Central London Railway

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Map with main route and extensions

The Central London Railway (CLR), also known as the Twopenny Tube because of its standard fare , was a predecessor of today's London Underground , the underground railway of the British capital, London . Its predominantly underground route through the West End and the City of London now forms the central section of the Central Line .

The railway company was founded in 1889, but it was not until six years later that a syndicate of investors secured the financing of the line construction. Construction on the first section began in 1896 and lasted until 1900. When it opened, the CLR served 13 stations and ran completely underground for a distance of 9.14 kilometers between Shepherd's Bush in the west and the Bank of England in the east. The depot and power station were located near the western terminus. After the failure of a project to expand the line to a ring line, the line was extended westward to Wood Lane in 1908 and eastward to Liverpool Street Station in 1912 . In 1920, a further extension followed using tracks of the Great Western Railway from Wood Lane to Ealing , so that the line had a total length of 17.57 kilometers.

In the beginning, the CLR generated considerable profits for its investors, but growing competition from other private underground trains and motorized buses led to falling passenger numbers. In 1913, the company was taken over by the Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL) holding company , which at the time operated a large part of the London Underground. In 1933 the CLR and the UERL passed into public ownership.

Planning (1889-1892)

Rejected project from 1889

In November 1889 the newly formed CLR published a notice in the London Gazette that it would submit a private initiative to the British Parliament in its next session (by law, Parliament had to approve all privately funded rail projects). An electrically operated railway line was planned from the junction of Queen's Road (now Queensway) and Bayswater Road in the Bayswater district to King William Street in the City of London , including a connection to the City and South London Railway (C & SLR), which was then under construction Arthur Street West. The CLR was to run in two single-lane tubes under Bayswater Road, Oxford Street , New Oxford Street, High Holborn, Holborn Viaduct, Newgate Street , Cheapside and Poultry. Nine stations were planned (Queen's Road, Stanhope Terrace, Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Southampton Row, Holborn Circus, St. Martin's le Grand and King William Street).

The tunnel tubes were to be 11 feet (3.35 meters) in diameter , drilled with shield jacking and supported with cast iron tubbing . In the stations, the diameter should be 22 or 29 feet (6.71 or 8.84 meters) depending on the floor plan. A depot and power station were also planned to be built on 1.5 acres (0.61 hectares) on the west side of Queen's Road. Each station should be equipped with hydraulic elevators from the surface down to the platforms.

The Metropolitan Railway (MR) and the Metropolitan District Railway (MDR) made strong opposition to the planned route . Both companies wanted to prevent new competition, as they would withdraw passenger traffic from the partly parallel inner ring railway (Inner Circle, today Circle Line ). The Corporation of London also rejected the project. She feared settlement damage to buildings along the route, as had already occurred during the construction of the C & SLR. The Dean and Chapter of St Paul's Cathedral were concerned about the potential risk of undermining the cathedral's foundation. Joseph Bazalgette , chief engineer of the Metropolitan Board of Works , said the tunnels would damage the city's sewer system . The project received the approval of the House of Commons , but was rejected by the House of Lords , which recommended that any decision be suspended until after the opening of the C & SLR in order to assess its operation.

Approved route from 1891

In November 1890, shortly before the C & SLR began operating, the CLR announced a new initiative for the 1891 parliamentary session. The line was to run beyond the west end to Shepherd's Bush Green, while the depot and power station were to be built north of the new terminus on Wood Lane. At the beginning of 1890, the London Central Subway had been proposed. This sub- paved railway never got beyond the rough planning stage, so the CLR included the route in its own considerations. The eastern terminus was no longer King William Street, but the nearby Cornhill, the planned Southampton Row station was replaced by one in Bloomsbury . Further intermediate stops were to be created on Lansdowne Road, Notting Hill Gate, Davies Street and Chancery Lane. The CLR abandoned its earlier plans to connect the route to the C&SLR and increased the diameter of the tunnel tubes to 11 feet and 6 inches (3.51 meters). This time both chambers of parliament approved the initiative; it came into force on August 5, 1891 as the Central London Railway Act 1891 . The CLR published another initiative in November 1891. The eastern end of the line should now be located under Liverpool Street station on the Great Eastern Railway (GER). The previously planned Cornhill terminus was abandoned, instead a stopover near the Royal Exchange was planned. The proposals came into force on June 28, 1892 as the Central London Railway Act 1892 .

