We spend countless hours on the London Underground, hopping from tube to tube, switching lines, and minding the gap. Do you ever stop to observe the finer details of some of the system’s 270 stations?
When away at university, the thing I miss most about London is the tube. More than once, it has made me horrendously late, shoved me between smudgy newspapers, buckets of sweat, and suspicious smells but believe me, I‘ll keep coming back for more.
The only other underground systems I’ve experienced have been the S-Bahn in Austria and Germany so I do not claim to know the ins and outs of all underground stations in the world. However, I think I have a pretty strong case in arguing that London’s tube stations are some of the world’s most mesmerising! Each and every station is unique, and I’m not just talking about the name.
A tube station in London can usually be recognised by its interior design. For example, the famous mural mosaic by Eduardo Paolozzi splashed through Tottenham Court Road.
Annabel Grey’s panel designs at Marble Arch.
Holborn is easily recognised by the British Museum artefacts dotted along the panelling.
The panels of Charing Cross are painted with David Gentleman’s mural of the construction of the original Charing Cross.
Another thing I love about the tube stations of London are their long, straight, sometimes spiral corridors and staircases. Bank station can easily be identified by its curved platform (anyone who has fallen through the huge gap at Bank can vouch for how significant the curve is!) as well as the long, twisting walk underground to Monument.
Why not avoid the queues at the escalator and try the stairs? It’s a long way up/down the spiral, but it certainly looks nifty, if a little grimy.
There’s also plenty of art to see whilst you’re down there. Look out for the Art on the Underground posters, or the poems, which are always lovely.
The tube stations are a special, unique part of London. They are only there to aid the purpose of getting from A to B, but they don’t just look like bricks and slabs of cement. Each station is brimming with character and life. Some of the designs are more elaborate than others, but let’s face it, they’re our stations and we (I) love them. It may be that half your journey is just a few shade changes in the tiles and the glorious smell of Mile End station. So be it, it’s still a unique piece in the puzzle of this magnificent city.