The London Underground is an old system. Its pioneer and prime mover was born in the eighteenth century. The system itself was built before the unification of Italy and before the creation of Germany. Its first travellers wore top hats and frock-coats; there are early photographs of horse-drawn hansom cabs parked outside the underground stations. Oscar Wilde was a commuter on these subterranean trains, travelling from Sloane Square station to his office on Woman's World at the bottom of Ludgate Hill. Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin could both have used the Underground. The coffins of William Gladstone and Dr Barnardo were both transported beneath the earth in funereal underground trains. Jack the Ripper could have travelled on the Underground to Whitechapel: the station was served by the East London Railway.
Peter Ackroyd, London Under