A gaping problem

When taking my daughter for her first job interview, we were sitting on the tube when a drunk sitting opposite awoke to the announcement “Mind the Gap”. Our slumbering passenger then started to doze off again, until that is, we reached a later stop and upon hearing the Mind the Gap announced a second time declared to the rest of the carriage “Blimy! That bloke gets around”.

[T]HE ORIGINAL MIND THE GAP announcement which had awoken our slumbering friend was first heard in 1968 when AEG Telefunken supplied the recording of an unknown actor, unfortunately, the fellow had insisted on being paid a royalty every time his voice was heard. Unsurprisingly that recording was scrubbed and re-recorded by someone cheaper.

Sound engineer Peter Lodge then took up the baton and his sound tests proved so popular with the powers that be it was decided that his own voice should be the announcement broadcast.

Listen to the 12th Earl of Portland

The Earl of Portland was a title bestowed on the first Earl for mopping the fevered brow of King William III who at that time was struck down with smallpox. The 12th and current Earl can be heard on the Piccadilly Line, his Mind the Gap announcement earning him the princely sum of £200. He is best known as the actor who plays David Archer in Radio 4’s The Archers.

The gap problem like so much these days can be blamed on London’s bankers. When tunnelling commenced early in the last century, engineers were concerned that the excavations would undermine the City’s banks. It was decided, where possible, to tunnel beneath the roads, many of which followed their Medieval routes.

As a consequence despite billions being spent on planning, building, refurbishing and rebuilding our trains just don’t fit the stations. Passengers on the Central line at Bank are regularly reminded of this fundamental flaw in the Tube system.

The sharpest bend

This fear of being sued by powerful property owners has meant Bank station has one of the sharpest bends on the Tube network. This sharp bend has even become represented on John Beck’s iconic Tube map where the station’s given its own unique kink. There is even some speculation the bend had to be made even sharper so the tunnel didn’t end up in the Bank of England’s vaults.

The company clearly didn’t fear the church though because it gained permission to demolish St. Mary Woolnoth. A public outcry prevented this but it still dug up all the bodies in the crypt to build lift shafts.
A version of this post was published by CabbieBlog on 9th October 2012

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