The eastward expansion of the Tube's tentacles

The eastward expansion of the Tube's tentacles

Central Line Tube trains at Leyton

A Tube train at Walthamstow Central on the opening day of the Victoria Line in 1968.

A drawing of the construction of the first London Underground tunnel, near King's Cross, from 1861.

A Tube map from 1926. East London would not appear on the map of routes until several decades later.

First published in Waltham Forest East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

The Tube is 150 years old this month. But, as reporter DANIEL BINNS discovered, it took many more years after the 1860s for its tentacles to reach east London and Essex.


The first stretch of the Tube, between Paddington and Farringdon, opened in January 1863.


Despite initial doubts and scepticism, the world-first grand experiment soon proved incredibly popular with the public, and it was not long until the service expanded.


But the wait for a Tube train in places like Waltham Forest and Redbridge was not exactly speedy.

After much wrangling over the route and funding, the Central Line finally opened in 1900 - and even then it only ran between Bank and Shepherd's Bush.


The following decades saw creeping extensions to the route as demand increased.

As the line spread further it gained and lost stops, including the long-since closed  Wood Lane and British Museum stations.


Commuters 'out east' were given hope of easier travel when the ambitious New Works Programme began on the line in 1935.


However delays caused by the outbreak of World War Two meant none of the new stations properly opened until the late 1940s.


But, with a need for shelter from the Blitz, plenty of use for the stations and tunnels was soon found, even if there were no trains running.


Most notably, the 2.5 mile stretch between Leytonstone and Gants Hill was used as a giant underground factory making aircraft parts for three years during the conflict.


After the war work continued to extend the line, although much of the track from Woodford onwards was adapted from pre-existing overground railway services.


In 1957 electric trains finally began running between Epping and Ongar – replacing the old steam shuttle service – although dwindling passenger numbers led to the section's closure in 1994.


Nonetheles, today the Central Line still holds the distinction of being the longest on the Underground network, stretching 46 miles and serving 49 stations.


In contrast, the Victoria Line, linking Walthamstow with Brixton in the south, runs a relatively modest 13 miles.


First proposed in the 1940s, the line was designed to help alleviate congestion in central London.


Initial proposals included terminating the line at Wood Street in Walthamstow, and even establishing a link with South Woodford, although these ideas were later abandoned.


But construction work did not begin until 1962, mainly due to delays in securing funding.

The first section of the line between Walthamstow and Highbury and Islington opened in 1968, with the rest of the line was completed in stages up to 1971.


Today the Tube is more popular than ever, with an estimated 1,107 million people using it last year alone.

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