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The London Underground, 1968-1985 (Hardback)

The Greater London Council Years

Transport > London Transport Transport > Trains & Railways

By Jim Blake
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781399055635
Published: 2nd November 2023


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LONDON’S HISTORIC, iconic Underground railway system in the period from 1968 to 1985 was a very different place to what it is in the 2020s. Much of its rolling stock dated from before World War Two, and with the exception of the new Victoria Line and the isolated Woodford to Hainault shuttle, trains were all two-person operated as the 1970s dawned.

Transport photographer Jim Blake recorded most of the system on film before it would change forever, concentrating on the older rolling stock as well as other items of interest due for replacement or modernisation, during this period when, regrettably, London Transport was often starved of much-needed funds by central government. The eminently sensible transfer of overall control of London’s buses and Underground system to the city-wide Greater London Council at the beginning of 1970 was snatched away by the Thatcher regime in 1984, after which things rapidly went downhill. This book covers the years of GLC control, including the months prior to their taking charge in order to set the scene.

Many rare and unusual scenes are included in this volume, especially of the then still basically intact portion of the uncompleted Northern Line extension between Drayton Park and Highgate, which had been so close to completion when work was halted during the war, but then abandoned in the early 1950s, incurring much wasted work and expenditure.

For anyone with a serious interest in London’s Underground, this book is essential reading, including as it does many pervious unpublished photographs.

"If you are a London Underground enthusiast, railway historian or London Transport modeller this is a must-have book."

Tenterden Terrier

"This is a very interesting book if you're interested in the Underground..."

National Railway Museum Review – The Journal of the Friends of the National Railway Museum – No186, Winter 2023/24

Interesting, well researched and well written. Plenty of illustrations

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

I thought that the information given for the photographs was informative & I enjoy seeing snapshots of everyday life of transport in the recent past. I especially liked the photographs from the stations which were no longer used - I could read a whole book about deserted/unused railway stations.

NetGalley, Gayle Noble

The underground is such a big part of London’s society and economy that a book like this will appeal beyond transportation enthusiasts. The author takes a relatively niche topic and makes it appealing and accessible to many.

NetGalley, Louise Gray

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Lovely collection of photos with commentary that adds value by including snippets of history and anecdotes relevant to each picture. This is not a history so don’t expect a chronological or deep account of the development of the London Underground during this period. Nevertheless I learned a lot by browsing through this and as someone who grew up in London it brought back many memories. The author loves his trains (and buses) and this collection is a great one if you share his interest.

NetGalley, Ryszard Hermaszewski

This book contains great photos & the detailed captions show that the author is really knowledgeable. If you are a train and/or underground enthusiast you will want this book in your collection.

NetGalley, Amber Johnson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Excellent and fascinating history of the Underground in the period when the greatest variety of rolling stock was on the rails, with the author's own photos.

NetGalley, Vanessa Rivington

It was great to have the opportunity to learn more history of the London underground. I was recently in London and travelling on the tube so it was amazing to see the changed it has gone through.

NetGalley, Abi Davies

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An incredible collection of photographs detailing the changes of the London Underground during almost two decades. A fascinating book!

NetGalley, Rachel M
 Jim Blake

About Jim Blake

JIM BLAKE was born in December 1947 and brought up in Islington, North London. As did most young lads then, he soon developed an interest in railways, but also London's trams, trolleybuses and buses since North London's last two tram routes ran near his home, at the heart of London Transport's trolleybus system. His interest developed into transport photography in 1961 and he took over 100,000 photos before retiring his cameras in 2015. He still lives in North London today.

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