Approved route from 1892

A syndicate of investors provided the necessary funds. These included Ernest Cassel , Darius Ogden Mills and members of the Rothschild family. On March 22, 1894, the syndicate hired Electric Traction Company Limited (ETCL) to carry out the construction work. The ETCL reckoned with construction costs of 2,544,000 pounds (equivalent to about 244 million euros in 2011), were added bonds in the amount of 700,000 pounds at an interest rate of 4%. When the Syndicate put up for sale 285,000 shares of CLR at £ 10 each in June 1895, it was only able to sell 14% of that as the UK public became cautious after the failure of similar rail projects. Some stocks could be sold in Europe and the United States, but the vast majority had to be bought by the syndicate members and the ETCL themselves.

Construction work (1896-1900)

The CLR hired engineers James Henry Greathead , John Fowler and Benjamin Baker to plan the railway line . Greathead had been an engineer on the Tower Subway and the C & SLR, and had also developed the shield tunneling that had been used to build the tunnels of both companies under the Thames . Fowler had been an engineer on the Metropolitan Railway, opened in 1863, the world's first underground railway. Baker had been involved in the construction of the New York elevated railways and with Fowler in the construction of the Forth Bridge . Greathead died shortly after construction began. In his place came Basil Mott , his assistant in the construction of the C & SLR.

Oxford Circus , an example of the design of the CLR stations by Harry Bell Measures

Like most laws of this type, the 1891 Act included time limits for the expropriation of land and capital raising (the time limits ensured that unused permits expired quickly and thus did not block future projects unnecessarily long). Completion was originally planned for the end of 1896, but the raising of capital and the acquisition of the land for the stations were delayed so much that construction work had not even started at the beginning of this year. To buy more time, the CLR asked for an extension to 1899, which Parliament granted with the Central London Railway Act 1894 . The ETCL divided the route into three sections : from Shepherd's Bush to Marble Arch, from Marble Arch to St. Martin's le Grand and from St. Martin's le Grand to Bank. Construction began in April 1896 with the demolition of buildings on Chancery Lane. In August and September 1896, shafts were excavated at Chancery Lane, Shepherd's Bush, Stanhope Terrace and Bloomsbury.

Negotiations with GER about the establishment of a construction site under Liverpool Street Station were unsuccessful. For this reason, only a small part of the last section northeast of Bank was carried out so that sidings could later be laid there. To reduce the risk of subsidence, the tunnels exactly followed the course of the road on the surface and avoided crossing under buildings. Traditionally, the tunnels were drilled side by side to a depth of 60 to 110 feet (18 to 34 meters). Where the streets were too narrow for that, the tubes were arranged one above the other. For this reason, the Chancery Lane and St. Paul's stations have platforms on two levels. To make it easier to slow down arriving trains and accelerate departing trains, the stations were built so that the adjacent tunnel sections were slightly inclined.

At the end of 1898, the tunneling work was completed. Since the cast iron tubbings were not clad with concrete as originally planned, the pipe diameter increased to 11 feet and 8¼ inches (3.56 meters). The CLR was negotiating with the Corporation of London to build the banking hall at the intersection of Threadneedle Street and Cornhill. This complex project required the erection of a steel framework under the surface and the laying of existing lines and cables in new tubes below the pedestrian underpasses between the ticket hall and the exits. Delays in this work proved so costly that they almost led to the company's bankruptcy. The CLR was granted a further extension of the deadline by one year with the Central London Act 1899 .

CLR poster highlighting ease of use of the railroad (1905)

With the exception of the Bank Station, which is completely underground, all stations have access buildings designed by Harry Bell Measures . They each had one story to allow a later addition for commercial use and were clad with beige-colored terracotta bricks. Each station was equipped with elevators from the Sprague Electric Company in New York. They were supplied in different sizes and configurations to suit the passenger flow in each station. Usually two or three elevator cars were arranged in a common shaft. The tunnel walls in the station area were decorated with simple white ceramic tiles, electric arc lamps provided the lighting. A power station on Wood Lane produced 5000 volts alternating current . Several substations along the route converted this into 550 volts direct current , and the trains were driven by a conductor rail .


