Anyone who spends what seems like half of their life with their face squished into the armpits of strangers may feel that they know – only too well – all there is to know about London’s famous underground transport system. But next time you’re mentally preparing to step (aka burrow) into a carriage that looks as though a wafer-thin mint might push it over the edge, try taking your mind off the scrum by ruminating, instead, on its history.
To help with this is David Lawrence’s latest book, The Moving Metropolis: London’s Transport since 1800, which comes out this September. And if anyone is an authority, it is surely Lawrence, who is a research fellow at the London Museum of Transport, architect and design historian. Packed full of illustrations and vintage posters, it traces its trajectory, examining how Londoners exchanged the horse-drawn omnibus for the “two-penny tube” and taking us right up to the not-yet-complete Crossrail.
Just don’t expect to be able to squeeze on to the tube and read the book at rush hour.
The Moving Metropolis: London’s Transport since 1800 by David Lawrence is published by Laurence King in September; £24.95