Central London Railway 120th anniversary

Central London Railway 120th anniversary

The Central Line’s 120th anniversary! Originally known as the Central London Railway (or more popularly as it was known, the Twopenny Tube) the system was officially opened on 27th June 1900 by the Prince of Wales. Public services began on the 30th July 1900 between Shepherd’s Bush and Bank. These were entirely underground. The open air section of line to Wood Lane was merely access for trains to/from the depot however that soon changed when it was given over to public use.

The inspection conducted by the Prince of Wales for the official opening included a ride along the full extent of the route, taking in the new Bank terminus and to Wood Lane where a tour of the new power station was undertaken.

Normally I would write a comprehensive feature for such an occasion as this – but instead decided upon what is mostly a picture gallery – even though I began this post at the end of 2019! Enjoy!

There’s no pictorial record of the CLR official opening except this which isn’t even a photograph! Its from the makers who supplied the six horizontal cross compound engines for the CLR’s power station at Wood Lane.

The makers were Edward P. Allis Company – based in Milwaukee, US. Clearly the engines for the power station came from the US and this shows another aspect of the early American influence in London’s underground railways. Ironically it wasn’t Charles Tyson Yerkes who procured this particular aspect of the Central London railway’s development!

Tyson, a railway magnate, was based in Chicago at the time and he may have had dealings with the Allis company – its possible he learnt of the export of these turbines – thus sailed over to the UK in August 1900 to see what the new underground railways in London were all about, before setting up his new company Underground Electric Railways Ltd.

Original CLR locomotive no.24 at Wood Lane. Source: Standard

Central London Railway train and locomotive at Shepherd’s Bush at what is the current westbound platform. The locomotive is about to run round its train as a red lamp’s been put on the rear coach. Source: Wikipedia

CLR locomotive at Shepherd’s Bush (current eastbound platform) running round its train in 1903. A rare picture for it shows one of the early Underground signal boxes. Source: Pinterest

The CLR’s locomotives didn’t last very long. They were heavy and damaged the track and caused complaints in terms of noise and vibration felt in the streets above. Ironically the CLR had two steam locomotives and these lasted longer in use within the tunnels, being used for works trains (even on the Liverpool Street extension) when the power needed to be off.

There’s a pictures of one of these steam locomotives in Central Line beyond Caxton Road #2

One of the smart new motor coaches at Wood Lane 1903. Note the company’s large power station in the background. Source: Grace’s

Bond Street opened somewhat late due to numerous difficulties building it. The date it opened was 24 Sept 1900 and its said the construction difficulties was because the River Tyburn was wreaking untold revenge on the new tube line! The river had to be diverted away from the station area in order to prevent the huge flooding that was encountered. Source: Twitter

Early 1900s advert for the Twopenny Tube! Source: Reddit

Map of the Bank station’s subways and lifts from 1902. Author’s Collection.

Bank station early days. Nowadays its completely different. The lifts were removed in the 1930s. Source: Flashbak

Holland Park station in the early days. Source: Twitter

Notting Hill Gate in the early days. Source: Library Time Machine

Classic Central London Railway poster advertising it as the Twopenny Tube. Lovely images! Source: Pinterest

The CLR was soon extended to Wood Lane for the British Empire Exhibition at White City. Source: Time Out

One of the Wood Lane tiled roundels was saved and this can be seen at the new Wood Lane station nearby.

Great CLR poster mirroring itself and the company’s other classic posters/maps on the tunnel wall! Source: Pinterest

Building the extension to Liverpool Street. Probably 1911. Source: Standard

Central London Railway’s proposed subways and entrances at Liverpool Street for its new station. 1911. Source: Twitter

The new booking hall at Liverpool Street in 1912. Source: Standard

The new Liverpool Street extension in 1912. Source: Standard

As I have written elsewhere, it seems the Central London Railway was the earliest user of what become known as ‘coffee pot signals.’ That is due to the above picture being the earliest representation of this type of signal seen on the tube.

Central London Railway map 1912 with projected extension to Ealing. Source: Twitter

The above map is a little confusing. The Bakerloo is shown as it was in 1906, which suggests the Ealing extension was mooted at the time – in fact it was planned as early as 1905. Nevertheless the Euston extension of the City & South London is too shown and this opened in 1907! Yet the CLR’s new route to Liverpool Street is shown as completed – meaning the map must have been published in 1912 – which it was.

Another aspect of this map is it shows North Acton as the intermediate station en route to Ealing Broadway. It was in fact East Acton that opened in August 1920. North Acton followed a few years later.

Until 1915 the CLR had its own parcels service! Source: LT Museum Blog

The CLR even had smart station staff on bikes to deliver parcels locally! Source: LT Museum Blog

As noted earlier the extension to Ealing Broadway opened in August 1920. For that to happen a new alignment had to be built from Wood Lane to facilitate trains onto the Great Western’s line about a mile to the north.

The new railway was called the Ealing and Shepherd’s Bush railway – not because it connected to the Central London’s route at Wood Lane, but because it connected to the West London Line at Shepherd’s Bush!

The new Wood Lane station 1920s built for the extension to Ealing Broadway. Source: Pinterest

CLR stock at Wood Lane depot. Xmas 1922. Source: Standard

The centre rail system survived the Central London itself and the changes to the depots around Wood Lane and White City! Even when the system was changed to the fourth rail system, the LPTB built White City depot continued to make good use of former Central London Railway conductor rail and examples of this survived until the depot’s closure in 2007 when at least four roads in the depot still sported original CLR conductor rail!

New Oxford Circus opened in 1925. The lifts were replaced by escalators & better connections between Central London and Bakerloo railways. Source: Pinterest

The former British Museum station. The building no longer exists. Source: Twitter

The Central London’s station at British Museum was closed in 1933 and a replacement built at Holborn for easy interchange with the Piccadilly Line. Nevertheless in the ensuing period after closure, Emil Hoppé, a famous photographer did this photograph at the former station of a many looking at an advert – and which I think is one of the best tube photographs ever. I wrote about this in 2013 and again in 2022.

Hoppé’s photograph taken at the closed British Museum station in 1937. Source: Twitter

Renaming Post Office station to St Paul’s. Probably one of the last acts as the Central London Railway 1937. Source: Standard

The CLR’s Tottenham Court Road in the 1950s. The original station was demolished for Crossrail. Source: Twitter

The through platforms for the Ealing extension – closed when nearby White City came into use. Source: Pinterest

White City station, opened 1947, was never part of the Central London Railway. The CLR became the Central London Line in 1933, and the Central Line in 1937. White City was built under the owning authority of the time – the London Passenger Transport Board.

The worst calamity ever to strike the line. Disaster struck Bank Station in 1941. Even though it had not long had its lifts replaced by escalators and the whole ticket hall improved, the station received a direct hit from enemy bombs, killing even people in the station tunnels deep below. As a result the entire ticket hall, escalator shafts and platform areas had to be rebuilt. Source: Reddit

The memorial at Bank Station to the 1941 victims.

The present ticket hall – on the eve of the line’s 120th anniversary! There’s considerable upgrading works underway here and elsewhere in the station in connection with the new Bank interchange facility being built just to the south.