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A video with the familiar sights and sounds of a journey on the London Underground.  This ride takes you from St James’s Park to Victoria on a District Line train.

There are many sounds you could remember from using the Underground.  Who can forget the infamous “Mind the Gap?”  There is also the announcement declaring the next stop, which in this case is Victoria Station.  There is also a whizzing sound when the train gains speed after leaving a platform or the screeching metal on metal sound when trains negotiate a curve.  On the sounds of travel page, you can listen and download the sound of the London Underground.

Years ago I rode the London Underground exclusively for anywhere I’d go in the city, yet when I hit the pavement above ground, I couldn’t navigate without a map.  I’d be on the streets clueless about direction.  The Underground might be convenient, except it doesn’t teach you London’s Point A to Point B to Point C.

When I began my London photography book project in earnest, there was no choice but to walk above ground.  Only then did I put London’s boroughs into directional perspective.  Moving around by foot made perfect sense and I learned how one area connected to another.  I may not know the street names because I navigate by landmarks.

Today, I can walk around the city with ease and – AND – take the shortcuts when necessary.  The map is now etched in my mind.  I know London better than most Londoners.  It really is liberating to know London.  As much fun as riding a tube train might be, try to limit your use of it and see if you, too, can learn to explore London by foot.

Funny how a ride on the London Underground led me to this post.  I appreciate the engineering marvel deep below London, but it doesn’t help when you really want to know how to get around.

Included below are images are taken from inside a London Underground train (old and new)  ::

 

 

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While taking a break from creating photos for my London photography book, I took time to ride various London Underground lines from end to end. The lines I chose include the Northern Line, Bakerloo Line, Jubilee Line, part of the Circle/District Line and a portion of the Victoria Line.

I’d start at the beginning of a line then at each stop I’d get out at each stop to explore the station. At first, I thought what an exhausting task, On a train, off the train, on the train, etc… By the end of the project, I grew to love every minute. Each Underground station is unique in its own way. There is intricate tile work arranged in interesting designs at almost all stations. The arrangement of the subway tiles cleverly leads the way for commuters – traffic control if you will.

Many of the Underground stations in Central London are works of art. I especially love Tottenham Court Road station, the blue and white checked tunnel at Green Park station, as well as the whimsical green and red lines at Piccadilly Circus. Outside of Zone 1, the designs at Hampstead Station on the Northern Line are mesmerizing. I always feel as if I’m on a roller coaster when I’m in the tunnels of Hampstead. The swooping lines on the ceramic tiles underground are brilliant.

During my photographic adventures in the London Underground, I received police citations for pointing my camera at an Underground station entrance and was escorted out of the largest station by the manager. If you are going to get kicked out of somewhere, it is best to have it done by the one at the top. If you scroll down just a bit, you’ll see one of the police citations I received.

During off-peak hours, there is plenty of time to explore and time to appreciate the brilliant designs. Photography is not encouraged but the London Underground really is a photographer’s playground. Be discrete, avoid rush hour and don’t linger in one place for too long and you should be perfectly unbothered. What’s more is you’ll have splendid photos when you are finished.

I’m not a huge fan of public transportation, especially during rush hour, but I do recommend a journey through the London Underground at least once (or twice). The underbelly of London is fascinating, to say the least. It is almost as if there is an entirely different world or London, many escalators rides below the surface.

Destination: London

Catch the London Underground in Sixty Seconds on The Gentleman Wayfarer YouTube Channel or this fast-paced Underground blog post.

Temple Station on the District/Circle Line is one of my favourite Underground Stations.  I feel as if it’s 1899 all over again when the train stops. The station exterior hasn’t changed save for today’s dress and advertisements.  It is also quite possible the news stall outside the entrance has passed generationally since the late 1800’s.  I wouldn’t doubt this ponder of an idea and I’d love it even more if the idea were true.

What’s more, I can hop off a train, sit on a bench on the platform and take in the station if I’m so inclined.  I’ve done this and I always see unique elements in the design of the station I wouldn’t see by simply passing through.  The ornate iron posts stand along the shiny concrete platform and are painted with soft creme paint and accented with a deep maroon hue.

The station is not often used during off-peak travel times making public transportation almost delightful.  In fact, I’m often the only soul on the platform when I alight from the train.  Rarely is there a piece of rubbish anywhere to be seen as if no one at all had been in the station before me.  Could it be a ghost station? 

No, during working hours, and especially during rush hour, Temple station bustles with people like any other Central London Underground Station.

Everyone says I should think and act with disdain toward the District/Circle Line because chronic signal failures make the train schedule unreliable.  Since I don’t seem to experience the issues I hear about, the Circle/District Line remains the route I choose when using the London Underground.  The line is easy and especially convenient with Victoria Station being my home base.  In the video, you’ll see how I entertain myself when I pop off a Tube train and sit on a bench before the next train arrives to take me away.

Love it, or loathe it, the London Underground is an engineering marvel.  For the most part, the system works efficiently.  Given that the London Underground is the oldest in the world it really is brilliant.  How will it cope with the continued population growth, who knows?

What are your experiences on the Underground?

Destination:  London

Station to station, platform to platform.  The Northern Line, Jubilee Line, District, and Bakerloo Lines on the London Underground condensed into sixty seconds in this fast-paced video…

What’s interesting are the deliberate lines within the designs of each station that lead commuters in the right direction.  Left, right, forward, don’t cross the line and mind the gap.  Stand on the left unless you’re at Holborn, never jump the queue except when rushing the train before passengers alight.  Herd-like sheep during rush hour, then stand nose to nose, eye to eye as the train burrows itself to the next platform.  Only six more stops to go.  A mad dash through a labyrinth of tunnels to escalator maintenance.  The London Underground is an engineering marvel with organised madness.

