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Amazing and Extraordinary London Underground Facts [Hardcover]

Stephen Halliday
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Oct 2009
This is a fascinating and useful reference to the history of the London Underground that reveals new insights into the history of the iconic transport system. Over one billion journeys are made on the London Underground each year, and the network has become one of the city’s most famous features. From the traditional roundel logo and iconic tube map, to the familiar call of ‘mind the gap’, the tube has developed a culture of its own through its long and often turbulent history.

Inside Amazing & Extraordinary London Underground Facts:
The Pioneers – this chapter covers some of the pioneering spirits behind the early ideas for solving London’s traffic problems, before the Underground, from the failures of George Shillibeer’s Omnibus to Captain Bailey’s Hackney Coaches.
The Lines – full of interesting facts about each line of the London Underground, including information about the pioneers involved in working on each line.
Financing the Underground – without the sometimes unconventional activities of financiers like Charles Yerkes, Sir Edgar Speyer and Whitaker Wright the early network would never have been built. This section fills you with facts about how it financially came together.
Underground Management – from the mid-1970s the financial problems of the London Underground made its management easy prey for politicians and journalists. This section looks at the key figures who successfully and unsuccessfully managed the Underground.
Trains and Tunnels – learn about the first steam locomotives from when the Metropolitan Railway opened in 1863, the advanced tunneling technology of the late nineteenth century, and the early electric railway.
The Underground at War – the tunnels of the Underground network played a vital role in providing shelter for the hundreds of thousands of Londoners seeking safety from bombing raids.
Underground Art, Architecture, Poetry and Maths – the Underground made (and continues to make) an important contribution to many aspects of British life. From Harry Beck’s iconic map to Wordsworth and Betjeman’s poetry on the Underground.
Metroland and its Family – from the spectacular failure of the Watkin Tower to the peaceful Kingsbury Garden Village, find out about all of the Metroland architects and architecture.
Accidents and Tragedies – the underground has accommodated fictional murders and the grimmer kind, as well as being the scene of terrible tragedy. Discover the fascinating facts behind wartime tragedies right up to modern day terrorism.
Underground Curiosities – ghost stations, myths and legends of the Underground.

Amazing & Extraordinary London Underground Facts tells this incredible story of grand and impractical visions, colourful characters and shady dealers, political wranglings and financial disasters. It glories in groundbreaking engineering and architecture, innovative art and inspired marketing. Full of fun trivia and fascinating facts, this is a book for anyone who’s ever travelled on the tube – commuters, tourists and Londoners alike.

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Frequently Bought Together

Amazing and Extraordinary London Underground Facts + What's in a Name?: Origins of Station Names on the London Underground + Do Not Alight Here: Walking London's Lost Underground and Railway Stations
Price For All Three: 18.89

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: David & Charles (30 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0715332775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715332771
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 18 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 224,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


Prefixed 'Amazing and Extraordinary' this fun-packed and well-designed publication certainly lives up to the title. --Rail Express Magazine

"…a fascinating and useful reference work" --Civil Service Pensioner's Alliance

"…entertaining and informative book." --Practical Family History

A fascinating pocket book which will tell you all you need to know about London Underground, and even more that you don't need to know but will find equally as fascinating Hours of fun to pass the time for the commuter! --Heritage Railway

"…entertaining and informative book." --Practical Family History

A fascinating pocket book which will tell you all you need to know about London Underground, and even more that you don't need to know but will find equally as fascinating Hours of fun to pass the time for the commuter! --Heritage Railway

"…entertaining and informative book." --Practical Family History

A fascinating pocket book which will tell you all you need to know about London Underground, and even more that you don't need to know but will find equally as fascinating Hours of fun to pass the time for the commuter! --Heritage Railway

"…entertaining and informative book." --Practical Family History

About the Author

Stephen Halliday is an authority on the history of London, with a special interest in the great engineering works that created the modern city. He is the author of The Great Stink: Sir Joseph Bazalgette and the Cleansing of the Victorian Metropolis (Sutton 1999) and Underground to Everywhere; London's Underground Railway in the Life of the Captial (Sutton 2001). He contributes articles and reviews to magazines such as Literary Review, Times Higher Education, BBC History and History Today.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A potted history of the London Underground 29 July 2011
By Peter Durward Harris #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I previously purchased the same author's Water: A Turbulent History, and was pleased to find one of the same author's books available through Amazon Vine(tm). However, unlike that earlier book, this one only gives a very basic history of the subject. I knew that when I chose the book, but even so I feel that it could have been better.

It works as a basic facts book for people wanting to get a sense of the history of the system, but no more than that. Its small size makes it handy for reading on trains, even those underground trains that were the book's inspiration, though of course you would have difficulty reading it during the rush hour with everybody fighting for space.

There are some amusing stories about smells and mosquitoes, while the tragedies at Moorgate and King's Cross are both covered, though not in any depth. There are pieces about the men who financed and/or managed the system in its early days, though these stories are of necessity incomplete.

A good book in many ways, it is nevertheless something of a tease. I am sure that the author could do better if he were to write a proper in-depth book. But wait - Christian Wolmar has already written that book The Subterranean Railway : How the London Underground Was Built and How It Changed the City Forever so we don't need another such book, at least not yet. If you really want to learn about the history of the London underground, that's the book to go for.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Style but no substance 24 Nov 2009
By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
London Underground Facts is a bit like an Underground Schott's Miscelleny - a book designed to be sold at Christmas as a gift for people who don't read books. It looks good - a beautiful red white and blue art deco dust jacket; small; thick paper. The format is magaziney - text boxes, lists, bullet points, random quotes, pictures and heaps of white space for resting the eyes. The content has nothing new, it is simply culled from the many existing Underground reference books and presented in a much abbreviated form. Although there is an index setting out different sections, there is no logic to the sections. Why would Wartime Underground precede Metroland? Why would Poetry On the Underground come between them both? And even within sections, we find a blurb about Public Private Partnerships immediately before a potted biography of Herbert Morrison (Transport Minister in 1929).