The Prince of Wales officially opened the CLR on June 27, 1900, the day before the Central London Act 1899 expired . Regular operation did not begin until July 30th. The CLR served the following stations: Shepherd's Bush , Holland Park , Notting Hill Gate , Queen's Road (now Queensway), Lancaster Gate , Marble Arch , Bond Street (from September 24, 1900), Oxford Circus , Tottenham Court Road , British Museum (1933 closed), Chancery Lane , Post Office (now St. Paul's) and Bank .

The CLR charged a standard fare of two pence for a journey between any two stations, whereupon the Daily Mail in August 1900 gave the railway the nickname Twopenny Tube . The new transport offer enjoyed great popularity; By the end of 1900, 14,916,922 passengers were carried. The CLR attracted numerous passengers of the horse-drawn buses along its route, as well as of the slower steam-powered MR and MDR trains, so that the number of passengers settled at around 45 million annually in the first few years. Income was double what it was spending, and from 1900 to 1905 the company paid its investors a dividend of 4%.

Rolling stock

CLR locomotive from 1900
CLR railcar from 1903

Greathead had originally planned to have the trains pulled by a pair of small electric locomotives , one at the end of each train. But the Board of Trade rejected this proposal and a larger locomotive was designed that could pull up to seven cars. The American General Electric Company , whose director was Syndicate member Darius Ogden Mills, built 28 locomotives. The individual parts were delivered from the port of London by barge on the Thames to Chelsea and from there to the Wood Lane depot, where they were assembled. One of the barges sank en route, but the cargo could be recovered and used. The British companies Ashbury Railway Carriage and Iron Company and Brush Electrical Engineering Company made 168 cars. Passengers boarded and exited the trains through folding lattice doors at the ends of a car. The grids were operated by guards who drove along on the outer platforms. The CLR originally planned two car classes , but abandoned this project before the opening, even though the interior fittings of the cars were of different quality for this purpose.

Soon after the railway opened, residents of the buildings along the route began to complain about vibrations from moving trains. The reason for the vibrations was the 44.7 tonne, mostly unsprung locomotives. The Board of Trade set up a commission to address the problem, and the CLR experimented with two approaches. She first modified three locomotives by installing lighter engines and improved suspension. As a result, the weight was reduced to 31.5 tonnes, and the vibrations could be additionally dampened through better suspension. The second solution was to equip the end cars in two six-car trains with a driver's cab and an engine so that they could run as railcars without an additional locomotive . The lighter locomotives actually reduced the vibrations noticeable on the surface, but with the railcars they almost completely disappeared, so the CLR decided on this solution. As a result of the Commission's report, the CLR acquired 64 railcars in order to put them together with the existing rolling stock to form six or seven-car trains. The transition to railcar operation was completed in June 1903. The locomotives were scrapped, except for two that were used for shunting tasks in the depot.


Reversible loops not carried out (1901)

Rejected 1901 project

The CLR's ability to handle its high passenger numbers was limited, as it could barely shorten the intervals between trains. The reason was that the locomotive had to be uncoupled at the end stations and shunted to the opposite end of the train before a train could start its return journey. Such a maneuver took at least two and a half minutes. To remedy this problem, the CLR published another legislative initiative for the 1901 parliamentary session in November 1900. With this, the CLR asked for permission to build turning loops at both ends of the route so that time-consuming maneuvering could be omitted. The turning loop at the western end of the route should run counterclockwise under the three sides of Shepherd's Bush Green. There were two variants for the eastern end of the route: a turning loop under Liverpool Street Station or a larger turning loop under Threadneedle Street, Old Broad Street, Liverpool Street, Bishopsgate and back to Threadneedle Street. The estimated cost of the turning loops was £ 800,000, with most of it going to the east end with its costly rights of way.

In addition to the CLR initiative, seven other subway projects were up for parliamentary deliberation (none of which was ultimately implemented). In order to examine the initiatives on an equal footing, both chambers of parliament set up a joint commission chaired by Lord Windsor . But when the commission presented its report, the parliamentary session was almost over and the promoters were asked to resubmit their initiatives with a view to the next parliamentary session in 1902. The recommendations of the commission included the rejection of the east turning loop of the CLR. It also concluded that London commuters would benefit from a direct tube route between Hammersmith and the City of London.

