Oldest London Tube Reopened (City & South London) (1925)

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Electric Railway Journal · Vol. 65, No. 4 · January 24, 1925 · pp. 141-143.


Exterior of the Stockwell Station on the City & South London Railway. This Is One of the Reconstructed Stations.

Oldest London Tube Reopened [City & South London]. After Extensive Changes Taking Two Years, Including Enlargement of the Tunnel and Modernization of the Stations and Rolling Stock, the City Railway Has Inaugurated Through Service with Other London Underground Lines.

The City & South London Railway of London, England, which has been closed in parts for about 2 years during the work of enlarging its tubular tunnels, was reopened for traffic on Dec. 1, 1924, throughout its entire length of more than 7 miles. At the same time joint services were established with the Charing Cross & Hampstead Railway via the new junction between the two lines at Chalk Farm, through trains being run from the City & South London line to Highgate on one branch and to Hampstead and Edgware on the other.

The original section of the City & South London Railway, some 3 miles long, from King William Street in the City of London to Stockwell in South London, was the first underground electric railway in the world. It was opened for public service in December, 1890. Various extensions were made from time to time, both to the south and to the north, until the railway extended from Clapham to Euston, giving interchange stations with the main-line termini from the north. A further extension, some 5 miles long, from Clapham to Morden in Surrey, is now under construction.

Down to the time of the reconstruction now completed the tunnels were of only from 10 ft. to 10 ft. 6 in. diameter, with an 11-ft. 6-in. bore for a short distance. The cars accordingly were far from roomy, and they were hauled by small electric locomotives. Power was furnished by 500-volt, direct-current dynamos, and a third rail conductor was used. As the railway was extended, the three-wire system, and ultimately a five-wire system giving a pressure of 2,000 volts between the outers, was adopted for transmission to the most distant parts of the line. This involved the use of substations for stepping down the pressure.

In 1912 the railway was brought into the combine formed by the Underground Electric Railways Company of London, Ltd. This led to the abolition of the independent City & South London Railway power station at Stockwell, as thenceforward substations of the City & South London Railway were fed by the 11,000-volt, three-phase current from the larger power station built by the Underground company at Chelsea to supply all the associated electric railways in the group.

The management of the various railways then entered on a scheme for extending them in various directions and for linking them together. No through running, however, could be carried out in the case of the City & South London, as its tunnels were too small to admit of the standard size rolling stock used on the other tube railways. It was decided to enlarge the diameter of the City & South London tunnels to the size of 11 ft. 8-1/2 in. standard on the London Underground lines, and to make a junction with the Charing Cross & Hampstead Railway at Chalk Farm. This is the work which, after 2 years of construction, has now been completed. The electric locomotives have been abolished, the small old cars done away with, and new multiple-unit rolling stock similar to that on the other tube railways, which was described in this paper (issue of Sept. 20, 1924) substituted. The whole construction and equipment, including the passenger stations, have been modernized.

To enlarge the tunnels, the whole of the cast-iron lining segments were removed ring by ring, and as the tunnel was reamed out by the Greathead boring shield the lining was built up again, partly with new segments. On curves the tunnels have been enlarged to from 12 ft. to 15 ft. in diameter. The curves have been smoothed out and the general running conditions improved. The work was one of great difficulty, as during part of the period of reconstruction train services were continued in the daytime. Owing to the infiltration of water, work on some sections had to be carried on under compressed air.

Improvements have been carried out on many of the passenger stations, some of which have now their booking halls under the street level. Escalators in many cases supersede lifts, and everything has been brightened up. New track and new conductor rails have been installed, the running rails consisting of London standard 85-lb. per yard bull-headed section, laid on chairs bolted to wood sleepers. The positive and negative conductor rails are of special high-conductivity steel. The latest system of automatic signaling has been installed.

Train schedules have been speeded up and fares reduced, while through season ticket arrangements have been made with connecting railways and buses.

It was stated by Lord Ashfield, chairman of the London electric railway companies, at the opening ceremony on Dec. 1, that when extensions are completed the City & South London Railway will have the longest railway tunnel in the world, namely, 14 miles. He also mentioned that the various underground railway extensions with which his companies are associated will cost GBP 16,000,000.

The spaciousness of the new cars and their easy and comparatively noiseless riding qualities were commented on at the opening run. It is proposed to call the reconstructed line "The City Railway."

On the opening day, beginning at 12:30 p.m., the passengers carried totaled 95,000, including 15,000 who were provided with free tickets. The bulk of these free tickets were not presented until after 7 p.m. Their holders were then accompanied by their wives and families, all riding the entire length of the line and back. No fewer than 500 passengers purchased season tickets at Clapham Common or took away forms for that purpose.

On the second morning the travel was unprecedented. Dense traffic presented itself at Clapham Common, Stockwell and Elephant Stations. At 5:30 a queue of more than 200 passengers lined up at Clapham Common booking office. Additional booking clerks were at once rushed to the station, but even then the queues showed no signs of abating. Ultimately, a number of ticket collectors provided with tickets from the booking office paraded along the queues and did a roaring business. This stream of passengers two and three deep was maintained until after 9:30 a.m.

Sections of the Old and New Tunnels. The Original Tunnel Had a Diameter of 10 Ft. 6 In., While the Reconstructed Tunnel Has a Diameter of 11 Ft. 8-1/2 In.
Booking Hall and Escalator Hall on Street Level at Stockwell Station.The Tunnel During the Work of Enlargement. The Cast-Iron Segments Were Removed and the Tunneling Carried Out with the Greathead Shield System.
The Reconstructed Stockwell Station, Showing the Lifts Replaced With Escalators.The City Railway Is Shown on the Map In Its Relatlon to the Other Portions of the London Underground System.


Electric Railway Journal, McGraw Hill Company, Digitized by Microsoft, Americana Collection, archive.org.

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