East London Line | Metropolitan Line: East of Harrow | Northern Line: High Barnet and Bank Branches | Northern Line: Morden Branch | Northern Line: Edgware and Charing Cross Branches | Piccadilly Line: North of Leicester Square | Piccadilly Line: West of Leicester Square | Victoria Line | Waterloo & City Line
The London Underground's first trains began to run in 1863 when the Metropolitan Railway (MetR) opened between Farringdon Street and Paddington Bishop's Road, the latter now forming the Hammersmith & City line stop at Paddington. In 1865 the line was extended to the east, with Farringdon Street being closed as the line called at nearby Farringdon on the way to Moorgate. A year later, the first parts of the widened lines were opened, with mainline tracks running parallel with the tube lines to Moorgate. However, the next extension of the MetR came in 1868, with the line from Edgware Road being extended round to the south, calling at Paddington Praed Street on the way to Gloucester Road, a section which now forms part of the Circle line.
Meanwhile, an independent company known as the Baker Street and Swiss Cottage Railway opened a line which ran from the MetR station at Baker Street towards Swiss Cottage, calling at St John's Wood Road1. The line was soon bought by the MetR and added to their network. Later on in 1868, the MetR extended one stop to South Kensington, meeting with the District line which had just opened from there to Westminster. No further expansion of the line occurred until 1875, when the line crept from Moorgate to Liverpool Street, calling at the mainline station until a separate tube station was ready. The line then advanced another stop to reach Aldgate the next year. Between 1877 and 1916, the MetR ran services to Richmond via Shepherd's Bush and a viaduct between Hammersmith (Grove Road) and Ravenscourt - see Shepherd's Bush in Abandoned Lines and Stations.
Finishing the Circle Line
With the MetR running services from Aldgate to Hammersmith and South Kensington, and District line trains running from Richmond to Westminster and then alongside the Thames to Mansion House, the Metropolitan railway made use of the short line northwards towards Swiss Cottage, extending it to West Hampstead and then to Willesden Green in 1879. The following year the line reached Harrow-on-the-Hill. In 1882, the line from Aldgate was extended round to Tower Hill, with a joint MetR and District effort in 1884 leading to the construction of the final section of what is now the Circle line between Mansion House and Mark Lane, the latter replacing Tower Hill station at the time. Meanwhile, the District line opened a line from Mark Lane to Whitechapel via Aldgate East to meet a link track from the East London Line, and the MetR opened a link from Liverpool Street to Aldgate East.
Now that the origins of the Circle line and Aldgate East junction have been covered, the only remaining history of the MetR lies in its northwesterly expansions. Driven by a megalomania for a MetR line from London to Manchester, the railway was extended from Harrow-on-the-Hill to Pinner in 1885, reaching Rickmansworth in 1887, and with the line to Chesham arriving in 1889. In 1890 the MetR obtained a tramway between Quainton Road and Brill. In 1891 a railway opened between Aylesbury and Verney Junction via Quainton Road, and so the following year the MetR was extended to Aylesbury to meet it, taking the railway over in 1897. The lines west of Amersham closed in 1933 and are now abandoned.
In 1899, the Great Central Railway constructed a line to Quainton Road, allowing their trains to then run along Metropolitan line tracks to Harrow-on-the-Hill. However, disagreements meant that the Great Central built their own set of tracks from there into London, with the line terminating at Marylebone. In 1904, the Uxbridge branch of the Metropolitan line was opened. Electrification of the line began in 1905, but steam services continued to serve the outer reaches of line for several years after. The Metropolitan line gained full control of the East London line in 1913, with the latter not becoming a separate entity again until the link between Shadwell and Aldgate East was severed in the 1980s.
The line stop Stanmore was opened in 1932, but the line to Stanmore was taken over by the Bakerloo line between 1939 and 1979, and now most of the stations between Baker Street and Wembley Park and the branch between Wembley Park and Stanmore are served by the Jubilee line.
The Metropolitan line begins at Aldgate on the Circle line and runs westwards, but then follows a different route, heading up towards the north from Baker Street. The line then splits into multiple branches after Harrow-on-the-Hill station, which head towards Uxbridge and Amersham. The Amersham branch gives off two spurs towards Watford and Chesham before reaching Amersham. This section of the guide deals with the stations on the main section of the Metropolitan line.
