Underground London

Underground London

by Stephen Smith


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780349115658
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 02/28/2005
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.75(h) x 1.12(d)

About the Author

Stephen Smith works for Channel 4 news and writes regularly for the LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS

Table of Contents

Mine of Information: The Vertical City1
Monster Soup: London's Lost Waters27
Within the Stones: Roman London61
The Canterbury Tolls: Anglo-Saxon London83
Voyage to the Bottom of the See: Medieval London101
The Love Games of Henry VIII: Tudor London131
High Treason: The Gunpowder Plot159
Lifting People: The Plague175
Spoils: London's Treasures201
Going Out with a Bang: Victorian London231
Euston, We Have a Problem: London Underground253
Poste Restante: London's Lost Railway293
Bunker Mentality: Cold War London309
Pool of London: The Essential City341
Select Bibliography369

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Underground London 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Rynooo on LibraryThing 5 months ago
A series of unrelated, uninteresting anecdotes interspersed with a hotchpotch of historical facts and an unhealthy dose of sarcasm.There is far too-strong a focus on the author's various guides (who all seem to be caricatures of Hugh Grant) and no logical flow from one story to the next. Additionally, the descriptive text of each location is so generic (cold, dark and damp) that it's hard to form a mental picture of any location. At the very least the book would benefit from some colour photographs, but all you get are tiny black and white illustrations at the start of each chapter.While it contains the odd interesting tidbit, I'd read far more interesting and cohesive facts about subterranean London in half an hour of browsing through blogs.
riverwillow on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Fascinating account of the various bits of underground London - from the night workers on the tube (who would be a patrolman working alone at night 'pacing out the deserted tunnels with his lamp and his walkie talkie and his large box-spanner' - not me). The subterranean diverted rivers and culverts of London - the walk under the Thames Barrier. Oh yes and the miles of tunnels that the MoD have, allegedly, sunk under the capital. Amazing.
olivetwist on LibraryThing 5 months ago
A wealth of information here--there are many times where I felt (and methinks rightfully so) that I was being treated to some deeply-buried gems, secrets of which only a select few could know the true nature. Some chapters are as surprisingly naughty and funny as what Smith is unearthing for readers in a particular strata. One or two are extremely dry--an agonizingly detailed and technical chapter on a dam system is a violent break in pace and interest. It seemed a well-meaning tribute not to readers or the subject matter but to a guide who had done Smith a big favor in letting him tour a normally off-limits area, nevermind that it didn't turn out to be as worthwhile as rumored. The rumor-mongers are a community of London Underground enthusiasts and the chapter might have been dedicated to the purpose of appeasing/impressing them as well, a testy issue Smith does mention several times in the text (in more amusing chapters). Despite this major mistake and some minor detours of the blander kind, Underground London is a rich feast of an adventure, presenting wonderful stories and spaces and journeys in an entertaining, intimate manner studded with important historical moments and fabulous little anecdotes. I will definitely be revisiting this.
jaygheiser on LibraryThing 5 months ago
A bit above average. In one way, I didn't really enjoy his style, yet in another way, I pretty much didn't put it down. Not sure I'd want to read another of his books.
isabelx on LibraryThing 5 months ago
"On another day when I was deep below London, down where it's dark and cold and wet, I was puzzling over this unfathomable side of the city when a jellyfish went past my head like a think bubble."In underground London there are ex-miners digging utility tunnels, culverted rivers, miles of sewers, a Roman wall in an underground car park, an amphitheatre under the Guildhall, a mediaeval abbey under a supermarket, the wooden funeral effigies of kings and queens, a Tudor tennis court in the basement of the Cabinet Office, crypts, undercrofts and plague pits, wine merchants' cellars, safety deposit vaults and silver vaults under Chancery Lane, cemetery catacombs, London Underground tunnels and stations both working and abandoned, air raid shelters, Turkish baths, the Post Office's miniature railway and a short-lived pneumatic railway, secret government tunnels from the Cold War, the Cabinet War Rooms, service tunnels for the Thames barrier and the Thames Water ring main.This book is a mine of information on the city's history, and includes digressions to such surface activities as the beating of the bounds of All Hallows parish on Rogation Day and how to become a Freeman of the City of London, as well as a side-trip to an old radar station in Lincolnshire.