New Tube roundel unveiled to celebrate 160 years of the London Underground

 (ES Composite)
(ES Composite)

A new Tube roundel was unveiled on Tuesday to mark the 160th anniversary of the London Underground.

The roundel, which reads “Love the Tube: 160 years of service”, was revealed by London mayor Sadiq Khan at Baker Streetstation – one of the original seven stations.

It will be added to at least one station on every Tube line and will remain on display for a year.

But the heart-shaped design was not universally popular, with comments on social media including: “It’s because I love the Tube that I don’t love this.”

The first line – what was then the Metropolitan railway – linked Paddington with Farringdon, transporting what newspaper reports at the time described as a “vast mass of active humanity” to the City in around 15 minutes, a huge saving on journeys that otherwise took 45-75 minutes.

London Underground through the years - In pictures

1968: A London Underground official drinking a cup of coffee during trials of new automatic trains on a section of the Central Line. The trains are intended for use on the newly opened Victoria underground line (Getty Images)
1968: A London Underground official drinking a cup of coffee during trials of new automatic trains on a section of the Central Line. The trains are intended for use on the newly opened Victoria underground line (Getty Images)
1862: Chancellor of the Exchequer William Ewart Gladstone with directors and engineers of the Metropolitan Railway Company on an inspection tour of the world's first underground line, 24th May 1862. Built between Paddington and the City of London, it opened in January of the following year. Gladstone is seen in the front row, near right. (Getty Images)
1862: Chancellor of the Exchequer William Ewart Gladstone with directors and engineers of the Metropolitan Railway Company on an inspection tour of the world's first underground line, 24th May 1862. Built between Paddington and the City of London, it opened in January of the following year. Gladstone is seen in the front row, near right. (Getty Images)
circa 1900: An early underground train on the Central London Railway, opened in 1900, which eventually became the Central Line. This engine could be driven in both directions (Getty Images)
circa 1900: An early underground train on the Central London Railway, opened in 1900, which eventually became the Central Line. This engine could be driven in both directions (Getty Images)
1907: Golders Green station under construction in north London.  The station, completed the following June, was originally on the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway, which is now part of London Underground's Northern Line (Getty Images)
1907: Golders Green station under construction in north London. The station, completed the following June, was originally on the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway, which is now part of London Underground's Northern Line (Getty Images)
circa 1911: The interior of a District Line Underground carriage (Getty Images)
circa 1911: The interior of a District Line Underground carriage (Getty Images)
1912: The platform of the Central London Railway extension at Liverpool Street Station (Getty Images)
1912: The platform of the Central London Railway extension at Liverpool Street Station (Getty Images)
circa 1912: Workmen removing a concrete wall during construction of the Central line extension to Bank, on London's Underground Rail network (Getty Images)
circa 1912: Workmen removing a concrete wall during construction of the Central line extension to Bank, on London's Underground Rail network (Getty Images)
1912: The ticket hall of Liverpool Street station, London (Getty Images)
1912: The ticket hall of Liverpool Street station, London (Getty Images)
circa 1920: The interior of an all-steel London underground train (Getty Images)
circa 1920: The interior of an all-steel London underground train (Getty Images)
1922: A London Underground train being decorated with foliage for Christmas (Getty Images)
1922: A London Underground train being decorated with foliage for Christmas (Getty Images)
1922: A man writing on a complaints poster on the London Underground (Getty Images)
1922: A man writing on a complaints poster on the London Underground (Getty Images)

It opened to about 700 VIPs on Friday January 10, 1863, with the public admitted the following day, when up to 40,000 people attempted to travel on the world’s first underground railway.

By 8am on January 11 it was clear that demand by far exceeded capacity, and stations “became crowded with anxious passengers”, comparable “to the crush at the doors of a theatre on the first night of a pantomime”.

The opening of the Tube had been delayed by many months due to construction problems – primarily the bursting of the Fleet Ditch, part of the underground Fleet river.

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On Tuesday Mr Khan met four Tube staff whose length of service totalled 160 years as he announced programme of activities throughout the year to mark the anniversary.

This will include a free treasure hunt on January 21 along the seven original stations – Paddington (Bishop’s Road), Edgware Road, Baker Street, Portland Road (now Great Portland Street), Gower Street (now Euston Square), King’s Cross (now King’s Cross St Pancras) and Farringdon Street (now Farringdon).

The anniversary roundel will also be installed at other stations including Gloucester Road, Brixton, Oxford Circus and Covent Garden.

It was a markedly more low-key event than 10 years ago, when the Queen and the then Duchess of Cambridge visited Baker Street - and Kate, who was five months pregnant, received a “baby on board” badge.

 (Handout)
(Handout)

Mr Khan said: “The Tube is a true London icon. I’m so proud of the history of our Tube and I’m determined that the London Underground will continue to deliver a world-leading service fit for the 21st century.”

Asked for his childhood memories of using the Tube, he recalled the Northern line being known as the “Misery line”.

He would take the 44 bus - the route driven by his late father - to Tooting Broadway station. “You would come into town on the Underground,” he said. “The Underground was so exciting.

“I remember meeting mates outside the Chelsea Girl shop in Tooting Broadway. You would come out at Oxford Circus. You discover parts of London you didn’t know about. I didn’t know east London very well. I didn’t know north London very well. It was a great way to get about our city.

“That first train was run by steam. We have now got 272 stations, 11 lines and we have gone from strength to strength. Last year we opened a different sort of line, the Elizabeth line. We can’t stand still. The history of the Underground is that you have got to plan for the future.”

Sam Mullins, director of the London Transport Museum, said London had been “more profoundly” shaped by the Tube than any other world city had by a metro system.

“You have only got to look at the Tube map, a roundel, a tiled station platform - you know exactly where you are. It’s hard-wired into London’s personality,” he said.

“I think there are two key periods [in the Underground’s history]. It always surprises me how advanced the system was before the First World War.

“This was the era of ladies in big dresses and gents in top hats, yet we had five lines in a Tube network, through ticketing, there was an Underground map of sorts, there was the Underground brand, there were illustrated posters that encouraged you to use the Tube off-peak. Many of those things you think are probably of a generation later were in place.

“Then the Twenties and Thirties sees the growths of the suburbs, created by the extension of the Northern and Piccadilly lines, where the Tube was leading the charge. It created Hampstead as a Tube suburb to come into on, for example.

“It’s also a period when that design heritage is baked into the Tube’s identity - when Frank Pick was the managing director of London Transport and he commissioned great architects and designers. He was creating a vision of civilising the city.”

Andy Lord, London’s transport commissioner, said the Tube had expanded to meet the needs of the city.

He said the anniversary “gives us the opportunity to look forward to the next raft of improvements and to continue planning to ensure that the Tube serves our city ably and efficiently for the next 160 years”.

Forthcoming upgrades include new Piccadilly line trains, new signalling on the District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines and the completion of the Bank station expansion.

Details of the treasure hunt are at tfl.gov.uk/Tube160