vsign7marfi - The Victoria Line's really big 50th birthday!

This is it! The big day! 7th March 1969 when the Victoria Line really came into the world. On this day fifty years ago the Queen rode the new automated trains and officially opened the new line in a ceremony at Victoria station. There are 150 images on view. That’s fifty times three… 50 images for each of the three stages of the Victoria Line. Nearly all the images in this special feature are embeds from Twitter, with a handful from Flickrs & others. There’s everything that could be thought of! This special feature was once one of the longest blog posts in the world – though no records were sought to be broken!

Update: October 2020 – The problem with having such long posts is a large number of the images disappear through Twitter account changes, suspensions or even account deletions. Quite a few tweets came from TfL’s Victoria Line Twitter timeline – which as some will know, was deleted in September 2020 as part of a slimming down of TfL’s social media accounts. On top of that one account that of Mike Horne’s was eventually deleted in due course as he had passed away earlier in the year. Thus it was decided to split this very long feature post into three parts in order to manage the content better.

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What would we do without the Victoria Line? Source: Twitter

**Before we start, please note this blog is not responsible for any of the images. These are all embedded and none are hosted on the blog.

Despite my saying there were 150 images on this post the number’s crept up in the first few days of March 2019 with new tweets available. Currently its 164! (Note: These have now been split equally into the three parts of this feature.)

First, the Royal Opening 7th March 1969:

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The Queen seems in sombre mood as she descends the escalator at Green Park. Source: Twitter

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A few seconds later she’s clearly very happy, perhaps the man besides her had made a joke to lighten the day’s proceedings somewhat. Source: Twitter

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The Queen is about to start the official proceedings of V Day 7th March 1969 by pressing the buttons for the train to commence its journey. Source: Twitter

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About to press the buttons and off she goes! Source: Twitter

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The Queen smiles as the train is about to head towards Oxford Circus. Source: Twitter

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The Queen rides the Victoria Line from Oxford Circus to Victoria. Is there a voyeur on board I wonder? Source: Twitter (Note: Twitter account deleted thus an archived image is used here.)

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Another view of the Queen – this time without that LT guy popping his head through the cab door lol! Source: Twitter

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Things are certainly quite jovial as the Queen makes her way to Victoria to officially announce the new line open before going on to a special luncheon to celebrate the occasion. Source: Twitter (Note: Twitter account deleted thus an archived image is used here.)

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Another view of the tube carriage’s jovial proceedings. Source: Twitter

Today’s bonus video from the London Transport Museum!…

Today’s bonus tweet from Michael Horne!

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LT’s special notice for the ‘Royal Trains’ operation. Published 25th February 1969 – which shows how far ahead planning was! Source: Twitter (Note: Twitter account deleted thus an archived image is used here.)

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Cover of commemorative Victoria Line book showing us how the new tube carefully avoided the Queen’s own basement! Source: Twitter

The Queen mentioned at the official opening on 7th March the construction of the Victoria Line had been ‘almost a domestic undertaking.’ Great interest had been shown by the Royal family as the new tube’s construction took place so close to the palace itself.

There was a small access shaft opposite the palace thus the Royals could see work being undertaken on the new line.

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The original article. Used on the ‘Royal’ tube train! Source: Twitter

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A nice recreation of the original V Day sign at Walthamstow pumphouse. Source: Twitter

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This official picture of TfL’s recent refurbishment/enlargement of the Victoria Line ticket hall shows the plaque unveiled by the Queen on 7th March 1969 is restored to public view. Source: Flickr

Back in time to the days before the Victoria Line was born….

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The Victoria Line as it originally looked in 1904! This is the southbound platform at Finsbury Park which was reused for the Victoria Line. The tiled ceiling seen in this picture is still evident today. Source: Harringay Online

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Exhibition on the proposed Victoria Line 1957. Source: Twitter (Note: Twitter account deleted or suspended thus an archived image is used here.)

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Reconstructed 1957 Beck tube map from the above exhibition showing how the line was first presented – in Deep Purple – its a case of Come Taste the Line! As I have extolled elsewhere the original route was Wood Street to Victoria. Source: Twitter (Note: Twitter account deleted or suspended thus an archived image is used here.)

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Report on the proposed Victoria Line by the London Travel Committee for Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation. This was published in the summer of 1959. Source: Twitter

By this time they had begun work on the Victoria Line. This was two years before any of the main work began and involved an experimental section of tunnel east of Finsbury Park – later used as a running tunnel for the new tube. The following view looks down the new yet unfinished Netherton Road shaft….

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One of the line’s earliest construction shafts at Netherton Road – later to be used as a ventilation shaft. December 1960. Source: Twitter

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One of Harry Beck’s last tube map drafts drawn in 1961 for LT. It shows the new Victoria Line very cleverly drawn in a completely straight line – with substantial other alterations undertaken to achieve this. LT rejected Beck’s design and wouldn’t hire him anymore. Other quirks in this design include the Northern Line branches south of Camden. Source: Tumblr

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Some things never change. One reason for the Victoria Line was to relive congestion at Oxford Circus tube. This is a 1962 scene with crowds trying to enter the tube station. Despite the Victoria Line being built the huge crowds haven’t gone away! Source: Twitter

As soon as the Victoria Line was officially approved in August 1962, London Transport immediately went to work to produce new Underground maps for its stations (though not pocket maps) showing the proposed Victoria Line. It was probably an attempt to exorcise the name of Harry Beck for all we know… These new look maps were released towards the end of 1962.

