Inside The Tube: Going Underground

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Inside The Tube: Going Underground
The World's First Deep Tube Line
Episode 1  |  The History Channel  |  October 4, 2017

Rob Bell uncovers the pioneering history of the London Underground - with special access to its hidden workings, and meeting the staff who know and love it. He explores the construction of the world's first deep Tube line - known today as the Northern Line. The Northern Line runs for 60km through London, connecting north and south across the Thames and 700,000 passengers rely on it every day. But to build it, its Victorian engineers had to overcome unbelievable obstacles. One man, James Greathead, pioneered a new kind of tunnelling machine, that allowed deep tunnels to be built faster and more safely than ever before. But the new Tube line needed newfangled electric trains, lifts and escalators to make it work too. Rob discovers the remains of the first-ever station on the Northern Line, King William Street, just before it is sealed up forever. He gets down on the tracks with the maintenance team at Camden Junction, who toil on this Spaghetti Junction of the Tube every night to keep it working, and opens the sealed tunnels of an abandoned extension of the line in north London. And he meets the station manager at Balham to hear the story of how one of the worst tragedies on the Tube unfolded during the Blitz. Finally he's allowed into the latest tunnelling work, as the Northern Line is extended to Battersea Power Station - where the oldest deep Tube in the world is becoming the newest.

Rob Bell uncovers the pioneering history of the London Underground - with special access to its hidden workings, and meeting the staff who know and love it. He explores the construction of the world's first deep Tube line - known today as the Northern Line. The Northern Line runs for 60km through London, connecting north and south across the Thames and 700,000 passengers rely on it every day. But to build it, its Victorian engineers had to overcome unbelievable obstacles. One man, James Greathead, pioneered a new kind of tunnelling machine, that allowed deep tunnels to be built faster and more safely than ever before. But the new Tube line needed newfangled electric trains, lifts and escalators to make it work too. Rob discovers the remains of the first-ever station on the Northern Line, King William Street, just before it is sealed up forever. He gets down on the tracks with the maintenance team at Camden Junction, who toil on this Spaghetti Junction of the Tube every night to keep it working, and opens the sealed tunnels of an abandoned extension of the line in north London. And he meets the station manager at Balham to hear the story of how one of the worst tragedies on the Tube unfolded during the Blitz. Finally he's allowed into the latest tunnelling work, as the Northern Line is extended to Battersea Power Station - where the oldest deep Tube in the world is becoming the newest.

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44:48 | Science
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Inside The Tube: Going Underground

The Busiest Line In Britain  |  Episode 2  |  The History Channel

Rob explores the construction of the busiest of all the Tube lines - the Central Line. The Central Line is the blood red artery that travels through the heart of London. At 46 miles, it is the longest of all tube lines, connecting east and west through the famous shopping district and the city. Transporting 260 million passengers a year, it is also the busiest train line in Britain, under or over ground. But as Rob discovers, it's a line constantly battling a Victorian legacy. One hundred and twenty years ago it began as a privately owned line. It was largely a financial gamble by one of the richest men of the day, Sir Ernest Cassel. But immediately, Cassel faced a problem. Building a straight Tube line beneath London's shops, mansions, and even St Paul's Cathedral, risked massive payouts in compensation. To save money, his Tube followed London's winding medieval roads. It's a decision that has hampered the line ever since. Rob joins an army of workers who descend on the Central Line virtually every night to mend its bendy tracks. It's a massive engineering feat. Rob also meets the Station Manager at Bank, who has become fascinated by the history of the line, especially at his station where the line doesn't bend to save money - it bends to avoid it, because above, below and to the side of its bendy platforms are the gold-filled vaults of the Bank of England. The Central Line is also where one of the darkest tragedies on the tube occurred. During the war, Bethnal Green Station was used as an air raid shelter. But one tragic evening, crowds rushing into it got out of control. One hundred and seventy-three people were killed in a crush. This remains the biggest loss of life on the Tube. Rob meets a group of survivors, who were children at the time, to hear their story of what happened.

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