This sturdy book has all the zone 1 London Underground stations listed alphabetically with 2-3 pages for each station and glorious colour photos.
It's not all about the transport system though; it is an exploration of the streets around each of the stations. It's not a cafes and hotels listing either but a history snapshot of what of note has happened in each area.
Each listing includes the tube lines served by that station, something about the station and its design, and possible former or considered names. I had no idea there had been so many name changes!
The more I read the more I appreciated the excellent research and quirky facts about each station and surrounding area, especially the origins of place names and common sayings, such as 'spend a penny', plus the unusual tales from history.
There's plenty of cross-referencing as many stations are close to each other and some attractions are near more than one station such as the Museum of London.
And London and English language geeks will appreciate the vowel/consonant facts about some station names.
Tube London is sized somewhere between handbag-size and coffee table (23 x 19.2 x 2.2cm) but will make an excellent addition to any home library of London books.
Things I Learned From Tube London
I learned a lot from this book and was surprised to discover how many locations are connected with the Bethlehem Royal Hospital. 'Bedlam' moved to Moorfields in 1675 from its original location near Liverpool Street station. In 1815 it moved to Southwark, to the site now occupied by the Imperial War Museum. The hospital still exists, now in the south London suburbs, and is recognized as the world's first and oldest institution to specialize in mental illnesses. It owns a lease on Piccadilly and is therefore the landlord of Fortnum & Mason.
I didn't know the Sherlock Holmes exhibition at the Sherlock Holmes pub had been displayed at the Festival of Britain in 1951 by the Abbey National Bank who had offices at 221 Baker Street for many years. The entire collection was bought by the pub's brewery, Whitbread, in 1957 to create a themed pub.
I knew there were tunnels across central London but didn't know there are tunnels, previously used by the Secret Intelligence Service, up for sale near to the British Museum.
2004 archaeological excavations at the London Transport Museum found a cemetery of the middle Saxon town of Lundenwic's dating the settlement to 100 years earlier than previously thought.
I knew Charles Dickens worked in a boot polish factory when he was 12 years old but I didn't know that factory was on the site of Embankment tube station.
I didn't know the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology has the world's oldest dress, nor that the only statue of Henry VIII in London is at Bart's Hospital in Smithfield.
The books includes a wonderful connection to a royal gardener, pineapples and curiosities that established the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
I read about the creation of London's first public park as the 'Moor Fields' were reclaimed land from drained moors in the 16th and 17th centuries and with some tree planting became a public park. And the origins of the famous bowler hat are included in the book too.
I had no idea The Eagle Pub was mentioned in the nursery rhyme Pop! Goes the Weasel, nor that BT Tower - and other tall buildings - can contract 23cm in winter.Tube London is full quirky finds. Did you know, Paddington Basin, where you can see the Rolling Bridge on Fridays, holds the equivalent of 250,000 bathtubs of water? I didn't!
The Jelly Babies sculptures, by Italian artist Mauro Perucchetti, have now gone from Marble Arch but a great photo is included in the book.
There are a few typos in the book but nothing that detracted for me from the enjoyment of reading and discovering through Tube London. The research is second to none and Rebecca Sams will be a London author to look out for from now on.
If you enjoy this book, you may well also like London Underground by David Long.