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Analyse the impact of the transport revolution on Victorian London

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Analyse the impact of the transport revolution on Victorian London In the centuries before the 19th century there had been little change or improvement in the ways which people travelled around. However, 19th century Britain - in particular London - witnessed a period of huge social, economic and political change and also an unprecedented explosion in the population of London - a population which would grow seven-fold from one million by the end of the century1. It quickly became apparent that new forms of public transport were necessary in order to accommodate the vast physical expansion of London which accompanied the population growth. The transport revolution hugely affected the capital and helped determine the growth, shape and status of the city as we know it today. At the turn of the 19th century, there was no recognised public transport system. There was the horse and carriage and ferry boats but these were reserved for the rich and the rest had to get around by foot. People had to live within walking distance to their workplace and since many of the poor were directly dependent on the better off for their employment, the upper and lower classes often lived side by side on the same streets and districts. ...read more.


Thus, the building of the world's first underground railway went underway. The Metropolitan Line was opened in 1863, built on the "cut and cover" principle a few feet underground under existing wide streets such as the Marylebone Road. It was also the first proper urban passenger railway and linked the major railway terminals together, that is, Paddington, Euston, King's Cross and from 1867, St. Pancra's and provided passengers easier and quicker access to the city. It proved an immediate success, and the Metropolitan Railway Company boasted 12 million passengers in the first year along its four mile length8. Later, a rival company built the District Line, which ran across the south of London linking some railways terminals there and also proved to be a success. But underground tunnels and stations were lengthy and expensive to build, and both companies extended their lines towards the outer limits of London in search of more customers. The Metropolitan Line extensions went towards north west of London, into distant areas such as Harrow, Pinner and Aylesbury; the District Line extended its lines further west of London. Thus although these underground lines cannot be entirely responsible for creating new suburbs, they nevertheless played an important part in the physical expansion of London. ...read more.


It changed the physical structures of London and it displaced many people from their homes, and left them to look for somewhere to live further out in the city. In facilitating the growth of London and it's suburbs, the transport revolution encouraged the segregation of classes to different districts as far apart as the far east end and west end of London. The introduction of workman's fares valid for travel at peak times on the railways, cheap tram fares, and high cost of omnibuses, kept the different classes to a distance, much to the upper classes relief. Though for all its failures for improving the social situation of London, the railways and the rest of the transport story kept London viable as a commercial centre, fit for being the Capital of the United Kingdom, and gave suburbia a new lease of life11. 1 H. Clout, The Times History of London, 1999, p.84 2 Clout, op. cit., p80 3 ibid., p80 4 Anthony Gorst's 19th Century London course lecture notes, 2003 5 F. Sheppard, London A History, 1998, p265 6 D. J. Olsen, The Growth of Victorian London, 1976, p.42 7 Barker and Robbins, 1963-74, i. 65-6; Sheppard, 1971, 138-9. In Sheppard, op. cit., p265 8 Anthony Gorst, op. cit. 9 ibid. 10 Sheppard, op. cit., p.267 11 Port, p.283. in Anthony Gorst, op. cit. - 1 - ...read more.

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