Old Images of the London Underground Victoria Line

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Glimpse the past through old images of the London Underground Victoria Line, built during the 1960s.

Building the Victoria Line 1965

When this 1965 newsreel starts, we see one of the bomb sites left over from World War II which had ended twenty years before. Such sites were now quickly disappearing under the modern buildings springing up in London, shown in the introduction.

And part of the redevelopment of London at the time included the new London Underground Victoria Line, to run from Victoria to Walthamstow, ten miles away. It was the first new London Underground railway line to be built for 35 years.

70 feet below Cavendish Square, the construction men work without any safety equipment, not even a pair of gloves. Later we see them smoking as they work, and near the end one man even gets hit by falling clay.

They manually push and hoist huge carts full of clay up to the surface, through tunnels down below Oxford Circus.

The clay is extracted with shovels and pneumatic drills, so the small teams dig out just 10 feet between the various shifts over a 20 hour working day.

The project required 23 miles of single track tunnel, plus 12 stations, with 11 of them intersecting with other lines.

At 2:11 there’s a nice pan round Cavendish Square, where people lounge in the hot sunshine while the construction workers move heavy equipment around.

We then see a small team placing huge metal rings into the structure of the tunnel, and they have to be inch perfect with every job, despite the lack of technical equipment.

The Victoria Line (1965) – British Pathé on YouTube

Stage One Opens 1968

When Stage 1 of London Underground’s Victoria Line opened in 1968, its terminal points were Walthamstow and Highbury, which took 14 minutes.

This short film item shows the wall decoration at Seven Sisters, inspired by local history.

It was intended that the new Victoria Line, when open, would carry 25,000 passengers in each direction, to help alleviate the rush hour pressure on the underground across the West End.

Victoria Line Opened (1968) – British Pathé on YouTube

Queen Opens the Victoria Line 1969

When Queen Elizabeth II opened Stage 3 of London Underground’s Victoria Line on 7th March 1969, she took what was only her second tube journey in her life.

The previous one had been 30 years earlier.

She was the first reigning monarch to ride the London Underground.

At Green Park, she inspected one of the 34 new silver trains, and pressed a button to set it in motion.

Wearing her fur coat, the Queen remained at the controls until they reached the next station, Oxford Circus.

For the return journey, Her Majesty sat in the passenger section of the train.

In 1969, it was intended that the whole of the Victoria Line could be built by the early 1970s, would cost a total of £70 million, and would cover Walthamstow to Brixton.

Queen Opens New Victoria Line (1969) – British Pathé on YouTube

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