Mark Twain

Olympics to Olympics

Mark Twain and the Prince of Wales attended the opening of the deep-level “tube” Central Line in London in 1900. It was the first Underground line to run without a ‘church interval’ on a Sunday.

On the opening, The Daily Mail reported:

“voracious curiosity, astonished satisfaction and solid merit.  If this kind of thing goes on London will come to be quite a nice place to travel in…the conductor was all a quiver of joy and pride. But there was no indecorous exhibition of emotion. Every man was solidly British”.

The Railway Times also reported that the opening of the line had a calming effect on London’s traffic and that there were less road accidents.

As the standard fare was two old pence (2d), this led the Press to call it the “Twopenny Tube”.Unusually the tracks leading to the platforms on the Central Line were laid on shallow ‘humps’ which helps the train slow down on approach and speed up on leaving the stations. This is most obvious at St Paul’s station in the City.

When it first opened, it was meant to be called Newgate Street as the Newgate Prison is on the next block, but opened as Post Office as it serviced the headquarters of the General Post Office nearby. The name of the station was only changed to St Pauls in 1937.

The trains used on the Central Line were more powerful than the standard Underground trains and draftsmen, who had offices on Cheapside, complained that they couldn’t draw straight lines due to the vibrations caused by the trains. A Vibration Committee was set up and recommended better suspension for the Central Line locomotives.

In 1908 the line was extended to White City for the first London Olympic Games, which was held over six months.

And in 2012 the Central Line will yet again play a vital role in the Olympics helping to get Londoners, tourists, visitors and spectators to the Olympic Park in Stratford.

Dawn Denton©

www.thelegendsoflondon.wordpress.com