John Speller's Web Pages City & South London Railway

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The City & South London Railway was the world's first "deep tube" underground railway, and also the first to be operated by electric power. It arose out of a desire to provide a rail link link between the City of London and the south bank. The company was originally promoted by engineer James Henry Greathead (1844-1896) as the London & Southwark Subway and obtained its Act of Parliament on 28 July 1884. Greathead was the engineer of the line and Charles Ernesto Spagnoletti of the Great Western Railway was the consulting engineer for the electrics. The narrow diameter of the iron tube - a mere 10 ft. 2 in. - saved considerably on the cost of construction. The original line ran from King William Street, just north of the River Thames, to stations at Borough, Elephant & Castle, Kennington, The Oval, and Stockwell, where there were carriage sheds above gound level. The generating station was also at Stockwell, where two vertical compound steam engines operated Edison-Hopkinson dynamos that generated D.C. current at 500 volts, a more logical voltage than the 630 volts that later became standard. The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, opened the line on 18 December, 1890, just in time for the last-minute Christmas shoppers. Extensions were subsequently made in 1900 and 1901, which extended the line via London Bridge to Kings Cross and Euston stations, and southwards to Clapham Common. The line was reconstructed in 1922-1924 with the 11 ft. 8 in. diameter (12 ft. 0 in. outside diameter) tubes that subsequently became standard on the London Underground. A further extension to Camden Town and Morden was built in 1926-1928. The original four-wheeled locomotives built by Mather & Platt had a separate 50 h.p. traction motor to each axle which gave a total horsepower of 100 and, with a wheel diameter of 2 ft. 3 in., a tractive effort of around 3,000 lb. This enabled them to run the trains, which averaged 40 tons, at speeds of up to 25 mph. One of the trains, with the locomotive painted in the distinctive original orange-and-black livery, has been preserved at the London Transport Museum. The City & South London line was purchased by the London Electric Railway in 1913, and came under public ownership as part of the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933. It now forms part of the Northern Line.
Map of the City & South London Railway excerpted from the 1911 London Underground map, with the original line of 1890 superimposed in purple
The distinctive domed Kennington is the only station building surviving from the world's first deep tube railway. All the stations on the line were built to a similar plan, with a dome placed above the lift shaft. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
King William Street station, the original terminus of the City & South London Railway. A second platform was provided in 1895, but the station closed in 1900 when the extension via London Bridge station to Euston was built
Original City & South London train of 1890, comprising a 4-wheeled electric locomotive and "Padded Cell" coaches, elegantly finished in varnished teak, and shown here in the carriage shed at Stockwell. The desire to provide comfortable high-backed seats facing the central aisle led to the virtual elimination of the windows. Subsequent experience demonstrated that passengers preferred windows to comfort even when there was no countryside to see
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