13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 9 November 2012
Main chapter headings are; 150 years Underground. page 4; History, page 10; Tube Journeys, page 66 (to give an idea of balance). Most of the many photographs are of stations or station furniture (signs, lighting etc.), as is a lot of the text so the book would be of interest particularly to those interested in station architecture. Lots of photographs, the majority in colour. Small book, just under 6ins square with 120 pages; packed. Excellent value at present price of £5.24 but also if it was at RRP of £6.99.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 13 January 2013
I've reviewed a fair number of Shire Books, most of them on transport subjects, and make no apology for repeating my usual introduction. If you have ever visited a museum you will almost certainly have seen Shire titles on sale in the shop - whole racks of them, covering an amazingly eclectic range of subjects. Most are A5 booklets in a more-or-less uniform style, typically with around 56 well-illustrated pages between card covers. What makes them special is the publisher's practice of seeking out authors who not only have genuine expertise in their field but also have the ability to write in language fully intelligible to the interested novice and, above all, to communicate infectious enthusiasm for their subject. If a topic piques your interest, the relevant Shire book will give you, in highly digestible form, an interesting and reliable introduction, leaving you well-placed to decide whether to take your interest further. That said, the present book is not quite typical Shire fare; it's part of a new series - Shire General - the identifying characteristic of which seems to be that the format of individual volumes not only differs from other Shire series, but also from other volumes in the same series! But it's OK, the Shire hallmarks are all present and correct.
The first section of the Metropolitan Railway, the forerunner of today's Underground, was opened between Paddington and Farringdon Street on 10 January 1863, making 2013 the 150th anniversary of the inception of today's 270-station network catering for an average of 3½ million journeys each day. The anniversary will obviously generate an upsurge of interest in the system, and of the books commemorating event, two stand out, at least in this reviewer's opinion. If you've browsed the available titles on this website, the two appear similar - broadly square in outline, with predominantly dark cover artwork. They're actually very different. The other book, `Underground', is much bigger (11¾ x 10 inches, as against 5¾ inches square for `The Tube') and in 286 pages offers an encyclopaedic review of the Underground and its impact upon the social history and development of the capital; it is in every way the ultimate souvenir of the anniversary, and is thoroughly recommended. `The Tube' is much more modest in comparison, with 120 pages, but it has different objectives, which it fulfils more than adequately.
The author, Oliver Green, has a long association with the history of the capital's transport; he was the first curator of the London Transport Museum when it opened at Covent Garden in 1980. He worked outside London from 1989, but returned to Covent Garden as Head Curator in 2001: he is currently a Research Fellow at the Museum. He is author or co-author of numerous books relating to transport in London, especially in the fields of art and architecture; these include `Underground' (see above), co-authored with David Bownes and Sam Mullins, and `London Railway Stations' in Shire's `Discovering ...' series.
`The Tube' is subtitled `Station to Station on London's Underground'. The first half of the book (62 pages) begins by placing the Underground in the wider context of London's transport, and goes on to provide a broadly chronological account of the development of the system over the past century-and-a-half. Without doubt, this is the best concise summary of the history of this huge and complex system I have yet had the pleasure to read. The second half (52 pages) offers seven highly flexible itineraries, guiding the interested traveller around the best examples of Underground architecture and infrastructure from the earliest days of the system through to the most recent developments. Each itinerary promises a fascinating variety of experiences; if I lived closer to London I'd sample them all, but I hope to see as much as I can in the course of this anniversary year. The itinerary titles alone are enough to whet the appetite, and I cannot do better than recite the list: `Inner Circle' (Circle and District Lines), `Pioneer Tubes' (Hammersmith & City and Central Lines and the Northern Line to Morden), `Bringing Chicago to London: The Yerkes Tubes' (Bakerloo Line and Northern Line Edgware Branch), `Metro-Land' (Metropolitan Line to Uxbridge and Jubilee Line to Stanmore), `Northern Heights' (Northern Line to High Barnet, with optional bus link to return by Edgware Branch), `Piccadilly Progress' (Piccadilly Line) and finally `Heading South and East' (Docklands Light Railway and Jubilee Line Extension, including the Emirates Airline cable car!).
The final four pages include suggestions for further reading, a list of relevant websites and an index to the 150 or so stations mentioned in the text. There are 100 or so illustrations, over 80 of which are in colour. Most of these are fairly small, this being dictated by the pocket-size format, but a handful occupy a full page, and the overall quality is excellent. The book is a hardback, with cloth covers protected by a laminated dustjacket.
For the serious enthusiast this is a handy-sized guide to the location of the best art and architecture to be found on the system, for those with a more general interest it offers an opportunity for several pleasant days of exploration and discovery, and for the Londoner using the system regularly it draws attention to the gems hidden by the grey cloak of familiarity. Even for an outsider living almost 300 miles from London, it's a fascinating and informative read. At the current (January 2013) Amazon price of £5.24 (normal price £6.99) it's an unmissable bargain and I recommend it wholeheartedly.