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The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground was Built and How it Changed the City Forever (English Edition)
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The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground was Built and How it Changed the City Forever (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Christian Wolmar

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Présentation de l'éditeur

Since the Victorian era, London's Underground has had played a vital role in the daily life of generations of Londoners. In The Subterranean Railway, Christian Wolmar celebrates the vision and determination of the nineteenth-century pioneers who made the world's first, and still the largest, underground passenger railway: one of the most impressive engineering achievements in history.

From the early days of steam to electrification, via the Underground's contribution to twentieth-century industrial design and its role during two world wars, the story comes right up to the present with its sleek, driverless trains and the wrangles over the future of the system. The Subterranean Railway reveals London's hidden wonder in all its glory and shows how the railway beneath the streets helped create the city we know today.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 4257 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 384 pages
  • Editeur : Atlantic Books (1 octobre 2009)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Creating The Gap of "Mind the Gap!" 24 novembre 2008
Par Joseph Haschka - Publié sur
"The District (Line) ... attracted considerable negative (press) coverage with various mechanical failures and, in particular, its primitive air-operated doors which apparently had a tendency to tear off ladies' skirts, something particularly shocking to the Edwardian psyche." - from THE SUBTERRANEAN RAILWAY

Disclaimer: If you've never visited London and/or fallen in love with the Underground, or at least have no interest in how such mass transportation evolves, then you're likely to find THE SUBTERRANEAN RAILWAY excruciatingly boring. So, as is advised at the stations, just "pass along the platform", so to speak.

Having had the good fortune to enjoy Britain's capital many times, I've found the Tube to be both indispensable and an inseparable adjunct to any visit. Thus, for me, Christian Wolmar's volume about the evolution of this below-ground railway, from its inception in the mind of visionary Charles Pearson in the first half of the 19th century to the present day, was as enthralling as any couldn't-put-it-down thriller. OK, so I need to get a life.

THE SUBTERRANEAN RAILWAY includes two sections of black and white illustrations and photographs of the Underground both then and now, but mostly then. There's also a color section that comprises two route maps of the system from the early 20th century that are geographically correct - something I've never seen before - plus the more familiar schematic rendering of the network conceived by Harry Beck in 1931 and based on an electric circuit diagram. The version of the latter, current as of about 2006, spreads over two pages. Unfortunately the central fold of the volume rests squarely on the route of the Northern Line from Camden Town to Kennington and several stations are lost in the crease. Nevermind, I just pulled out my London A-z (Street Atlas) to get my bearings. One thing Wolmar left unexplained, though, is the odd side-loop from Leytonstone to Woodford via Fairlop that the Central line takes near its eastern terminus. What's that all about? (The unredeemably curious must consult Wikipedia.)

The narrative focuses mainly on the construction, expansion and consolidation of the various lines - all originally under separate, private ownership - beginning with the opening of the Metropolitan on January 9, 1863 to the formation of the London Passenger Transport Board in the 1930s. The competition between the lines sometimes went to absurd length, e.g. the dispute between the Metropolitan and District over a siding at South Kensington, as reported in the West London Advertiser:

"The District ... have run and engine and train into a siding and have actually chained it to the spot ... A day or two ago, the Metropolitan sent three engines to pull away the train and a tug of war ensued in which the chained train came off the victor ..."

As a Yank, I was impressed by the hitherto unknown (to me) fact of the enormous influence U.S. entrepreneurship and money had on the final form of the Underground as we know it today. (Bleedin' Americans, "overpaid, overfed, oversexed and over here.") Well, you must admit that America's contribution was more substantive and useful than McDonalds.