Failed ring line project (1902-05)

Rejected 1902 project

Instead of resubmitting its 1901 initiative, the CLR presented a much more ambitious alternative for the 1902 session. She proposed to expand the entire line by building a southern route between the existing terminus to form a ring line, thus meeting the Commission's request for a direct route Hammersmith – City. At the western end, new tunnels were to be drilled from the siding of Shepherd's Bush Station and the depot access tunnel. You should go under Shepherd's Bush Green, follow Goldhawk Road, and then turn south. At the junction of Hammersmith Grove and Brook Green Road (now Shepherd's Bush Road), a new station should provide transfer options to the existing stations of the MR, the MDR and the London and South Western Railway .

From Hammersmith, the CLR route should run east and intersect with MDR routes at Addison Road (now Kensington Olympia) and High Street Kensington . From there, the route would follow the south edge of Kensington Gardens , with stops at Royal Albert Hall and at the junction of Knightsbridge and Sloane Street, where the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (B & PCR; a predecessor of the Piccadilly Line ) already had one Possessed building permit. It would then have run parallel to the planned B&PCR route as far as Leicester Square and swiveled there to the southeast to Charing Cross station . Via Fleet Street and Ludgate Circus (transfer to the South Eastern and Chatham Railway at Ludgate Hill station ), the route would have continued to MDR Mansion House station and eventually reached Bank station on a lower level. The last section was based on the plans of the previous year, a large turning loop with the intermediate stations St Mary Ax and Liverpool Street back to the upper level of the station Bank. The depot was to be expanded to accommodate the additionally required rolling stock, and an increase in the output of the power plant was also planned. The CLR estimated the cost to be £ 3,781,000, of which £ 2,110,000 was construction work, £ 873,000 land acquisition and £ 798,000 trains and electrical systems.

In addition to the CLR initiative, the Windsor Commission examined several others for the Hammersmith – City corridor (a second commission, chaired by Lord Ribblesdale, was responsible for examining north-south routes). The CLR initiative enjoyed the support of the railway companies whose stations were to be connected, as well as the C & SLR, the London County Council and the Corporation of London. The Metropolitan Railway resisted the project because it did not want any further competition to its inner ring line. Members of parliament feared for the security of the vaults of the banks in the city because of the tunnel construction, they saw a further risk factor in the undercutting of church foundations. The Windsor Commission rejected the section between Shepherd's Bush and Bank, preferring a competing route of the JP Morgan- supported Piccadilly, City and North East London Railway . The CLR then withdrew the plan for the reversing loop in the City, so that the Central London Railway Act 1902, adopted on July 31, 1902, only included a few improvements to the existing line.

In late 1902, the PC & NELR consortium broke up and the most important part of their planned route came under the control of the rival Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL), which removed the project from the parliamentary process. The CLR took the opportunity and resubmitted its own initiative for 1903. The deliberations on this were delayed again as Parliament set up a commission to coordinate the various projects and to strive for a uniform transport planning for all of London. While the Commission was at work, all work on new underground lines and extensions was postponed, so the CLR eventually withdrew its initiative. She presented her ring line initiative a second time for the parliamentary session in 1905, but withdrew it again. In October 1905 it had reached an agreement with the UERL that neither company would submit an initiative for an east-west route in 1906. The plan was dropped completely when the new multiple units allowed the CLR to reduce the interval to two minutes. This eliminated the need for reversible loops or even an expensive ring line.

Extension to Wood Lane (1906–1908)

Approved route from 1907

In 1905 the British government announced plans to hold an international exhibition to celebrate the Entente cordiale between France and Great Britain , signed in 1904 . The exhibition area planned for the Franco-British Exhibition in the White City district was opposite the CLR depot on Wood Lane. The CLR did not want to miss the opportunity to promote the exhibition visitors and announced a new initiative in November 1906. A large turning loop was planned from Shepherd's Bush station around the depot, where the new Wood Lane station was to be built near the entrance to the exhibition . Parliament approved the project on July 26, 1907 with the Central London Railway Act 1907 .

