The London Underground turns 150

Today is the London Underground’s 150th birthday.  In celebration of this occasion I thought I would share with you some facts about the oldest Underground in the world… 

The Underground has the oldest section of underground railway in the world, which opened in 1863. 

The tube network is 249 miles long (or the length of 4.98 million Oyster Cards!) 

The Underground is the third busiest metro system in Europe, after Moscow and Paris.

Each week, the Underground's escalators travel the equivalent distance of going twice around the world. 

In cockney rhyming slang, the tube is known as the Oxo (Cube/ Tube).

In 1924, the first baby was born on the Underground, on the Bakerloo line. 

As Princess Elizabeth, the Queen travelled on the Underground for the first time in May 1939, when she was 13 years old, with her governess and Princess Margaret.

An estimated half a million mice live in the Underground system.  Ew.

The Underground was first used for air raid shelters in September 1940. 

During the Second World War, part of the Piccadilly line (Holborn - Aldwych branch), was closed and The British Museum treasures were stored in the empty spaces.  

One of the early names proposed for the Victoria Line was the Viking line. 

The American talk show host Jerry Springer was born at East Finchley during the Second World War:  his mother had taken shelter in the station from an air raid. 

According to a 2002 study, air quality on the Underground was 73 times worse than at street level (20 mins on the Northern Line has "the same effect as smoking a cigarette")
Albus Dumbledore, a character from the Harry Potter series, has a scar just above his left knee in the shape of the Tube map.

Every day over 1000 people accidentally leave something on the Tube;  some past items in include Samurai swords, false teeth, three dead bats and a 14 foot boat.

Scenes from the film Sliding Doors were shot at Waterloo station on the Waterloo & City Line and at Fulham Broadway tube station on the District Line.

The record for visiting all the stations on the Underground network – known as The Tube Challenge – is currently held by Andi James and Steve Wilson, who completed the challenge in 16 hours, 29 minutes and 13 seconds on May 27th 2011.

Wildlife observed on the Tube network includes woodpeckers, deer, sparrowhawk, bats, grass snakes, great crested newts, slow worms. 

Sting and Paul McCartney are rumoured to have busked on the Underground in disguise. 

In the latest James Bond film, Skyfall, Daniel Craig narrowly avoids being crushed by the Circle Line during a chase scene that took him through several tube stations. 

To celebrate the anniversary there is a special 150th souvenir Oyster card on sale.  These cards are limited edition and will be available to purchase from all London Underground stations.