Newsletter sign up

The London Underground – 150 Years and Still Going Strong

By | Blog | No Comments

 

One of the great institutions of London is its public transportation system. The gleaming jewel in the crown of the services is the London Underground. Widely referred to simply as “The Tube,” the London Underground covers over 400 kilometres of track through some 270 stations as far out as Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex.

original london underground

How times have changed – the original London Underground

The original parts of the Tube system were first installed in the mid-1800s, with the first train service running between Paddington and Farringdon starting in 1863, some 150 years ago. The Underground has come a long way since those early days when steam locomotives hauled wooden carriages along a short length of track, and today the on-going work to improve and upgrade the system has seen a number of dramatic developments in a relatively short period of time.

From split to united

In the beginning, the London Underground was a series of separate and unconnected companies running a fragmented underground train service across different districts of London. The names of many of the lines on the Tube are taken from the original company that operated services on that line, which eventually all became amalgamated into one whole integrated service.

futuristic jubilee line station canary warf

The almost futuristic Jubilee Line station at Canary Wharf

In 1933, a little under half-way through its life to date, the London Underground was formally constituted as an organisation and brought about the merger of the previously independent lines operating throughout the city. They were also merged with the bus and tram operators to create London Transport, which aimed to provide a complete transport service to cover the whole of inner and greater London. Under this guise, there was a great deal of development in the services on offer under the streets of London, not least of which involved the creation of an entirely new Tube route in 1979, the Jubilee Line, named in honour the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.

Trouble and strife

The London Underground has seen more than its fair share of trouble throughout its 150 year life. Throughout the German bombings in the Blitz during the Second World War, London’s deep Underground stations offered shelter from the falling bombs that laid waste to significant parts of the London landscape.

The bombs moved underground when eight years ago a group of terrorists carried out an attack on the population of London, with a bomb going off in packed carriages during rush-hour on three separate trains as well as a double-decker bus.

In spite of the carnage wreaked by the bombings, the public quickly returned to the Underground to demonstrate their faith in the trains and their defiance of the terrorists who tried to destroy their trust in the system that served them.

Art on the Underground

One of the most notable features of the Underground is its patronage of the arts. Across the city, travellers will find public artwork commissioned by Transport for London that highlights the unique character of that particular part of the city.

Around the Underground, people will also find a wide variety of licenced buskers who entertain travellers with anything from highbrow classical music to the latest rap and R&B as they travel beneath the feet of the people in the city. Many of the Tube stations also have boards that allow Tube staff and regular passengers to write poems and words of wisdom for other passers-by to read and enjoy.

Conclusion

Rather than simply a transportation system, the London Underground is part of the fabric of London life. A major part of the way Londoners go about their day to day business, the Underground has been an important community and cultural touchstone in good times and bad.

Image Credits: Wikipedia 1 & 2

The Sea Life London Aquarium – A Fun Day Out

By | Blog | No Comments

 

London boasts some great attractions with lots of people descending on the capital for a great day out whenever they can. Apart from all the museums, art galleries, shops and historical sites there’s one place that kids of all ages adore visiting. The Sea Life London Aquarium – a fun day out with a difference because a visit to this marine themed attraction is a fascinating experience that’s educational too!

tropical fish

Gorgeous tanks full of colourful tropical fish

Marine Life & More

There’s a lot going on at the Sea Life London Aquarium with special events being organised all of the time. This means one visit is never really enough to this brilliant marine life attraction if you want to take it all in. There are hundreds of varieties of fish and other marine life which includes sharks and even sea scorpions. In fact, the attraction is home to sea life that is found in many oceans of the world.

The Shark Walk has to be experienced to feel the real effect of the sharks, stingrays and other marine life as they swim just inches away under foot. The walkway is made out of glass giving you a bird’s eye view of the amazing sea creatures below. Watching the fish and especially a newish addition called the Californian Cownose rays, as they swim around in synchronised formations in the immaculate sea water tanks is pretty impressive to say the least.

rays swimming

Rays swimming just below your feet on the glass walkway

The Amazing Whale Skeleton Tunnel

You need the whole day to really appreciate all there is to see and do at the Sea Life London Aquarium. The 25 metre long tunnel through a whale skeleton that takes you through an ocean of tropical fish and green turtles sees many a visitor coming back again and again. It’s fun to watch these colourful marine animals in their beautiful and quite exquisite aquarium habitat from such a great perspective.

The Rainforests of the World

This extraordinary area of the attraction is full of exotic vegetation and even boasts a tropical waterfall. This is where you’ll find a pair of dwarf crocodiles that measure a mere six foot long. Not very long ago another attraction was added to this already fascinating underwater venue in the form of the Ocean of Stars exhibit. Six different types of starfish are showcased with an unusual and themed tentacle tunnel offering great close ups of all the Asteroidea found in there.