The new turning loop resulted from the construction of a tunnel section that connected the siding west of Shepherd's Bush station with the north side of the depot. From Shepherd's Bush, the trains ran counterclockwise over the single-track turning loop, first through the original depot access tunnel, then along the north side of the depot and over the new station and finally through the new section of the tunnel back to Shepherd's Bush. Changes were also made to the track layout in the depot in order to create space for the new station and enable regular operation. Construction work began in January 1907, the exhibition and the new station opened on May 14, 1908. The new station building was above ground between the two tunnel portals and was designed by Harry Bell Measures in a simple design. There were two curved platforms; Passengers exited the trains on one side and entered them on the other.

Extension to Liverpool Street Station (1908-1912)

Approved project from 1909

After the extension to Wood Lane went into operation, the CLR reverted to its previous plan to connect Liverpool Street Station. This time the Great Eastern Railway allowed the CLR to build a subway station under the station building - provided that no further areas in the north and northeast would be developed from there, because the subway should not be used by the GER suburban railways compete. The CLR published an initiative for the 1909 parliamentary session in November 1908; as the Central London Railway Act 1909 , it came into force on August 16, 1909. Construction began in July 1910 and the new Liverpool Street station opened on July 28, 1912. After its successful launch at MDR's Earl's Court station, this station was the first underground station to be equipped with escalators . Two led to Liverpool Street Station and two to the adjacent Broad Street Station on the North London Railway .

Extension to Ealing Broadway (1911-1920)

Next, the CLR planned an extension westwards towards Ealing . In 1905 the Great Western Railway (GWR) had received parliamentary approval to build the Ealing and Shepherd's Bush Railway (E & SBR), which was to connect the GWR main line at Ealing Broadway with the West London Railway (WLR) north of Shepherd's Bush. From Ealing, the route should lead northeast through still largely rural area, then run eastwards on a short length parallel to the High Wycombe route of the GWR and then turn southeast. It should then run on a causeway along the Old Oak Common and Wormwood Scrubs green spaces and eventually meet the WLR a short distance from the CLR depot.

Approved project from 1911

Construction did not begin immediately, and in 1911 the CLR and GWR agreed on a right to use the route for CLR trains to Ealing Broadway. In order to connect to the E & SBR, the CLR requested permission to build a short extension from Wood Lane. Parliament granted this on August 18, 1911 with the Central London Railway Act 1911 . The GWR built the new E & SBR line and opened it on April 16, 1917, initially only for steam-powered freight traffic. The electrification of the line was delayed until after the end of the First World War. The underground service could not begin until August 3, 1920, with East Acton as the only stopover.

Wood Lane station was modified and expanded to connect to the extension to the E & SBR. The existing platforms on the Wendeschleife kept the CLR and used them for trains that did not travel the entire route. On a lower level, two new platforms for trains to and from Ealing Broadway were built, the tracks connected to both sides of the turning loop. Ealing Broadway station received additional CLR platforms between the existing GWR and MDR platforms.

The CLR ordered 24 additional railcars from Brush to operate the 6.97 kilometer extension. When they were delivered in 1917, the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway (now Bakerloo Line ) loaned them temporarily to use them on their extension to Watford Junction . The new wagons were the first for tube railways that were completely enclosed, with no barred platforms at the rear end. They were fitted with folding doors to speed up the flow of passengers. In addition, the CLR converted 48 existing cars so that twelve six-car trains could be formed with 72 cars. These modifications meant that the new wagons were not compatible with the older rolling stock from 1903 and could therefore not be used together.

No extension to Richmond (1913 and 1920)

Approved project from 1913
Approved project from 1920

In November 1912, the CLR announced plans to extend Shepherd's Bush in a southwesterly direction. A tunnel to Chiswick was planned , which would lead to shortly before Gunnersbury station of the London and South Western Railway (L & SWR). From there, the CLR should run on the L & SWR route to Richmond , which was then shared by the MDR and had been electrified by the latter in 1905. Six underground intermediate stations were planned between Shepherd's Bush and Gunnersbury. The CLR recognized the possibility of shared use of the L & SWR route beyond Richmond to Twickenham , Sunbury-on-Thames and Shepperton , although electrification was necessary for this. With the Central London Railway Act 1913 passed on August 15, 1913 , the CLR received the necessary parliamentary approval, but the outbreak of the First World War prevented construction from starting and the approval period expired unused.

