The History of the London Underground Map by Caroline Roope

The History of the London Underground Map by Caroline Roope* is a good book, it covers both the history of the map and some of the history of the building of the tube too.

I wanted to read this book because I love the tube’s map. When I visited London for the first time, in 2013, a friend told me to use an app to get around. I thought it was strange, I would much rather look at the map and figure it out for myself. Especially as the app will not take into account how easy is to change lines. So, I never installed the app and always used the map instead. After visiting London at least once every year and commuting regularly to London in the last two, I am so familiar with the map that I knew where to alight from a train (had no coverage, so I couldn’t use maps) just by looking at the tube’s map on the phone (in pdf). The tube map is iconic and so clear, this is why it’s still the best way to show the tube stations and lines.

The History of the London Underground Map by Caroline Roope

The map is so well known today, but it might have not be picked up. It involved a lot of work and commitment. I like that Roope covered topics such as the tube used as a shelter in the world wars. Each chapter is only a few pages long, so there is a lot of information, but without getting into too much detail.

Some of the remarks in the book are funny, such as why people needed to move fast to get on or alight. There are details on advertising at the tube. There are also details on how the tube was advertised and why it opened new stations, which is fascinating. Even fares are talked about and one approach in the 1920s is very similar to what kind of fares are promoted these days, 100 years later. For me the book deserves 5 stars, without any doubt.

The History of the London Underground Map by Caroline Roope

Details about the picture: at the tube station, only appropriate indeed
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Pen & Sword Transport
Year it was published: 2022
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): Broad subject – History
Pages: 216

About the author: Caroline Roope is a freelance writer, specialising in social history and genealogy. She contributes regularly to Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, Best of British, Discover Your Ancestors Periodical and Discover Your Ancestors Bookazine, writing on social history topics as diverse as Scalextric to Victorian cross-dressing. Following an MA with Distinction in Heritage Management she spent over ten years working in the heritage and museums sector, for small scale independent charities as well as the National Trust and English Heritage and is published academically in the International Journal of Intangible Heritage.
Website & Social Media Links: Pen and Sword

*I was sent a copy of The History of the London Underground Map by Caroline Roope for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

4 thoughts on “The History of the London Underground Map by Caroline Roope”

  • I have to admit, that travelling to London so infrequently these days, the underground is not one of my favourite places, and if I am being totally honest, probably never was! However, I do enjoy reading historical facts about some of these iconic landmarks and systems. I’m sure I have this book on my shelves somewhere, but I have also read the book about the London sewer system, which was fascinating! Definitely not an app in sight for me, I hate them, although hubby will use them. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Yvonne @Fiction_Books recently posted…The DilemmaBy Julia RobertsBooks On TourReviewMy Profile

    • I’m not keen on apps as a rule, because of privacy concerns, but with the tube I think it’s just bad not to use this fantastic map for guidance. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • It doesn’t surprise me that there’s an app for it now. I like maps, though, and agree it’s very clear and easy to navigate. I think I would enjoy this book and I bet my SIL would, too. I might see if it’s something I could reasonably get him as a Christmas gift.
    Kelly recently posted…Mellow mid-week musicMy Profile

    • I think the app is pointless. For visitors, looking at the map is part of the experience, it should be fun to figure it out. While Londoners should be used to using the tube anyway. There are enough maps to glance when using a new line.
      This would make for a nice Christmas gift indeed, maybe with a tube map puzzle or tea towel, a nice combo. ๐Ÿ™‚

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