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A Year: Day to Day Men: 10th of January, Solar Year 2018

A Bed of Green

January 10, 1863 marked the beginning of the London Underground when the Metropolitan Railway, the world’s oldest underground railway, opened its route between Paddington and Farringdon.

The Metropolitan Railway was a goods and passenger railway that served London from 1863 to !933. Its main line headed northwest from the financial heart of the city to what became the Middlesex suburbs. The first section built was beneath New Road between Paddington and King’s Cross and then in tunnel and cuttings besides Farringdon Road to Smithfield, near the city. It opened on January 10 with gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives. It is the world’s first passenger carrying underground railway.

The line was extended from both ends, eventually extending to Verney Junction in Buckinghamshire, more than 80 kilometers from the Baker Street station to the center of London. In 1905, electric traction was introduced and by 1907 electrical multiple units operated most of the services. The Metropolitan developed land near the rail lines, promoting after World War I housing estates using the “Metro-land” brand. In July of 1933, the Met was merged with other railways, tram lines, and bus services to form the London Passenger Transport Board. After the amalgamation in 1933 the “Metro-land” brand was discontinued.

The spirit of “Metro-land” was remembered in a television documentary “Metro-land”, first broadcast on February 26, 1973. A comedy-drama film, starring Christian Bale and Emily Watson, called “Metroland” was released in 1997. That film explored the tension between the youthful idealism of a hedonistic existence and that of the inevitable middle-class establishment. The film title referred to the London suburbs which were served by the expansive London Underground network, an environment that the lead characters had always promised themselves they would escape.

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