Having finished THE SUBTERRANEAN RAILWAY, I'm inspired to contemplate further excesses, such as to go back to London, Travelcard in hand, and ride each of the thirteen lines from one end to the other visiting all 268 stations. Ah, now that would be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure!
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Fascinating history of the London Underground 28 septembre 2010
Par M. A. Krul - Publié sur
Popular railway writer/journalist Christian Wolmar is known for his readable and intelligent books on the British railways and their history. In "The Subterranean Railway", he has applied his skills to writing a history of the London Underground, its construction, development, companies and politics. In the best traditions of popular history the book covers all the aspects of the tube's history, from the first suggestions for underground rail to the modern extensions. It covers the technical aspects of constructing the tunnels, the fares policies through the century, the sequence of the lines' development and their oddities, the competition between the individual underground railway lines in the early stages, the politics of public transport, and the individual Victorian and Edwardian entrepreneurs who determined much of the Underground's current structure and functioning. Wolmar even pays attention to the design aspects of the tube stations and Harry Beck's famous map, to the development of 'Metroland' around the Metropolitan Line in the northwest of London, and to the central role played by London Transport's recruitment in the Caribbean for drawing West Indian workers to London in the first mass immigration of that kind to Britain.

The book is well-written, balanced, informative and accessible. It does help to have a basic knowledge of London and the geographical layout already, given the proliferation of names and places in the book, although the modern tube map is helpfully provided with the illustrations. Wolmar's book shows some interesting aspects of the railways' development, in particular the decisive role played by the fact that until relatively quite late the different Underground lines were run by individual companies aiming to make a profit and competing with each other, rather than a planned urban public transport service as in most other cities with major underground railways. This role, as Wolmar has also showed for the mainline railways in Britain in his celebrated book on the topic (Fire and Steam: How the Railways Transformed Britain), has mainly been negative. Although the activities of the underground railways allowed the construction of major projects for public transport at a time when it would have been politically impossible for the state to do so, it led to a great number of inefficiencies as competing stations and whole lines were built close to each other, as tickets valid for one company were not accepted on the other (gravely limiting the usefulness of the entire system), as companies failed to expand useful lines for years on end for want of capital, and so forth. It is no coincidence that until the 1990s, every single developed country had amalgamated its mainline and underground railway lines each into a single public company, as competition in this branch is simply not productive from a public point of view - if anything, public transport by rail in countries where space is significantly limited is a rare obvious example of a natural monopoly, just like healthcare.

Also interesting is Wolmar's emphasis on the importance the American investors such as Yerkes played in consolidating the underground lines into a more coherent system akin to what we know now, as well as the major significance of the structure of the bus system for the functioning of the Underground - the bus lines for the longest times were the main competitor and tended to 'poach' the customers rather than providing connecting services, as is the aim now. Add to this various interesting anecdotes about the oddities of the tube - such as the bizarre side line to Mill Hill East on the Northern line or the two directly proximate stations in New Cross - as well as small histories of individual stations interspersed in the main narrative and Wolmar's clear passion for the Underground, and you have a readable and impressive book. Wolmar wants us to realize how amazing it is the Underground exists at all and functions as well as it does, and he succeeds in this purpose. A small note: since the book was written in 2004, it does not cover the Underground bombings of 2005, nor does it mention the newest expansions such as the East London expansion of the overground and the plans for Crossrail.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Who said you cant build a railway under a Victorian London? 8 septembre 2014
Par michael Jowett - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Who said you cant build a railway under a Victorian London?
English industrial revolution at its finest
Unknown technology, learn as you go, and innovation. The greatest challenge in London's history.
The British equivalent to the Transpacific railway in the States. Not as long granted but with an equivalent effect on the society of London and England as a whole.
How they did it and what it took to get here stands for all time.
Its worth the train fare for this one.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Subterranean Railways 17 mars 2013
Par Peter Hughes - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Yet another book By Christian Wolmar on the history of British railways, this time on the evolution of the 'Underground'.
It is another well researched and authoritative guide on British Rail transport. He leaves no stone unturned in his research of engineering and politics in the planning and development of what is today the first and one of the most complex underground rail systems in the world.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent Book 5 décembre 2012
Par Mark Larson - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
This is a hard to find book in bookstores - even in London. So it was great to find it online and get it painlessly!
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