INTRODUCTION

I received an email today about a site called tourlondon, asking me to link to them, which I am delighted to do. This little piece, in addition to the links I have put in on the home page is to set the stage for introducing you to more of their stuff. 

THE SITE

Here is a screenshot of the of the top portion of the homepage of this site:

I am delighted to connect with this site, which looks excellent to me, and I look forward to working with them in future.

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday the news came out that Uber are to lose their private hire licence in London. The decision has apparently come as a surprise to some, although the mere fact that Uber’s most recent extension was granted for a period of a mere four months, as opposed to five years should have provided a clue that the writing was on the wall for them. This piece is my official response to that decision. Although I will mainly be doing q and a stuff later in this post I am going to finish this section by answering one question – how many Uber rides have you taken? That would be a big fat zero.

THE DECISION

Here is an image of the decision and its reasons courtesy of Transport for London (note to various filthy bigots who have asumed otherwise its was TFL who made the decision, not Sadiq Khan):

 Note that this document is succinct and extremely clear about just why Uber have los their right to operate in London. Here is London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s official response to the decision:

 ANSWERS TO A FEW OF THE QUESTIONS RAISED BY OPPONENTS OF THE DECISION

What about the 40,000 low-paid workers losing their jobs? Uber go to great lengths, including fighting (and in at least one case losing) court cases to not accept their drivers as employees because that would mean giving them certain rights that as (officially) self-employed people they do not have. Some of these Uber drivers may experience hardship as a result of this decision, but in the long haul they will probably be better off. Also there is nothing to stop these people setting up a scheme of their own to run private hire vehicles – find out what TFL require of them to give them a licence and go for it. 

What are alternatives to Uber? There is an app specially for London black taxis called gett. Also the only times when there is not public transport available in London are between about 1AM and 4AM – and even in those hours some buses run. 

What about people who cannot afford to pay extra? First up, if you use gett you get a flat rate and no sudden price hikes due to extra demand as Uber do, so it probably works out fairly similar in cost. Second, look back at my answer to the question about alternatives to Uber to remind yourself of when public transport is not available – if you can afford to be out and about in London at those sort of times you are not that poor (btw, although this is not strictly relevant I am a part time minimum wage worker, so I know a thing or two about actually being poor). 

GOOD LINKS ABOUT THIS DECISION

First up, this Guardian article gives a good overview of the decision and the reasons for it. Another good general article is this one on inews. One final article providing general coverage is this from RT.

Still from yesterday we have excellent pieces from Zelo Street “Uber Licence NOT Renewed” and from Evolve Politics “Uber being stripped of their London licence signals the first nail in the coffin for the gig economy” both of which explain the wider implications of this decision. 

Today has seen more on this decision, led by the Mirror with “Uber ban by TfL raises questions about future in other cities – and is a warning to the gig economy“, Zelo Street have returned to the attack with “Uber – The Pundits Bleat” and finally, courtesy of Huffpost comes “I’m An Uber Driver And Agree With TfL – Uber Must Play By The Rules Or Get Out Of London“. This last also helps to fix the blame for Uber losing their London licence actually lies – squarely with Uber, who have had four months on notice in which to put their house in order and clean up their act, and have signally failed to do so, arrogantly believing that they are above such things as rules and laws.

FINAL WORDS

TFL have made absolutely the right decision, the only decision that in the circumstances, given Uber’s continued failure to even attempt to co-operate they could have made. Uber are a billion-dollar business, but the apparently insatiablke and limitless greed of the people who run it has finally caught up with them. If Uber want to regain their London licence there is a simple solution: do what TFL require of them to make that happen. 

INTRODUCTION

I spotted this book in King’s Lynn library and of course had to take it out. Here is the front cover:

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OVERALL IMPRESSION

The book is crammed with interesting information,  and covers every line in detail as well as going over the history and some of pre-history of London Underground. I am very glad that I did borrow it, and have enjoyed dipping into it on a regular basis while it is in my possession. However, I have some…

QUIBBLES

I am going to start with the coverage of the East London line (which was still part of London Underground when the book was published although it is not now). In covering this line Mr Halliday states tat the Brunel tunnel under the Thames is the oldest object on the system having opened as a pedestrian tunnel in 1843. I have no quibble with his dating of the tunnel, but the stations that now form the northern end of the High Barnet branch of the Northern line opened as main-line railway in 1842, one year earlier than the pedestrian tunnel.

When covering the Central line Mr Halliday fails to mention that original eastern extension of that line beyond Liverpool Street did not end as it does today at Epping, but continued to Ongar (this is another former main line railway incorporated into London Underground, and opened in that guise in 1856). This leads me to another minor area of disappointment:

OVER-ORTHODOXY

In talking about the early history of the Metropolitan Mr Halliday mentions the Brill branch and the envisaged extension of this branch to Oxford but does not seem to consider that by opening up connections at both ends this could actually have boosted the use of the line. Similarly, when mentioning the former Aldwych branch of the Piccadilly line he does not consider the possible use of this under-used branch as a starting point for an extension into southeast London and west Kent. As mentioned above I regard the failure to even mention the stations beyind Epping on the Central line as inexcusable, and this too could be a discussion point – in my own post on the Central line I have advocated an extension to Chelmsford and another connection to mainline railways. Nevertheless, for all these issues I conclude this post (apart from some more pictures) by restating that this is a very useful and interesting little book.

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INTRODUCTION

This Saturday I was in London for the day (see here for more details), and I have posted several times on this site in connection with this (here, here and here), and I am concluding my activity on this front by showing all the London Transport related photos from that day in one post.