The inclusion of the new tube as a dotted blue line without any explanation only served to confuse a lot of people who thought there was indeed a new tube line between Walthamstow and Victoria, and people were actually trying to use or find that route!

In early 1963 due to a lot of complaints that this new 1962 map was misleading London Transport was forced to make numerous small stickers with the legend ‘Victoria Line under construction’ making it absolutely clear the new line could not be used because it hadn’t even been built!

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1963 Poster illustrating the new station to be built at Oxford Circus. (See the Euston example below for a later version of this style.) The text on the poster read: “An artist’s impression of the new station, showing how the Victoria Line will run in relation to the Bakerloo and Central Lines and how interchange will be made between the three lines….The work is expected to take about six years to complete.” The poster was republished in the Illustrated London News for 21 November 1964. Source: Twitter

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Constructing the Oxford Circus umbrella. The first girder goes in 3rd August 1963. Source: Twitter

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Constructing the Oxford Circus umbrella August 1963. Source: Brunel University

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The famous Oxford Circus umbrella. Source: Twitter

Constructing the tunnels:

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A Victoria Line station under construction. Source: Twitter

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More construction work! Apparently this is Oxford Circus. Source: Twitter

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In those days there was no safety equipment of any sort. Even the supervisors can be seen wearing bowler hats! (See the second image on this page for example.) Conditions were so hot in some places the workers had to toil shirtless. Source: Twitter

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Another Victoria Line construction picture this time October 1964. Source: Twitter

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Lots of workers using good old picks, shovels, and loads of manual labour October 1964 again. Source: Twitter

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The bit where the southbound Victoria Line passes from the ‘Big Tube’ to its nominally sized tunnel after Finsbury Park. Source: Twitter

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One of the 1904 tunnels at Highbury which was reused for the Victoria Line. Source: Twitter

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Work underway to divert the Piccadilly Line in 1965. Its trains would be re-routed to the platforms alongside the southbound Victoria Line. The northbound Victoria Line would use the Piccadilly’s former southbound platform. This view shows the old line, now on a temporary trestle, south of Finsbury Park. The new line is on the extreme right. Source: Harringay Online

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Progress on the new tube’s ticket hall takes place at Victoria bus station, prob 1965. Note the old Wilton Road entrance then under construction. This was replaced by a new one in 2018. Source: Ground Engineering

Working towards an operational line:

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1967 tube stock mock up at Acton works. Source: Leon Daniels Blog

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Mock up carriage for the proposed new line. This was shown at an exhibition in the Design centre, Haymarket, on the planning and construction of the Victoria Line, which ran from August to September 1968. Source: Twitter

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Building the 1967 tube stock. Source: Twitter

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Putting the finishing touches to the new 1967 tube stock. Source: Twitter

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Official LT Victoria Line 1967 stock postcard. Note the pick up coil housing in front of the leading bogie. Taken at Ruislip LT depot. Source: HipPostcard

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Another view in the series they took that day. The car number is 3001! Also
at Ruislip LT depot. Source: Twitter

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Here’s that first picture again – for comparison! The pick up coil is how the automatic trains got their instructions. Source: Twitter

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Victoria Line four car train on the ATO Hainault shuttle at Woodford siding. Source: Twitter

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1967 stock on the Hainault shuttle. Source: Twitter

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1967 stock on the Hainault shuttle – and its time for a cuppa! Source: Twitter

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How they diverted the Northern in order to build the Victoria Line at Euston! Source: Wikipedia

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In October 1967 the new Euston tube station opened complete with Victoria Line escalators and platforms. The Northern Line’s Bank platform was built in the Victoria Line style (see my post on this) thus people had more than a year’s preview of what the new tube would look like! Source: PicClick

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Cut away drawing of the new Oxford Circus tube station. Source: Twitter

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Preparing the new escalators. These were originally dual speed – it means they slowed to a crawl unless people were actually using them. Source: Twitter

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March 1968 and it was being planned the Victoria Line should open 3rd September 1968. It was eventually switched to the 1st September AND the first train was at 07.32am. Source: Twitter (Note: Twitter account deleted thus an archived image is used here.)

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Leaflet on the new tube before it opened 1st September 1968. Source: Twitter (Note: Twitter account deleted thus an archived image is used here.)

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The new Victoria Line ticket hall became operational late summer 1968 in advance of the new line’s opening. (This wasn’t the earliest such example – the new Euston tube station opened in 1967.) Source: Twitter

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Victoria Line beset by damp problems before opening. Note the announcement the first train would be at 07.32am. Source: Twitter

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Another report re damp problems. (Was on Twitter – account deleted.)

Would it or will it not open? Things actually got worse as the deadline drew on. That night a big fire nearly engulfed Walthamstow Central station. The quick thinking of fire crews saved the night – and the Victoria Line was able to open as planned on the Sunday morning 1st September 1968.

Continues in Part Two.

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David Cohen

Nice reference to Deep Purple!