The joy of detective work

I’ve said it before and no doubt I’ll say it again: it pays to be public about your tube geekery. Only weeks ago it resulted in the delights of the Embankment map, this week it’s gifted me an old map discovered while clearing out a father’s belongings. With no date on it, it was ripe for a bit of detective work…

As I mentioned with the Embankment map, there are plenty of clues to the age of a tube map – you just need to find them and start sorting through them in order to come with a date window. So, for this one (which is a corker) I’m going to give you the map first and let you play. If you want to try and work out the date yourself, go ahead! The process of deduction I went through will be shown below the photo, so feel free to maximise the photo and get busy with all your accumulated tube knowledge and the aid of Wikipedia. Honestly, it’s a lot of fun!

Here’s the map:

Antique MapOk, it’s not brilliant quality – I blame the unfortunate combination of iPhone & artificial light.

When I first opened this up, my first observation (mainly just because of how I unfolded it) was that we were looking at the network before the creation of the separate East London and Hammersmith & City Lines – both were still in the beautiful purple of the Metropolitan Line. But, as I looked, I saw plenty of other matters of interest that could help me with the date.

  • Missing lines are a MASSIVE indicator of age. What’s missing from this map? The Jubilee and the Victoria Lines – immediately (once you’ve checked the date of the Victoria’s opening) you’ve gone back decades.
  • Are any lines longer or shorter than they are now? The Piccadilly Line is pre-Heathrow; the Central carries on up to Ongar; the Metropolitan goes all the way to Aylesbury; and the Bakerloo includes Watford.
  • Is there anything else completely random that takes you by surprise? In this instance, I was taken aback by the inclusion of Finsbury Park as a branch on the Northern Line.
  • Are any lines different colours compared to modern maps? See above for the ELL and H&C, but on this map the Waterloo & City is white, not teal.

Once you’ve got your list, it’s time for the vortex that is the Wikipedia London Transport portal. Simply looking up the name of a line or a station will answer most questions about dates – its reliable thanks to the hoards of geeks who update the articles. And thus, I was able to establish these key facts:

  • The Victoria Line opened in 1968.
  • Hatton Cross (the precursor to the Heathrow stations) opened in 1975.
  • The Epping-Ongar extension closed in 1994.
  • The Metropolitan extension to Aylesbury closed in 1961.
  • Finsbury Park left the Northern Line in 1964 (ready for the Victoria Line).

Thus, I was able to arrive at an latest possible date of 1961. Could I get any more specific? Well, while Googling the colour of the W&C Line, I discovered a rather fabulous website that chronicles the changes of the tube map, complete with as many examples as possible. There wasn’t a map published in 1961, so it was a choice between the 19561958, 1959 and 1960 versions. My deductions continued…

  • 1958 and 1960 had ‘River Thames’ written on the river, mine did not.
  • 1956 was labelled ‘Railways’; 1960 ‘Underground’ – mine was the latter.

It therefore seemed clear that what I held in my hands dated back to 1959. A map that was over half a century old!

1959 Tube Map

It’s a special thing – not least because it’s one of the last to have actually been designed by Beck (1960 was his last – apparently London Underground disagreed with his proposal for how to insert the Victoria Line). It’s also special because it’s been annotated. My friend Sally’s Dad clearly used it well, noting down times and prices on its cover and obliterating Shoreditch station. (For good reason, apparently it was ‘often closed’ – Wikipedia doesn’t get more specific about why, unfortunately.) It’s a real map, used for actual travelling, and for that reason I utterly love it!

Friday Fun with Secrets

Straight in with the fun today, no messing…

Previously, Friday Fun has featured episodes in a series created by Londonist, sharing the secrets of each London underground line. This week, the series concluded with the Metropolitan Line (and a special on the Waterloo & City – appropriate as I travelled on it for the first time in years on Wednesday!). Honestly, these videos are GENIUS and will provide you with all sorts of tube knowledge that will impress/annoy those you travel with for years to come.

Even if you watched some of them before, they bear re-watching – you’ll always discover something you missed. I now have a list of things I need to look out for on my various travels…

Moving on to a different form of transportation. It’s now 8 days since I favourited a tweet including this video on Twitter (bad me for not Friday Funning last week) and I know it’s been widely shared. However, I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone I know share it on Facebook, so perhaps this will be a new one on you. If not, who cares?! It’s brilliant. This is what one man did to kill time while having to overnight at Las Vegas airport, equipped only with an iPhone, a roll of tape and a trolley case – plus a love of Celine Dion:

I love airports and I have a soft-spot for Celine – in fact, this version of All By Myself is the first one I heard, thanks to a teenage collection of her albums. Don’t judge me. It was the 90’s and I love a good power ballad.

On the subject of air travel, I am seriously in need of a long-haul adventure sometime soon – complete with all the novelties and deprivations of flying (limitless films versus limited leg room). I can’t decide if I feel better about flying, or worse, having read this great article on flying in a bygone age – complete with a large slideshow of photos. Definitely worth a perusal.

Sleeping In FlightCan you imagine the luxury??