The book is short, too. 143 pages - 6 of which are an index and the text actually starts on page 6, so that makes 132 pages of actual text. Throw in several pages that are little more than route maps for each line (badly drawn by freehand with spelling mistakes - Surrey Keys, Edgeware Road...), the same five drawings repeated over and over again, and a couple of blank pages... You get the idea: it's thin.

However, I guess the target market is people who are stuck for gift ideas, and it won't actually offend anyone. Indeed, I can imagine that in the right setting - perhaps in a small room where one tends to be alone, looking for amusement in small, 2 minute chunks then this fits the bill. Just like Schott's Miscelleny; Crap Towns; The Little Book Of Calvin and all its illustrious forerunners.

Judging it for what it aspires to be, 3 stars seems fair. Had it had a point or a structure - or anything new to say - it would have deserved more. But as it doesn't really offend, it probably doesn't deserve less.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A pocket introduction to Underground history 4 Jan 2010
This small book has an assortment of interesting facts scattered through the pages, but also much white space and several instances of repetition. I think skimpy is an appropriate word here.

I felt the drawings were decidedly amateurish, and almost might have been sketches intended for a proper artist to clean up and present properly. The break-out boxes were largely wasted, and the thumbnail pictures were repeated far too often - better used just the once.

It feels rushed and cheap. It could have been so much more. There are several sources of accurate and fascinating information which could have been plundered to make this more worth the read and less of a half-hearted effort.

A much better book for fascinating history of the tube is J E Connor's London's Disused Underground Stations and Stephen Halliday himself has produced a more comprehensive work in Underground to Everywhere: London's Underground Railway in the Life of the Capital.

But perhaps the most interesting place to find history of the London Underground is the web site underground-history, maintained by Hywel Williams, which is crammed full of photos and relevant information.

I am interested in the Tube, and use it frequently, but I am not an 'Enthusiast' merely another Londoner. Even so, I felt short changed by this brief book. So only three stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A very interesting book of fascinating information about the London Underground.
The only pity is that it is quite short.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointing 9 Sep 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When a book includes the words 'amazing' and 'extraordinary' in its title, it's setting a pretty high bar for itself, and unfortunately, this book failed to live up to my expectations. After flicking through the book in the shop, I got the impression that it was a collection of London underground factoids, covering things like the never-quite-functional spiral escalator at Holloway Road, and, as an underground and trivia junkie, I was eager to pick up a copy.

Sadly, the reality was more than a bit disappointing. Instead of packing a punch with interesting bits of trivia, the book tries to set out a more complete history of the Underground- which would be fine if it had the space to do so! As it stands, the book is far too short to do more than scratch the surface, and as the writing style is quite dry and unengaging, it doesn't make for that enjoyable a read. To add insult to injury, much space is wasted with wobbly, unprofessional-looking sketches of the various underground lines, whilst 'Underground' and 'Way Out' signs are liberally and repetitively sprinkled throughout.

There are some interesting factoids to be found in the book's many side boxes, but overall these are a bit hit-and-miss, with one 'Did You Know?' box ironically echoing information the reader will have just read in the main text! The book also makes a mistake in saying that Covent Garden and Leicester square are the two closest Underground stations - Embankment and Charing Cross are closer!

Although not outright bad, this book was a little underwhelming and disappointing. Underground fanatics should probably check out something like London's Disused Underground Stations.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book
Brilliant read. Lots of little underground facts. The chapter about the war was fascinating! Certainly added to my tube knowledge
Published 2 months ago by Mrs. S. E. Chowdhury
5.0 out of 5 stars Gr8 reading
good book to read as plenty figures and facts n pictures worth reading it. good for people who loves tubes.
Published 5 months ago by J.N
5.0 out of 5 stars London Underground
A truly fascinating and enjoyable book. Well written and obviously well researched. Essential reading for anyone interested in the London Underground.
Published 6 months ago by C. F. Reedman
4.0 out of 5 stars Good present
Bought as a present for friend who has been travelling the tube system a lot recently. Full of interesting facts and well laid out.
Published 8 months ago by G.Samuel
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
A fascinating book full of interesting facts of particular interest to commuters especially. It was well wrapped and arrived quickly and in perfect condition.
Published 15 months ago by syates
5.0 out of 5 stars Fact-Off Winner
This is a beauty book. It's essential for all Factards. Arm yourself with Fact-off ammunition. Well-written, clever, good design. Read more
Published on 2 Oct 2011 by Joe
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and extraordinary!!!
this book is fantastic!!! i absolutely loved it! i have read 5 or six other books on the underground and this was my favourite! a MUST read! i have bought it for numerous presents!
Published on 3 April 2011 by s oliver-hinchliffe
3.0 out of 5 stars Our Amazing Underground
Although the book does what it says on the cover, I was slightly disappointed in that it did not go more in depth about some of the more secret and hidden aspects of the... Read more
Published on 8 Jan 2011 by Technical Ted
4.0 out of 5 stars A mine of unlikely information
This book is, as its title states, a book of amazing and extraordinary London Underground facts. Adults and children alike will find items to interest them. Read more
Published on 23 Sep 2010 by Michael Baxter
3.0 out of 5 stars An easy read
This is suitable bedtime light reading. Nothing in it is truly "amazing" in spite of what the title claims, nevertheless I found it something to dip in and out of when not in the... Read more
Published on 9 July 2010 by Mr. N. J. Horne
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