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Ten Interesting Facts about the District Line

Ten Interesting Facts about the District Line

Running from the east in Upminster to Earl’s Court in the west, the District Line forms one of the oldest London Underground lines in the service’s history.  The idea when the line began was that it would connect all of London’s railway termini.  Starting off as a separate underground railway, it was integrated with the other underground railways into the London Underground in 1933.  Since that time, it has become the busiest of the Tube’s sub-surface railways, and as you can imagine, this means that there are a lot of interesting facts for us to relate.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

The District Line first opened on Christmas Eve, 1868, just in time to get people back home for the holiday. 

Busy Busy Busy

As mentioned, the District Line is one of the busiest on the London Underground.  It is the fifth-busiest overall and the busiest of the sub-surface lines.  In 2011/2012, it saw upwards of 208 million riders.   It’s not hard to understand why when you see that the District Line stretches for roughly 40 miles and has 60 stations, the most of any London Underground line.

Blown Away

On December 8, 1954, a tornado actually blew off the roof of the Gunnersbury station on the District Line.  Six people were injured as a result.

Sorry for the Convenience

The District Line was the first amongst the Tube lines to get an escalator, which was installed at the Earl’s Court station in 1911.  People weren’t quite sure about this new-fangled invention, however, and the Tube reportedly hired a one-legged man to ride up and down the escalators to show people that they were safe.

Another First

The Underground Station of Stamford Brook on the District Line was the first to get an automatic ticket barrier installed in 1964. 

It’s Not Bigger on the Inside (We Think)

The Earl’s Court station is also home to the last remaining functional Police Public Call Box in the city.  Better known to modern people as the TARDIS (due to the original TARDIS taking on the look of a Police Box), it was saved from destruction by dedicated Doctor Who fans long after police boxes were no longer necessary.  If you visit it in real life, you won’t be able to get inside, but Google Earth offers a fun surprise to those who use their platform to enter it.

Mister, Can You Spare a Bone?

Laddy, the Airedale Terrier, was a common fixture at Wimbledon station from 1949 to 1956.  With a collection box strapped to his back, Laddie collected donations for the Southern Railway Servants Orphanage.  After retirement, he went to live at the Southern Railway Home for Old People in Woking until his death in 1960.  After that, he was stuffed and returned to Wimbledon station, where he was put on display and still collected money for charity until he was finally removed in 1990. 

A River Runs Through It

During construction, the District Line encountered an issue in that the River Westbourne went right through the planned location of the Sloane Square Station.  To get around this, the engineers essentially constructed a huge pipe through which the river could flow above the station.  The District Line still runs under the River Westbourne, thanks to this piece of engineering. 

End of the Line

The District Line has been used twice to transport the remains of famous persons.  The first was Prime Minister William Gladstone in 1898 from Westminster Station to his funeral at Westminster Abbey.  The second was philanthropist Dr. Thomas Barnardo in 1905.  He was the last dead body to be transported in this fashion. 

It’s not a Platform; It’s Art

Gloucester Road station has a disused Tube platform that’s used for temporary art installations and can be rented out for special events. 

Ten Interesting Facts about the District LineLondontopia – The Website for People Who Love London

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