The Perfect Venue for All Ages

Spending a day at the Sea Life London Aquarium is the perfect choice for a family day out – younger children can really enjoy the experience of squashing their faces against many of the display window so they can spy lots of incredible marine creatures. This includes the scary sharks and the much rarer sea turtles of the world, all the while learning about the marine life they see.

Learning About All the Research & Conservation Projects

There’s so much to learn on a visit to the attraction and this includes finding out about all the fantastic research work that’s carried out as well as the breeding and conservation programmes. This has been set in place to ensure many sea creatures survive for future generations to enjoy.

Celebrating Turtle Week

There’s something interesting happening at the attraction no matter what time of the year and currently this includes celebrating “Turtle Week”. This is a great event where both children and adults can get involved in learning just how to keep the rare and endangered Green Sea Turtles safe in their natural wild habitats. Visitors to the event get to meet the resident Green Sea Turtles and learn all there is to know about these gentle, lovely marine creatures. People even get the chance to hand feed the turtles kept at the attraction.

Conclusion

Organising a day out in London can be great especially with all the brilliant things found in the capital to keep you busy. The Sea Life London Aquarium is one of the attractions the whole family can really enjoy, and being so well situated close to the South Bank and right next to the London Eye, it makes for a great place to start a fun day out in London.

 

Image credits: falling_angel and failing_angel

West Side Story Returns to London (7th Aug to 22nd Sept, 2013)

By | Blog | No Comments

 

West Side Story is one of the most popular and greatest musicals of modern times and it’s heading back to London in celebration of its 50th anniversary year. The original book was written by Arthur Laurents paired to the fabulous score by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the Broadway stage version is thought to have changed the concept of musicals forever and it’s about to happen yet again.

west side story musical book

The original book

The story is based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with the film version set in the fifties having been a massive success back in its day when it hit the silver screen. The show had enjoyed huge success as a Broadway musical and the film version introduced the story to a global audience like never before. With the amazing songs that include Maria, Somewhere, I Feel Pretty and many others, today’s theatre version of the musical has been tagged “a masterpiece and musical landmark” of modern times.

Fans will be able to enjoy the musical when it returns to the stage at Sadler’s Wells this autumn for a renewed and revived production of the original show. The dance sequences along with the amazing stage scenery with Joel McKneely’s vibrant stage production, is bound to get a few toes tapping to the well-known and now famous melodies that made the Broadway show and film such a hit with people all over the world.

The musical boasts Jerome Robbins’s original and brilliant choreography which went down a storm the first time around in 2008. The cast of the show are more than adept at proving their technical brilliance with the world renowned composer Donald Chan leading the way as a live orchestra plays the now iconic Bernstein score.

amazing musical

An amazing musical

An Amazing Musical Gloriously Restored

It’s amazing to think that fifty years after the musicals’ first showing in the West End, this now classic theatre musical still draws in the crowds like never before. The story of Romeo and Juliet is known the world over and having been brought into a fifties setting of gritty urban living, has proved that even today, a classic musical still hits the right spot with discerning London audiences.

A Superb Cast To carry it off

The cast is to say the least, a young and exuberant ensemble with names like Lana Gordon adding to the vibrancy of the show in a superb way. There’s a lot going on in this musical, with pulsating songs and dance themes that really do prove that West Side Story is indeed one of the greatest “theatre musicals of all time”.

As you would expect of a venue such as Sadler’s Wells, the production is out of this world with the theme of West Side Story’s gang violence as well as the racial prejudice really hitting much of what is happening in today’s modern world. This is just one of the reasons the storyline is still as relevant today as it was fifty years ago or even in Shakespeare’s day.

Conclusion

In 2008, the musical received rave reviews not only from the many theatre critics but all the people who bought tickets to see the cleverly put together production of the Broadway show. For years audiences have relished the modern day version of Romeo and Juliet. Starting out as a Broadway show and then hitting the silver screen earning it brilliant critical acclaim, the musical promises to keep London audiences entertained when it arrives at Sadler’s Wells this autumn. However, it might be worthwhile booking tickets early if you don’t want to miss out on what promises to be another brilliant production of West Side Story – the show tends to sell out rather quickly even today.

 

Image credits: Bueno Book Shop and regionalfoodbank

Support London’s Air Ambulance

We are delighted to support London’s Air Ambulance, helping to extend the reach of their lifesaving missions across London. The London Helicopter will match your donation to double its impact.

css.php