Interesting read but quite dry. Am sure I read a similar book a few years ago but it was before the time I was logging my reading so can't remember what it was! There are better histories out there, you'll need to look for them.

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Dates 13 October 2013 – 23 November 2013
Time spent reading 11 hours, 48 minutes
Highlights 13
Comments 1
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The spectacular feat of building a railway underneath a built-up area, a concept so brave and revolutionary that it took nearly forty years for any other country to imitate it, should not be underestimated.

There is no trace of the fact that Farringdon was the original terminus where the banquet was held to celebrate the opening of the Metropolitan in 1863.

But it was the Big Wheel, London’s response to the Eiffel Tower, which proved the real draw. Built in 1895, the 300-foot-diameter wheel was based on the famous Ferris wheel in Chicago and attracted 2.5 million visitors during its twelve-year life. Ironically, the biggest lure seems to have been the prospect of a breakdown. In May 1896, the company running the tower responded to the one prolonged failure by paying each of the hundreds of people who had spent all night dangling in mid-air the sum of £5, equivalent to several months’ wages for many of them. Consequently, a queue of 11,000 people hoping for a similar mishap built up the following day.

it is no exaggeration to say that London’s tube system owes its existence almost entirely to American finance.

If it is scarcely believable that the concept of trains running under cities began to be considered in the early years of the nineteenth century, then it is even more incredible that the first deep tube line, powered by that newfangled invention, electricity, should have opened as early as 1890.

the announcements placed outside the stations of the Baker Street & Waterloo Railway that it is the Bakerloo Railway are not likely to increase the popularity of this struggling concern. Some latitude is allowable, perhaps, to halfpenny papers, in the use of nicknames, but for a railway to adopt its gutter title is not what we expect from a railway company. English railway officers have more dignity than to act in this manner.

Covent Garden, which is separated by a mere 280 yards of track from Leicester Square.

To this day, flooding remains probably the greatest risk of a major catastrophe in the tube system, although much stronger defences have been built.

The legacy of London Underground in commissioning art works is unique among transport organisations or, probably, among commercial business of any kind.

‘I arrived at the station and stepped into mud of the most adhesive quality I have seen or felt.’

he saw his role as making decisions—endless strings of them, in fact. Pick described his job as ‘day after day, [having] to find answers to a continuous stream of questions about staff, finance, traffic, engineering, publicity, supplies...In no sense am I an expert. I have and can obtain advice wherever I want it. I merely have to decide, but in deciding I become responsible for my decisions. And while they are all separate decisions, it is necessary for me to try and fit them together into a consistent whole.’

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

The role of the CEO.

office blocks sprouted up like mushrooms on a rotting log.

an organisation is more dependent on its leaders than on its structure