Another initiative published the CLR in November 1919. They took up the extension to Richmond again, but suggested a different route, which required a much shorter tunnel. The line was to lead south from Shepherd's Bush and, after exiting the tunnel, meet disused L & SWR tracks north of the Hammersmith Grove Road station, which was closed in 1916. From there, the disused L & SWR tracks used the same route westwards as the MDR tracks via Turnham Green and Gunnersbury to Richmond. The plan required the electrification of the tracks and provided for the shared use of the existing MDR stations, while costly tunnel construction was only necessary on a short section. Parliament approved the Central London and Metropolitan District Railway Companies (Works) Act on August 4, 1920 , although the CLR made no move to carry out any work. The L & SWR tracks between Ravenscourt Park and Turnham Green were finally used in 1932 for the extension of the Piccadilly Line west of Hammersmith.

Cooperation, consolidation and sale (1906–1913)

Six years after it opened, the CLR saw a significant drop in passenger numbers. The reason for this was the increased competition from MDR and MR, which had electrified the inner ring line in 1905, and from the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (GNP & BR), which opened a line to Hammersmith the following year. In addition, there was the fact that motorized omnibuses in large numbers began to replace the slower horse-drawn buses on the streets. In 1906 the CLR carried 43,057,997 passengers, in 1907 this number fell by 14 percent to 36,907,491. Although the Franco-British Exhibition in 1908 provided a temporary recovery, the number of passengers then fell again and in 1912 was also around 36 million. In order to keep their income roughly the same, the company increased the standard tariff for longer journeys to three pence in July 1907 and reduced the tariff for short journeys to one penny in March 1909. Multi-trip tickets were now available at a discount, having previously been sold at face value. In July 1911, annual subscriptions were also introduced.

The CLR strived to save costs through the use of technical innovations. The introduction of dead man's devices and travel locks in 1909 meant that train drivers no longer needed an assistant who had to pay attention to safety. The automation of the signals made it possible to close several signal boxes and reduce the number of signal box personnel. From 1911 the CLR operated a parcel service and converted four railcars so that they contained a small compartment for sorting the parcels. These were received at the stations and delivered to their destination by messenger boys on tricycles. The parcel service made a small profit, but had to be discontinued during the war in 1917 due to a lack of labor.

The problem of falling revenues was not limited to the CLR; all London Underground companies were affected. The reduced earnings due to fewer passengers made it difficult for the companies to repay borrowed capital or to pay dividends to shareholders. The dividend of the CLR was 3 percent from 1905, that of the UERL was only 0.75%. From 1907 onwards, CLR, UERL, C & SLR and Great Northern and City Railway began making fare agreements. From 1908 they jointly marketed themselves as underground . After secret takeover negotiations, the UERL announced in November 1912 that it would take over the CLR by swapping shares. The takeover took place on January 1, 1913, but the CLR remained legally independent from the other UERL underground lines.

Improvements and Integration (1920-1933)

Central London Railway
Extension of the route in 1933
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Ealing Broadway 1920
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West Acton 1923
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North Acton 1923
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East Acton 1923
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Wood Lane 1908
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Shepherd's Bush 1900
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Holland Park 1900
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Notting Hill Gate 1900
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Queen's Road 1900
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Lancaster Gate 1900
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Marble Arch 1900
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Bond Street 1900
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Oxford Circus 1900
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Tottenham Court Road 1900
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British Museum 1900
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Holborn (under construction)
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Chancery Lane 1900
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Post office 1900
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Bank 1900
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Liverpool Street 1912

After the takeover, the UERL took measures to coordinate the operation of the CLR with its other routes. In March 1928, it shut down the CLR power station , and from then on the Lots Road Power Station in Chelsea provided electricity . More frequented stations were modernized and equipped with escalators: 1924 Bank and Shepherd's Bush, 1925 Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road, 1926 Bond Street. The latter also received a new entrance area designed by Charles Holden . In the early 1930s, Chancery Lane and Marble Arch were also remodeled to accommodate escalators.

On November 5, 1923, the new stations North Acton and West Acton were opened on the extension to Ealing . They were built to develop newly developed residential and industrial areas. Like the existing East Acton station, these were simply designed systems with wooden shelters on the platforms. Soon after the opening of the GNP & BR in 1906, the CLR saw the unfavorable location of the British Museum station and the lack of connection to the nearby GNP & BR Holborn station as a problem. A pedestrian tunnel between the two stations was proposed in 1907, but never built. In November 1913, the CLR proposed in a legislative initiative to close the British Museum station and replace them with new platforms under those of the GNP & BR in the Holborn station. Parliament gave its approval, but the First World War prevented any construction work. It was not until 1930 that the UERL took up the project again. The new platforms were opened together with a new ticket hall and escalators to both lines on September 25, 1933, the day before a train stopped regularly at the British Museum station.