Engineering works, signal failures, strikes because no one can agree who opens the doors.  We release a huge sigh of relief departing a station only to return for a repeat the very next day.  We love to hate it.  We hate to love it.  Ultimately, the London Underground takes us where we want to go.

Many Underground stations are also a work of art.  The patterned and coloured tiles create interesting designs down below.  Baker Street features Sherlock Holmes.  Tottenham Court Road featured wild mosaics until a recent refurbishment.  One of my favourite stations is Hampstead where the design is simple, yet the large swirls and lines make you feel as if you’re on a roller coaster.   Piccadilly Circus reminds me of – well, a circus and Green Park has a great tunnel if you love vanishing points.

For many years I thought about going station to station and getting off the subway train at every stop.  My initial thought was to exit the station to see what was above ground.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to see various London neighbourhoods from one end of an Underground line to another?  I have never ticked this idea off of my things to do in London list, though one day I shall.  What I did do, and is very evident in the London Underground video, I departed the train at each station.  I would then explore the platforms, the ways to exit the stations and the stations themselves.

The project took weeks to complete.  I avoided rush hour by riding the train during the week and mostly at night.  Often times I was the only one in a station so there were no issues being in the way of commuters.  The Underground staff didn’t bother me for the most part, though you know I was captured via CCTV everywhere I went.  Security was probably thinking – “there’s that guy again!”  It was only in larger stations, such as Waterloo, where the station manager hunted me down and called the police.  Thank goodness when I calmly volunteered to leave the station, nothing came of the drama.  Do be aware if you decide to take photos of any London Underground Station as you may run into a grumpy station manager like I did.

Is the London Underground an easy way to travel London?  The answer is yes.  London’s subway system is easy to navigate even for a beginner.  If you really want to learn London, however, I suggest walking and getting lost on the streets.

It’s not easy to be a gentleman on the London Underground during rush hour.  A true test for a well-mannered gentleman.

The video runs rather fast, so included below are a few of my favourite London Underground photos ::

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Life in London is fast-paced. You can blink and miss seeing about ten things that just happened. Seriously, this is true.

As I was once told by a shopkeeper in Soho, everyone in London is tired. It’s no wonder because the day ends before you know it begins. Take a wild journey tho’ London with this fun video which shows various areas of London. The video includes St Paul’s Cathedral, numerous London Underground platforms with subway trains in motion, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Oxford Circus, busy Oxford Street, Westminster Abbey, Battersea Power Station, Chelsea Bridge and so much more. All of the sights are packed into a one minute video.

It is no secret I am easily entertained. It is also no secret I am fascinated with London at night. Marry the two and you’ll find me stuck in the middle of the road capturing London light streams and everything in motion. It all began when I learned photography and my penchant for photographing light streams (lights from cars as they drive by) never diminished. Thanks, Rupert Truman for teaching this little trick to me.

From Piccadilly Circus to St Paul’s Cathedral, Haymarket Street and onto Trafalgar Square, then Battersea Power Station. You’ll find everything moves fast in the city. The video also takes you to London Underground then back up to Oxford Street.

No wonder everyone in London is tired, but can you really be tired of London?

I will be offering a London in Motion photography workshop soon. If you are interested, please sign up for my mailing list and I’ll notify you of dates and pricing.

Included below are a few London light stream photos ::

Love and Loathe – two words that come to mind when I think of Victoria Station. Rush hour, I loathe. I’m also not fond of the construction mess around the station. Everything is torn up and it seems the construction is a perpetual project weaving the old with the new.

I do love everything else including rush hour when I’m perched high above the fray inside the train station. There is an elevated area where I’ll retreat to and just watch. It’s amazing to watch the commuters zig, then zag, on the station floor. How does no one run into the other, I wonder? Victoria is also what you could call my home station as it is a hop, skip and a jump from home. The station is convenient.

Victoria Station has a great history. For me, it’s like stepping off the wild streets of London and into another world. The ticket windows and shops are modern, but when I look up, I’m taken back a hundred years.

Once you walk toward the Circle/District part of the Underground station, the feeling of being in a time warp amplifies. The ceilings are low; the lighting is dimmer and space is far too small to accommodate the myriad of commuters using the station. Strangely, I love the scruffy ambience despite not having an affinity for crowds. Once you’re down below on the Victoria Station platform, the conditions don’t improve. The platform is not nearly large enough. My best suggestion is to “move along the platform” to the far end where few people go. I do have to admit avoiding rush hour, so the experience isn’t so bad.

Unlike other Londoners, the District/Circle Line is my favourite. Apparently, these underground lines are slow and unreliable. Why do I love this particular line the most? Timeliness is far from the reason to be passionate about this Underground line. I’m never in a rush to go anywhere, so I’m perfectly fine if a train runs late. I don’t wear a watch. How would I ever know if a train runs behind schedule? The nostalgia of days gone by is the reason the District/Circle Line receives top billing from me. Each station along the line is an eclectic mix of nostalgic London with a few attempts to cosmetically mask the flaws. The stations tend to be older and have more London character. This ambience of “Old London” is what keeps me in love with her.

During winter, and when it snows, you can see the snowflakes descend on the track from the opening up above. For some reason this fascinates me, tho’ it is safe to say I’m easily entertained. In the video, you’ll see a train approaching on the District/Circle Line at Victoria Station in London. If you look close enough, you can see the snowfall. I especially love the brick arch above the train tunnel.

If you are fascinated with the London Underground you might also like Journey Through The London Underground.

Destination: London