Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

London underground cars become creative space

with 2 comments

I saw this story on CBC Newsworld last night and I bet the CBC’s Nancy originally picked up the story from Spacing Toronto which is where the pic comes from.

Old tube trains in Shoreditch

Old tube trains in Shoreditch

Or rather the picture is on flickr and is creditted to TreeHugger but there is also, of course a website for the project. From which I copied this

Village Underground is socially driven, a charitable organisation and environmentally conscious. Commercial uses directly support the production of new creative work and emerging cultural practitioners. This essential balance allows us to act as a stage – facilitating a vibrant and diverse cross section of creative endeavour, cultural hybrid and artistic collaboration.

Now my first reaction to this image was “But those are new cars” which is just me betraying my age. Any underground train that has been introduced during my lifetime seems new to me, since when I started using it some of the cars were then well over 40 years old, and clearly betrayed the American origins of their first owners. Because the London Underground was financed in the early 1900s by Charles Tyson Yerkes of Chicago – which is also why they are still called “cars” in the American style and not carriages.

But London’s Undergound is never referred to as a “subway” (which is what Spacing Toronto does) – which is what the English call the short passages constructed to take pedestrains underneath the road to cross the street.

The dimensions of these aluminium cars are small because the tube tunnels were made as small as possible to keep construction costs down. The first Underground Railway was built by cut and cover (now known as the Metropolitan, Circle and District lines) and the cars on those lines are closer in size to conventional trains. I suppose that the project just had to take what was available, but the re-use seems to have made the most of the limited headroom. It certainly seems to be a creative use and arguably, in my mind, better that they be inhabited by people than fish.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 9, 2008 at 9:31 am

Posted in transit, Urban Planning

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. When I lived in London in 1980, the locals still referred to the Met/Circle/District/Hammersmith Lines and the underground and the Tube lines, the ones built by boring machine or shield.

    Tube trains can operate on the underground and regular railways, but underground trains can’t operate on Tube lines because of the restrictive loading gauge.

    I saw the news item as well and it seems that these cars were places on an abandoned railway viaduct.

    Malcolm J.

    November 9, 2008 at 10:42 am

  2. That subway car barge pic reminds me of the Buzzer’s pics of the trolleys headed for Argentina.

    http://buzzer.translink.ca/index.php/2008/11/update-on-the-retired-trolleys-sailing-to-south-america/#more-950

    Ron C.

    November 10, 2008 at 9:20 pm


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