Steam train travels on tube line to mark 150th anniversary of underground

Steam train travels on tube line to mark 150th anniversary of underground

As part of a programme of special events to mark the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, rail enthusiasts are being given the opportunity to travel along a section of the Hammersmith & City line in carriages pulled by a steam engine built in 1898.

The first London Underground railways operated on the Metropolitan Railway between Paddington and Farringdon. BBC News reports that ticket holders will travel along part of the original Metropolitan line, which has now become the Hammersmith & City line.

The oldest operational Tube carriage - the Metropolitan Railway Jubilee Carriage 353, built in 1892 - along with a set of four carriages known as the Chesham carriages, built in 1898, will be pulled by the Met Locomotive No 1.

The Daily Mail reports that a group of VIPS, including London Mayor Boris Johnson, were the first to make the three-and-a-half mile trip from Paddington Station to Farringdon Street this morning.

Although ticket holders can expect to travel at around 20mph, it was much slower when the line first opened in 1863 - when the trip could take around two-and-a-half hours.

Steam trains were replaced with electric carriages in 1905, and there have been none on the underground ever since - until now.

Click on the image below for ten ways to celebrate the Tube turning 150...

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Steam train travels on tube line to mark 150th anniversary of underground

Want to take the Tube but not sure where to go? How about arriving at Green Park station and indulging in London Underground-themed afternoon tea at The Park Lane Hotel? Until 19 February, the art deco hotel is hosting a special afternoon tea menu, which includes a Metropolitan 1863 cocktail, a selection of sandwiches designed to honour various stations, such as the London Bridge roll with egg, crème fraiche, sun-blushed tomatoes and rocket, and themed pastries featuring the London Underground logo, like 'Victoria' sponge cake and hazelnut Pound Cake representing Bank! £41 per person.

Whether you're a Londoner or just visiting the city, Insider London's London Underground and Tube Tour will take you through 150 years of history in two hours. Highlights include spotting the ghost station at the British Museum, discovering how the Victorians dug all those tunnels by hand and seeing the secrets of the Tube's architectural history. £20 per person.

Lovers of retro posters must visit the London Transport Museum's new exhibition Poster 150, which highlights the finest posters from the museum's archives, with 150 prints on display from 15 February. There will also be talks with authors, a quiz and a cocktail workshop. Plus an expert panel will discuss the stories behind the posters.

London's Brunel Museum commemorates the Thames Tunnel as the birthplace of the Tube system. The tunnel is also celebrating its birthday this year as it turns 170. Built by Marc Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel, it is the oldest tunnel in London. It was designed to carry cargo from one side of the river to the other, but this proved too expensive, so the tunnel opened as a tourist attraction in 1843. In 1869 the first passenger trains ran through it and it was later used as part of the East London Underground line before it became part of the London Overground. £3 for adults; free for under-16s.

From 8 to 12 April and 28 October to 1 November, the London Transport Museum is inviting you to go behind the scenes at its depot in Acton, with a whole host of events, including the chance to learn more about the restoration of the Met Railway Carriage No 353 with the Ffestiniog Railway and Met Loco No. 1, which will be on display, as well as photography and creative writing themed days.

If you can't get enough of Britain's railway history and want to explore the London Underground, Kent and Essex Railway, London's preserved railways and more, you'll want to book Ffestiniog Travel's ten-day Behind the Scenes in London & the South East break, which visits the region’s oldest and newest railways, dropping in on depots and uncovering hidden secrets of the capital’s transport system. Departing 25 April, the holiday costs £1,360 per person (based on two sharing) and includes standard class rail journeys, a seven-day Oyster Travelcard, nine nights’ B&B, excursions, some meals and an experienced tour leader.

It's not just London that has a brilliant underground history. If you're looking for something further afield, visit Chislehurst Caves in Kent, a labyrinth of man-made tunnels forming a maze and stretching over six hectares, 30 metres below the woodlands above. Originally dug from chalk used in lime burning and brick-making for London's buildings, the caves became an air raid shelter in World War 2, and today you can still see a hospital and chapel that remain in the site. £5 for adults; £3 for children.

Head for Manchester to attend steam school and learn how to ride and operate the world's first passenger train at the Museum of Science and Industry. Housed in the original buildings of Manchester's Liverpool Road station, which dates back to 1830 and was once used to transport goods between the port of Liverpool and the industrial power house of Manchester, it is now the oldest surviving passenger railway station in the world. The 4.5-hour Steam School experience takes place monthly and costs £250.

Ever wanted to see inside a sewer? In Brighton, the sewer tours give visitors a whole new perspective on the vibrant city. On the tour you'll discover clean spring water bubbling beneath your feet from a freshwater river that runs under the city, learn fascinating facts about landmarks above ground and find out why Brighton's beaches are cobbled not sandy. £12 per adult; £6 per child.

Ok, so it sounds like an obvious one, but how about using your Oyster card and taking the Tube to somewhere new and exciting you haven't visited before? We're not encouraging you to join the crowds at rush hour but when it's quieter you can discover plenty on the London Underground network. Be sure to take in the stations themselves, where there's art and interesting finds you won't want to miss. For example, at Gloucester Road there is a fabulous art installation on a disused platform, Southwark Station is architecturally stunning with its dazzling blue glass wall and look out for the blue police box outside Earl's Court (one for Doctor Who fans!). Visit 150greatthingsabouttheunderground.com for 150 amazing things to spot when travelling by Tube.

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