Aldgate to Baker Street
Aldgate would seem a very odd place for a line to terminate. After all, the Circle line keeps going round towards the south, while the Hammersmith & City line makes its way off towards Barking. The reason for all this is that historically, Tower Hill and the bottom of the Circle line belong to the District line, and now that the East London line has been separated from the Metropolitan, there's not much point in continuing towards Aldgate East. So Aldgate it is. From this starting point, the line runs alongside the Circle line, which is also joined by Hammersmith & City line as it begins to run along the oldest section of underground railway in the world. The section between King's Cross St Pancras and Baker Street was all opened in 1863, but after reaching the latter, the line now heads off towards the north, leaving other lines to cover the tracks to Paddington.
The entrance to Aldgate station sits on Aldgate Street, 250m southwest of its sister station at Aldgate East. The entrance to the station leads into a small ticket hall, behind which lies a small bank of steps leading onto the footbridge which spans the middle pair of lines. The station has four platforms, two of which serve Circle line trains and two of which act as the terminus for the Metropolitan line. Just to the north of the station, the Hammersmith & City line shoots past on its way towards Aldgate East, with the District line doing the same thing to the south. The track leaving the station towards the south is one of only two sections actually built specifically for the Circle line2, but it joins the District line on the way towards Tower Hill so soon that it hardly counts.
The station was opened in 1876 as the 'terminus' of the MetR's own tracks, and although trains ran in all sorts of directions during the early days of the Inner Circle line, it was eventually adopted as a proper terminus in 1941 and has remained one ever since. The station was hit by a German bomb during the Second World War, causing extensive damage. One of the bombs of 7 July, 2005 exploded on a southbound train just north of Aldgate, damaging the tunnel to such an extent that for a while, trains had to terminate at Moorgate instead.
Opened in February, 1875, the line from Moorgate to Liverpool Street originally ran into the mainline station, this arrangement being helped by Liverpool Street's sub-surface arrangement. A separate station was ready in July of the same year, being called Bishopsgate station until 1909. The Central line arrived in 1912, with Liverpool Street forming the eastern terminus of the 'London Central Railway' until 1946. An IRA bomb exploded on Bishopsgate in 1993, damaging much of the station, and the sub-surface line to the south was the site of an explosion on 7 July, 2005, as mentioned in the Aldgate section above. By 2015, it is possible that Crossrail will be built to call at a stop somewhere near Liverpool Street.
Access to the Circle, Hammersmith & City lines is via steps quite near to the main barriers, located in a ticket hall roughly opposite platform 3. There is an entrance at each end of the national rail station, one of which leads only to the Central line platforms and is open only on weekdays, with access to the Central line being via steps and escalators. There is also an entrance on Liverpool Street itself, with a hotel room above this entrance having been used by Ethan Hunt in the film Mission Impossible.
See the Northern Line: High Barnet and Bank Branches section of this guide.
Located off Aldersgate, Barbican station opened in 1865 after the line was extended to reach Moorgate. The station was known as Aldersgate and then as 'Aldersgate and Barbican' before being given its current name. The entrance to the station is hidden beneath the footbridge which leads across Aldersgate, with steps leading down to four open air platforms squeezed in behind the rows of buildings either side of the line. Two of these are tube platforms while the other two serve the Thameslink branch from King's Cross to Moorgate, although this small section of the mainline service may soon close. As the line heads towards the west, it passes underneath Smithfields meat market, and a series of tunnels originally used to haul meat off from goods trains can still be seen. The station also lies close to St Bartholomew's Medical College, and the Barbican Centre lies to the east of the tube station.
Farringdon stations lies on the Farringdon Road (A201) only 500m west of Barbican, and a Crossrail station is to be opened somewhere between the two in 2015. Farringdon station also serves the main Thameslink line which runs from north to south through central London, with the tube line curving northwards at Farringdon to accompany the Thameslink line towards King's Cross. Access to the platforms is via steps, and the station is rumoured to have its own resident ghost.
On the way towards King's Cross, the line passes both the location of Farringdon Street, the original terminus of the 1863 line which was replaced by Farringdon 1865, and the old location of the King's Cross subsurface platforms. For more information about these disused stops, see Abandoned Lines and Stations. The original surface building and facade still survive today, bearing the words 'Farringdon and High Holborn', this being the station's name between 1922 and 1936. However, if the Crossrail project goes ahead, the presence of the Thameslink line will make the station into an important hub, necessitating vast rebuilding works.
King's Cross St Pancras
See the Victoria Line section of this guide.
This station consists of a subway which runs underneath Euston Road and lies about five minutes west of Euston tube station, which serves the Victoria and Northern lines, can be reached via the north exit. It is possible that a walkway will soon be built to link the two tube stations as part of a plan to rebuild Euston station. Meanwhile, Warren Street station, which serves the Victoria line and the Charing Cross branch of the Northern line, lies ten minutes to the west.