Between March 1926 and September 1928, the CLR converted the last cars with lattice doors. She had new sliding doors fitted on both sides and enclose the end platforms. The modifications increased capacity and enabled the CLR to do without door guards. The door control was now the responsibility of the two remaining guards, who each monitored half of the train. Finally, the use of radio technology made it possible to save the second guard, so that only the driver and one guard were present on a train. However, the additional doors on the side were not compatible with Wood Lane station, where the length of the inner platform at the turning loop was restricted by an adjacent siding to the depot. The problem could be solved with a swiveling platform part, which was usually above the siding, but could be moved if necessary to allow access to the depot.

Transfer to public ownership (1923–1933)

Despite closer cooperation and improvements to the CLR stations and other parts of the subway network, the private companies continued to struggle with financial difficulties. Since the UERL had owned the highly profitable London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) since 1912 , it was able to cross-subsidize the operation of the less profitable underground railways with the profits of the bus company, which had almost a monopoly. Due to the competition from numerous small bus companies at the beginning of the 1920s, LGOC's profits fell, which had a negative effect on the profitability of the entire UERL holding.

The chairman of the UERL, Lord Ashfield , tried to convince the government to regulate local public transport in the London area. From 1923 onwards, several corresponding bills were drawn up. The main actors in the debate about the degree of regulation were Lord Ashfield and Herbert Stanley Morrison , Labor MPs for London County Council and later Secretary of State. Ashfield sought to protect the UERL from competition and control the London County Council's tram network. Morrison, on the other hand, wanted to place the entire transport system under state control. After numerous unsuccessful attempts, at the end of 1930 a template was introduced which provided for the creation of the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB). This public service company was supposed to take control of the UERL, the Metropolitan Railway and all bus and tram lines in an area called the London Transport Passenger Area (roughly equivalent to today's Greater London with smaller adjacent areas). The LPTB was a compromise - public ownership, but not complete nationalization - and began operating on July 1, 1933. On this day the CLR and all other subway companies were handed over to the LPTB.

On paper, the CLR continued to exist as a sort of catch-up company for the few shares in the new LPTB that could not be remitted to previous shareholders and to pay the interest on a loan taken out in 1912 with the financial institution Glyn, Mills & Co. The liquidation finally took place on March 10, 1939.

→ For the history of the line after 1933, see Central Line


  • Antony Badsey-Ellis: London's Lost Tube Schemes . Capital Transport, London 2005, ISBN 1-85414-293-3 .
  • J. Graeme Bruce, Desmond F. Croome: The Central Line . Capital Transport, London 1996, ISBN 1-85414-297-6 .
  • JE Connor: London's Disused Underground Stations . Capital Transport, London 1999, ISBN 1-85414-250-X .
  • Douglas Rose: The London Underground, A Diagramatic History . Capital Transport, London 1999, ISBN 1-85414-219-4 .
  • John R. Day, John Reed: The Story of London's Underground . Capital Transport, London 2008, ISBN 1-85414-316-6 .
  • Christian Wolmar : The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground Was Built and How It Changed the City Forever . Atlantic Books, London 2005, ISBN 1-84354-023-1 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Route length calculated according to information on Clive's Underground Line Guides, Central line, Layout
  2. London Gazette . No. 25996, HMSO, London, November 26, 1889, pp. 6640-6642 ( PDF , accessed October 1, 2013, English).
  3. ^ Badsey-Ellis: London's Lost Tube Schemes. P. 43.
  4. ^ Badsey-Ellis: London's Lost Tube Schemes. P. 44.
  5. ^ Badsey-Ellis: London's Lost Tube Schemes. Pp. 44-45.
  6. London Gazette . No. 26109, HMSO, London, November 25, 1890, pp. 6570–6572 ( PDF , accessed October 1, 2013, English).
  7. ^ A b Badsey-Ellis: London's Lost Tube Schemes. P. 47.
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This article was added to the list of articles worth reading on June 13, 2011 in this version .