Finally, a return to one of my favourite Friday Fun topics: periods. It’s been a while (largely because comedy on the subject is rather niche) but this is excellent. Brought to you by the same company who created last year’s Camp Gyno video, what if you were thrown a ‘First Moon’ party because your mother knew you were lying about having started?!

So. Much. Joy.
“Do you sell vagina cakes?”
“Do you know how hard it is to find a uterus piñata?”
“You’re missing the vagician!”
“Periods don’t have glitter in them!”

And with that, I’ll let you enjoy your Friday and all that the weekend throws at you!

Friday Fun (for a Saturday evening)

Apologies for the hiatus. When one has to hand in 8,000+ words of essays, immediately followed by a similar number of words across 3 sermons, the desire to write any other words is minimal! Still, the break means that there’s plenty of fun for this week!

[Also an apology for the fact that I wrote most of it on Friday, but then got distracted and forgot to post it. Rather than extending my hiatus further, I thought I’d better publish it now. Fun is fun regardless of the day…]

So, for starters, some London fun. Firstly, there’s been a lot of excitement on Twitter about the forthcoming opening of the Mail Rail as part of the Postal Museum due to open in a couple of years time at Mount Pleasant. I’ve mentioned the Mail Rail before – it’s a classic piece of hidden London geekery and thus the prospect of actually getting to ride is quite exciting. In case you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, Time Out have a collection of photos that takes you behind the scenes of the currently mothballed postal transport system:

Mail Rail

Moving on to the better known London underground network… Someone this week announced that they’d visited every single tube station and taken a photo of the roundel there. Excellent work Mr Mike Turnball!

Roundels...A screenshot from his Flickr stream.

This then opened the floodgates to others who had completed a similar feat. I loved this photo of a roundel made up of roundel photos:

Roundel, CottonSteve Cotton’s Roundel, via Londonist.

Other people turn their photos of roundels into videos. I liked the animation-style element of this one:

To wrap things up for this week, we return to a Friday Fun theme of old – the dulcet tones of the Swingles. This is one of their latest video offerings, a cover of Mumford & Sons After the Storm. [Warning: if you’re anti-beard, you may want to watch this from a distance as the camera goes rather close up to the epic beard sported by their hirsute tenor.]

Friday Fun on January’s Final Friday

Right, let’s get this Friday morning off to an excellent start with a plethora of TfL geekery. I assume you’ll all have seen last week’s Buzzfeed genius ranking of Tube lines by now, but do check it out if you haven’t. Its brilliance can be summed up in its final sentence about the DLR:

“IT’S A MAGICAL ROBOT SKYTRAIN FROM THE FUTURE AND YOU CAN SIT IN THE DRIVING SEAT.”

You may well have also already seen the video proving that the Jubilee Line’s ticket gates fit musically into Blur’s Song 2, but I’m going to share it here regardless, for the following reasons:
1. I have a very soft spot for Blur.
2. I have a slightly less soft spot for the Jubilee Line, but it was my line of commute for five years.

Following the Sherlock-disused stations drama, a map of disused tube stations was shared widely, but it turns out that someone else was hard at work putting together a version that’s even more useful – sharing details such as what is visible above ground. Perfect for anyone who wants to go abandoned station hunting! [As an aside, I was at a meeting earlier this week where I found myself sitting next to someone who also had a passion for such stations – it made small talk so much easier!]

AbandonedStations

Next, a little tube and statistic fun. (Everybody finds statistics fun, right?) Firstly, a neat site that illustrates the the differences in annual entrance/exits of tube stations between certain years.

London Tube Map Stats

Secondly, a mapping tool I discovered during Monday’s lecture on gerantology and theology (that’s the technical term for the study of the elderly), that maps life expectancy and child deprivation data onto the tube map. I liked this firstly because the lecturer shared it with us with the opening line: “I know some of you like the tube – and I’m sure Liz will be especially keen on this”; and secondly, because it combines ONS data with the tube map, which quite frankly is a work of statistical genius. [I should also mention this is the first lecture we’ve had from this member of staff – such is the joy of lecturers following you on Twitter…]

Lives on the line mapThe same team has also mapped London’s surnames, which is similarly fascinating.

Thirdly, a map that’s less statistical and more theological. The genius that is Theologygrams (previously featured for some of their wit on major theologians) has produced a tube-style map of Paul’s missionary journeys. It’s fabulous, on many levels (I particularly liked the proposed extension to Spain). Unsurprisingly, several people saw this and immediately thought to themselves “Theology and the underground?? I must tell Liz about this!”  – the lovely Rhona got in first, literally by only 2 minutes! My friends clearly know me well…

paul-tube-map-final

Oh, and finally, I can’t wrap up a London Transport geek-fest without sharing the gems I bought at the London Transport Museum shop last weekend. (On two separate visits, because that’s how much I love that shop and its sales…)

TfL shoppingSaturday’s purchases: a moquette Christmas tree decoration & River Thames tiles (to be used as coasters).

Tube status magnets Sunday’s purchases: Tube line status magnets – as used on actual status boards, back in the days before they were all electronic screens. Now, if only I had my own list of lines for the fridge…