Euston Square station was originally named after nearby Gower Street, having opened in 1963 as part of the original Metropolitan line. Though the southern entrance to the subway currently consists of a small set of stairs, a section of an adjoining building has been earmarked as a future surface lobby, which would contain a lift to allow disabled access. The station is ideally located for those travelling to University College London, as the southern exit lies about a minute's walk from the UCL quad. The station is also close to the University College Hospital, which lies across Gower Street from the station's southern exit.
Great Portland Street
This station sits wedged between Great Portland Street, Euston Road and Bolsover Street. The station opened as Portland Road in 1863, gaining its current name in 1917. The station consists of a small round building above ground which contains a coffee house and shoe repair shop, with steps leading down to the two platforms. The station is within walking distance of the southeast corner of Regent's Park, and lies only a short distance west of Regent's Park station on the Bakerloo line.
Baker Street to Wembley Park
After calling at Baker Street station, the Metropolitan line runs non-stop past all the stations between Finchley Road and Wembley Park. The three stations built by the Baker Street and Swiss Cottage Railway, Lord's, Marlborough Road and Swiss Cottage, have all become disused and have been replaced by St John's Wood and Swiss Cottage on the Jubilee line - for more information see Abandoned Lines and Stations. Baker Street station is covered in the Bakerloo Line section of this guide, while all stations in between Finchley Road and Wembley Park are covered by the Jubilee Line section, as they are no longer part of the Metropolitan line.
After passing through Baker Street, the line passes through a series of disused subsurface stops before reaching the open air just before Finchley Road. The station opened in 1879, was rebuilt in 1914 and gained a second pair of platforms when the Bakerloo line arrived in 1939. The Bakerloo service has since been replaced by a Jubilee line service, and so all four platforms are still in use. The station sits next to Finchley Road about 500m south of Finchley & Frognal mainline station, which is served by the North London Line between Richmond and Stratford. As the Jubilee line provides a stopping service between Fincley Road and Wembley, those heading towards Stanmore should take the northbound Metropolitan line and change at Wembley Park. The station has toilet facilities, and access to the platforms is via steps, although step-free interchanges are possible.
During the days of the old Wembley stadium, a long concrete walkway would shepherd the crowd all of the way from the Jubilee and Metropolitan lines just off Bridge Road to the outside of the stadium. The station first opened in 1893, but was rebuilt both in 1923 and in early 2005, the latter being in anticipation of the crowds for the new Wembley Stadium. This involved the construction of a new bridge over nearby Wembley Stadium mainline station, which is served by the Chiltern Railways line out of Marylebone station towards Birmingham. Both the mainline station and Wembley Park are also conveniently located for those travelling to Wembley Arena. The station has toilet facilities and a car park, and step-free access is now available.
The original Preston Road station opened in 1908, twenty-eight years after the Metropolitan line had been built there, to serve the local clay pigeon shooting site that was to be used for that year's Olympics. A more permanent station was built further to the west on Preston Road. The station is only served by stopping services, with other Metropolitan line trains running non-stop towards Harrow. The station has toilet facilities, access to the platforms is via steps, and the station is due to be refurbished in 2007.
This station opened in 1923 and sits on Northwick Avenue. The station lies close to the Harrow campus of the University of Westminster and Northwick Park Hospital, both of which sits in the expanses of Northwick Park. The station has toilet facilities, and access to the platforms is via steps, although changes between trains heading onto different branches is generally step-free. The station is only served by stopping services, with other Metropolitan line trains running non-stop towards Harrow. Kenton station on the Bakerloo line and the Euston to Watford mainline lies 400m away, and can be reached by taking the northern exit, heading up Rushout Avenue, which can be seen heading off from Northwick Avenue by looking to your right when you leave the station, and then turning right at the end of the avenue and following the Kenton Road to reach Kenton station.
For fast and semi-fast Metropolitan line trains, Harrow-on-the-Hill is the next stop after Wembley Park or Finchley Road. The station opened in 1880 as Harrow, later changing to its current name in 1894. When it was opened, this station and all the branches northwest of it were surrounded by countryside, and it was only through the presence of the Underground that the area was built upon. Harrow-on-the-Hill station now sits in the middle of the 'Metro-land' that was created by many house buyers flocking to the area, and has four platforms to serve the various branches of the Metropolitan as well as two to serve the Chiltern Railways mainline service out of Marylebone towards Aylesbury. From Harrow-on-the-Hill, the Metropolitan line splits to head to West Harrow or to North Harrow, although trains in this direction can leave from several platforms. The station has toilet facilities and a car park, and access to the platforms is via steps, although changes between trains heading onto different branches are usually step-free.
The Metropolitan line then splits into several branches, as covered in the Metropolitan Line: West of Harrow section of this guide.