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The Windsor Tube


Believe it or not, in the 19th century it was possible to get from London to Windsor by tube. It would be welcome by many of us today I am sure! But let’s have a look how it was possible.

Linking the City of London with the urban centre with an underground railway had been on the table as far as the 1830s and finally the Metropolitan Railway was granted permission to build the line in 1854. The world’s first underground railway opened in January 1863 and ran between Paddington and Farringdon where wooden carriages were hauled by steam locomotives.

The District Line was built next and it was opened in December 1868. Services ran from South Kensington to Westminster and were part of the part of a plan for a below-ground ‘inner circle’ connecting London’s main line termini.

By 1871, when the District began operating its own trains, the railway had extended to West Brompton and a terminus at Mansion House. Between 1 March 1883 to 30 September 1885 the District Railway ran trains between Mansion House and Windsor.

If you think about it, Queen Victoria could have got from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle by train! St James’s Park station was just a few minutes walk from Buckingham Palace and she could have hopped on a train and got to Windsor.

Why is the line not available any longer? The line was uneconomic and unpopular, so the District Railway decided to shut it down.

To be honest, I am not surprised the service was unpopular as Windsor was not a tourist destination or a hugely popular place in the 1880s. There were slums opposite the castle and the town was not anything like it is today.

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