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The London Underground (the Tube)

The Origins of the London Underground

If you’ve been to London, I’m sure you have travelled on the London Underground. The Underground is also nicknamed ‘the Tube’ because of the shape of the tunnels that the trains go through.

holborn tube station

Holborn Station – the closest station to Bloomsbury International

Many Londoners complain about the London Underground – it is too crowded, too expensive and there are too many delays and station closures. However, this doesn’t stop the 3 million passengers who travel on the Tube every day! Without the London underground how would most people get to work or to their English lessons?! Instead of complaining, I think we should all take a minute to think about the good points of the Underground – the oldest metro system in the world…

Today (10th January 2014) is the 151st anniversary of the London Underground (the Tube). The first line of the Underground (the Metropolitan) was opened on 10th January 1863. It ran from Paddington to Farrington Street and stopped at seven stations.

Did you know…?

  • When it opened, there were only 4 miles of track on the Tube but now there are 253 miles!
  • A line called City and South London was built but was not popular as the trains were made with no windows and were nicknamed ‘padded cells’! This was because the people who made the trains thought that there wasn’t anything to see underground!
  • There are around 40 ghost stations (stations that are not used anymore or have never been opened). One of these is between Tottenham Court Road and Holborn – very close to Bloomsbury International!
  • The iconic London Tube map was designed in 1933 by Harry Beck. He was only paid 10 guineas which is equivalent to £10.50! Before his famous creation, this is what the Underground map looked like:london underground map
  • The most popular journey on the Tube is Leicester Square to Covent Garden on the Piccadilly Line. However, this is also the shortest distance between 2 stations. It is actually faster (and cheaper) to walk!
  • During World War II, the British Museum stored some of its most valuable items in the Piccadilly Line (the line was of course closed at the time!)
  • The longest escalator is in Angel station – it is 60 metres long! (I walked up it once – it wasn’t easy and many people applauded when I reached the top!)
  • Even though it is called the Underground, only about 40% is actually in tunnels.

    students on the london underground

    Bloomsbury International students on one of the 426 London Underground escalators

  • Approximately 500,000 mice live in the London Tube system.
  • Travelling for approximately 20 minutes on the London Underground is equivalent to smoking one cigarette due to the bad air quality!
  • A type of mosquito was found on the Tube and it is now called the London Underground mosquito. It is a completely different type of mosquito to those found above the ground.

Would you like to learn English in London and experience the famous London Tube yourself? There are only 23 days remaining of our special offer for English classes! 

Have fun with English

Countable and uncountable nouns

Countable nouns are things we can count, for example cups – we can have one cup, two cups, 10 cups etc. Uncountable nouns are things we cannot separate so we cannot count them, for example sugar – we can count ‘kilos of sugar’ or ‘bags of sugar’ but we cannot actually count ‘sugar’.

Are the nouns below countable or uncountable? (Be careful, there is one noun that can be both!)

–          Cat
–          News
–          Money
–          Suitcase
–          Fork
–          Box
–          Room
–          Water
–          Information
–          Table

Last week’s answers

American English (AE) or British English (BE)?

  1. Aeroplane (BE) – airplane (AE)
  2. Car park (BE) – parking lot (AE)
  3. Theatre (BE) – theater (AE)
  4. Drugstore (AE) – chemist (BE)
  5. Aluminium (BE) – aluminium (AE)
  6. Soccer (AE) – football (BE)
  7. Lorry (BE) – truck (AE)
  8. Cell phone (AE) – mobile phone (BE)
  9. Trainers (BE) – sneakers (AE)
  10. Defense (AE) – defence (BE)

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