London’s Underworld

London’s Underworld

London is one of the oldest cities in the world.  Not surprisingly, it has a lot of tales to tell.  Walking along the streets of London, you are passing over thousands of years of people living and working here. There have been innumerable buildings created, destroyed, rebuilt; streets developed, rearranged and sometimes rebuilt.  There are streams and rivers running under many of the streets and buildings, hidden from view in sewers or simply no longer existing.

Reminders of those lost and hidden places can sometimes be found in street names and locations. Take Marble Arch, for example, this was once the site of London’s gallows, and also a river.  Fleet Street is a reminder of the Fleet river that lay between Westminster and the city of London.

Archaeologists often find remnants of that hidden history when they undertake excavations on building sites around London.  Over the past few years, they have been carrying out many archaeological excavations along the route of the new Crossrail underground line stretching from the west to the east of London.  Visitors staying in Aparthotels London head over to the Museum of London, at the Barbican, near St Paul’s Cathedral can see a selection of the many finds that they have discovered, from pottery to bones, jewellery to household objects in a new exhibition focusing on the archaeology of CrossRail.

Every time you travel on London’s Underground while a resident at Holiday Apartments London, you are passing through large swathes of history.  Many of the lines, such as the Circle Line, were created over a hundred years ago during the reign of Queen Victoria.  At that time, the trains were steam driven – so just imagine how dirty, smoky and smelly those tunnels were. 

The Underground system has developed considerably since then, and has played its role in London’s history.  Not just in transporting people around the city to discover its delights, and to work and play; but also for shelter.  During the Second World War, the Underground stations provided shelter to thousands of Londoners seeking refuge from the constant bombing endured during the Battle of Britain.  Much of London was then laid waste, but people survived living and sleeping in the deep stations hundreds of feet below the ground.

You can find out more about London’s Underground – how it was created, the trains, the passengers and even how its iconic logo was developed – at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden not too far from beautiful Presidential Marylebone Mayfair.  There are many fantastic posters dating back to the 1920’s and 1930’s, which encouraged people to travel out from the city into the suburbs.

Not far away in Whitehall, you can discover life underground in another World War II location – Churchill’s War Rooms. This was where Churchill lived and worked, along with many of his Cabinet and military advisors during the darkest days of World War Two.  You can see where he discussed affairs of state, the military headquarters, the long tunnels and even his personal living quarters.