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Lighting the Underground: London, 1863-1914

Dennis, R; (2017) Lighting the Underground: London, 1863-1914. Histoire Urbaine , 50 (3) pp. 29-48. 10.3917/rhu.050.0029. Green open access

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Abstract

Underground space is frequently associated historically with underworld activities of a criminal or politically subversive nature, or with the underbelly of the city: a place to bury or flush away waste products, including the city’s dead. For these activities, light was either unnecessary or positively avoided. But the introduction of underground railways necessitated a degree of artificial lighting at least sufficient to facilitate efficient operation and to assure the travelling public of their personal safety. This paper examines debates surrounding the lighting of the earliest underground railways in London, beginning in the 1860s when trains were still steam-operated and lighting was principally by gas, a potentially lethal combination of asphyxiants and combustibles, but tolerable for the sake of the benefits offered by underground transportation in a city characterised by congestion.

Type: Article
Title: Lighting the Underground: London, 1863-1914
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3917/rhu.050.0029
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3917/rhu.050.0029
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10118141
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