by Harry Beck’s tube map.
The reverse of the other coin depicts an Underground “Roundel”. On the reverse of this coin, it gives the impression of a roundel on the move and recalls the iconic 1948 posters by Man Ray. It has been made by Edwina Ellis. She has earlier worked as an artist on “Art on the Underground “Projects in 1996 in several stations.

Interestingly, the familiar World-famous London Underground Roundel evolved from the “bar and circle” logo displayed on station platforms since 1908.Nevertheless, around 60 stations had the Metropolitan Line’s red diamond logo instead of the Roundel between 1919 and 1970s.

The  edge inscription bears the familiar advice: “MIND THE GAP”.
The obverse faces of the two coins

Obverse of the above coins shows the Queen’s portrait facing right designed by Ian Rank-Broadley.
The specifications of both the two pound coins are:

Metal Composition: Outer ring: Nickel Brass; Inner Ring: Cupro-Nickel

Diameter: 28.40 mm; Coin quality   : BU (Brilliant Uncirculated)

Weight: 12.00 gms

Both the 150th anniversary coins have been planned with the assistance of experts at Transport for London and London Transport Museum and designed by three of the U.K.’s leading designers.


British Crown Dependencies:

1) Specimen Banknotes from the States of Jersey

2) Coinage and Currency from the States of Jersey

3) Currency & Coinage of the Bailiwick of Guernsey

4) Currency & Coinage of Gibraltar : An Overseas Territory of Great Britain

5) Coinage of Gibraltar: (A British Overseas Territory): An Uncirculated Decimal Coin Collection Set minted by the Tower Mint, UK in 2010
6) The Isle of Man: An Uncirculated Decimal Coin Collection Set minted by Pobjoy Mint, UK in 2015

7) The Centenary of the ill-fated Titanic (15.04.1912 - 15.04.2012): An Alderney Five Pound Coin Commemorating the Maritime Legend

8) "Man of Steel": A Superman Movie: A set of stamps brought out in 2013 by Jersey post, the States of Jersey, commemorating Henry William Dalgliesh Cavill who played Superman in the Movie

9) Coins & Currency of Bermuda

10) The Bailiwick of Jersey - Presently circulating coinage - Pounds and Pence 

11) St. Helena & Ascension Islands: An Uncirculated Coin Set from 2003 

12) The Legend of the "HMAV Bounty" is interwoven with the heritage of the Pitcairn Islands: An uncirculated coin set from Pitcairn Islands in 2009 depicting the icons/relics of the Bounty minted by the New Zealand Mint 

Famous Battles

1) Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo and Napoleon's Exile to St. Helena: (Part I): A One Crown Commemorative coin issued by the Ascension Island (minted by Pobjoy Mint UK) 

2) Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo and Napoleon's Exile to st. Helena: (Part II) 1) A 5 GBP Coin issued by the Royal Mint UK. 2) A"Drie Landen Zilverset" ( ot the "Three Lands Silver set") containing coins issued by the Royal Dutch Mint including coins of Netherlands, Belgium and UK

3) Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain by issuing a 50 Pence coin by the Royal Mint UK

Gold Coins:
1) Gold Sovereigns issued in 2013 & 2014 by MMTC-PAMP in India under licence from the Royal Mint, UK, carrying the "I" Mint Mark

2) Gold Half-Sovereigns minted by MMTC-PAMP in India in 2014 under licence from the Royal Mint UK bearing the "I" Mint Mark 

Silver Coins:

1) A 20 Pound Silver coin minted for the first timr by the royal Mint UK: reverse design carries the famous St. George slaying the dragon design found on Gold Sovereigns 

British India Coinage:

 1) East India Company Quarter Anna Copper Coin which is one of the first issues under the Coinage Act 1835

2) Victoria Coinage: When she was Queen and afterwards Empress

3) Edward VII: King & Emperor  Coinage

4) George V King Emperor Coinage

5) George VI: The last of the British India Emperors Coinage 

Other British Royalty: 

1) Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee Celebrations (1952-2012): A Five Pound Commemorative coin issued by the Royal Mint, UK

2) Commemorating Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation in 1953: A Five Pound Coin minted by the Royal Mint UK in 2013, depicting the Imperial State Crown

3) The Royal Coat of Arms of the UK: Great British 2012 Coin Set (Uncirculated) issued by the Royal Mint UK

4) Prince George's Christening Ceremony celebrated with coins issued by the Royal Mint UK in 2013

5) The British Empire:  A Case of Numismatic "segregation": (Guest Post by Rahul Kumar)

6) 1) The Portrait Collection: Various Portraits of Queen Elizabeth II on Coinage 2) The Fourth & Final Circulating coinage of the Portrait designed by Ian Rank-Broadley and the First Edition of the portrait of the Queen made by Jody Clark

 British Coinage:

1) The contribution of the Great British One-Pound coins in keeping alive the historical legends/emblems/heritage of the UK (1983 onwards)

2) Transformation of a Five shilling Coin (Crown) into the UK Twenty-five Pence & then the Five Pound Coin

3) Transformation of the Two Shilling Coin (Florin) Coin into the UK Ten Pence

4) The 350th Anniversary of the Guinea: A Two Pound Coin issued by the Royal Mint UK celebrating the milestone

 Commemorative British Coinage:

 1) Commemorating the Bicentenary of Charles Dickens: A Two pound coin celebrating his literary contributions during the Victorian Era

 2) Commemorating 50 Years of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) - presently called the World Wide Fund for Nature by issue of a Fifty Pence coin by the Royal Mint, UK

3) Coins commemorating London Olympics & Paralympics (2012)

4) Commemorating 150 Years of the London Underground : Two pound Coins minted by the Royal Mint UK, showing the "Roundel" logo and a train emerging from a tunnel 

5) Commemorating the 100th Birth anniversary of Christopher Ironside with his" Royal Arms" design on a 50 Pence coin issued by the Royal Mint, UK 

6) 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta - the Universal Guidepost to Liberty and Freedom

Inspirations from Scottish History: 

1) The Legend of King Bruce & the Spider on Banknotes

Banknotes from Scotland:
1) Commemorating Sir William Arrol and his creation the Forth Rail Bridge by issues of Britain's first ever 5 Pound Polymer Banknote


  1. Superb post... Unfortunately, have not gotten these coins from circulation as yet.

    1. Thank you Rahul. That is because these are extremely popular coins in the UK and are immediately going to "coin collection" jars.