Commuters and train enthusiasts can now read about the trailblazing Metropolitan Railway, which spawned the world’s first underground which has carried residents from suburbia to central London for the past 120 years.
A new book, called The Metropolitan Railway, charts the progress of underground travel since its birth in 1863, when the capital’s underground system became the first of its kind in the world.
It was extended to Uxbridge in 1904.
Its early popularity is reflected in Metropolitan Railway postcards promoting the idea of living in the new suburbs, later known as Metro-land.
Nostalgic images in the book also include a packed platform at Eastcote station in 1925 - the village was a magnet for school parties wanting to visit The Pleasure Gardens and Pavilion at Eastcote.
The Pavilion still exists but is now surrounded by tennis courts.
On busy days in the 1920s, around 3,000 passengers could be found using the station.
The original Uxbridge station in Belmont Road, a handsome sight, is also featured.
Leonard Smith, 81, of Montague Road, Uxbridge, remembers using the railway from about 1930.
He said: “The line was much quieter during the day when I would be taken as a child up to places like the Science Museum, but then later, people poured out of work on to the trains to travel home. It was clean and comfortable and there were more staff about. They took your tickets which of course is done by machines today.
“Nowadays, by the time you get from Uxbridge to Rayners Lane it is much more packed than it used to be.
“It is also different in that people put their feet up on the seats, eat and drink through the journey, and then leave their rubbish behind on the train.
“However, on the plus side, I have found people do still often stand up to give their seat for others if they are having problems.”
The first part of the Metropolitan Line was opened in 1863, and by 1900 the railway, designed as an alternative to the congested streets of London, reached almost 50 miles into the countryside north-west of the company’s headquarters at Baker Street.
Like main-line railways, it offered a full range of goods and parcels services, and even in central London passengers could send their parcels “by Metropolitan.”
The book is packed with fascinating photographs, including in 1934 Northwood station with an enormous poster outside advertising Crosse and Blackwell’s grocery products.
However, by the 1930s the area had been transformed by new housing estates.
The Uxbridge branch of the line, opened in 1904 as a seven mile railway, served a predominantly rural area and joined the main line at Harrow.
At the opening in 1904, a special train ran from Baker Street to South Harrow and Uxbridge, and lunch was served in a marquee in Uxbridge station yard.
The Metropolitan Railway, by David Bownes, is published by Tempus, and costs £12.99.