PHOTOGRAPHS

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INTRODUCTION

On Saturday I attended an event at Student Central, formerly known as the University of London Union (ULU), on Malet Street – for more details please click here. Student Central is walkable from many stations, and as it is far more than just a student venue, this post aims to set out these various connections.

STATIONS FROM WHICH IT IS WALKABLE

Student Central is walkable from the following stations:

OTHER CONNECTIONS

For those coming into London from outside, the best routes from the main places at which you would arrive and which are not within walking distance are:

  • Finsbury Park if on a stopper from Cambridge or Peterborough – straight choice between Victoria to Euston or Piccadilly to Russell Square
  • Moorgate – Metropolitan/ Circle/ Hammersmith & City to Euston Square or Northern to Euston
  • Liverpool Street – Metropolitan/ Circle/ Hammersmith & City to Euston Square or Central to Tottenham Court Road.
  • Fenchurch Street – Circle line to Euston Square.
  • London Bridge – Northern line to Euston
  • Victoria (including the Coach Station) – Victoria line to Warren Street
  • Waterloo – Northern to Tottenham Court Road
  • Paddington – Hammersmith and City to Euston Square – do not be tempted by the fact that the District & Circle lines have a station officially designated as Paddington – the Hammersmith and City platforms are structurally part of the main station.
  • Marylebone – walk to Baker Street and get and eastbound train to Euston Square.

Here to end this post is a map showing Student Central…

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INTRODUCTION

This post features a London landmark which is particularly well served by public transport. There will be links to several other posts in appropriate places, and I have a couple of satellite maps to share as well.

ABOUT THE INSTITUTE

Although it was independent for a long time, the Institute of Education is now part of University College London’s (UCL) seemingly ever expanding empire (UCL owned/ run buildings nowadays occupy a significant proportion of Bloomsbury). More information about what is generally available at this particular site can be found here. Although I visited the institute a few times in connection with an autism research project for which I was a subject my main involvement with the place has been by way of the Marxism Festival which has made use of this building for all save a few of the years since I first attended it (in 1995, when I was on the team). Back then we used only three venues in the building for meetings, the Logan, Jeffery and Elvin halls. This year, when the institute was one of only two buildings used for the festival (the other bieng the Royal National Hotel, across Bedford Way) these venues were augmented as meeting rooms by Clarke Hall, Nunn Hall, and various rooms on the upper floors (including one set aside as a designated quiet space). For more about the most recent incarnation of this festival click here.

THE TRANSPORT CONNECTIONS

While the closest station by some margin is Russell Square on the Piccadilly line, Euston and Euston Square are both also within ten minutes walk (Northern, Victoria, Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines, London Overground and National Rail between them), with Warren Street (Northern and Victoria) and Goodge Street (Northern) also near at hand, and King’s Cross comfortably walkable (as I can confirm from experience). In addition to the above, Euston station has out front what is effectively a bus station, and buses travel from there to most parts of London.

TWO SATELLITE VIEWS

To end this post here are two satellite views obatined by use of google maps, first one showing the transport connections in the close vicinity of the building:

IOE and local stations.

And a closer view shwoing the building in more detail:

IOE Close Up

The institute numbers its floors (or levels as they call them), starting at 1 and ascending. Bedford Way adjoins level three, while the courtyard on the other side gives access to level four.

INTRODUCTION

This post features a hub station which is also close to numerous attractions.

THE HISTORY

Like all of London’s major railway stations this one has its origins in the mid 19th century. This map shows London Bridge and its connections in 1897…

This is an extract focussing on London Bridge.

This is an extract focussing on London Bridge.

This is the full map.

This is the full map.

In 1900 The City & South London Railway, the world’s first deep level ‘tube’ railway abandoned its badly sited King William Street terminus and opened three new stations at its northern end, London Bridge, Bank and Moorgate (for more about the subsequent history of this railway and what it became click here. In 1999, delayed and warped out of recognition by the greed and vanity of successive governments, the Jubilee line opened its long-awaited extension, one of the new stations on which was London Bridge. London Bridge was until recently part of the Thameslink route but is no longer so. These days there is an interchange available to Transport for London’s Riverboat Service as well. 

TWO ATTRACTIONS

There are two major attractions served by London Bridge. HMS Belfast is a historic warship, which for many years has been a floating museum (I visited several times as a child) and is now run under the aegis of the Imperial War Museum. The second attraction is the London Dungeon, which occupies what was once the notorious Clink Street Prison (from which the phrase ‘in the clink’ for ‘in prison’ comes) and styles itself London’s most frightening place.

RIVERSIDE WALKING

London Bridge is ideally placed as a starting and/or finishing point for walks along the Thames. Westward as far as Waterloo is all good walking, while eastward lie Maritime Greenwich and, for the seriously energetic, Woolwich. This, from 100 Walks in Greater London, is a recommneded walk featuring some of what I have just mentioned…

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Note that the Museum of the Moving Image has closed down since this book was produced.

AN AUCTION LOT

This, conveniently tallying with the theme of this post, is lot 604 in James and Sons‘ March Auction (two day sale, 30th and 31st March at Fakenham Racecourse – this item will be going under the hammer early in the second day)…

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A FEW MAPS

I conclude this post with two map pictures, one from the Diagrammatic History and one from a modern London Connections Map…

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INTRODUCTION

The full title of the book is “The Subterranean Railway: How The London Underground was Built and How it Changed the City Forever”, and the author is Christian Wolmar.

A COMPREHENSIVE ACCOUNT

As well as providing a superb account of the development of London Underground, and the effect that this had on the city, Wolmar’s book also gives due coverage the alternative railway ideas that were proposed (and in the case of the atmospheric railway at Crystal Palace actually built) around the same time.

All the good stories are there, from Charles Pearson, Edward Watkin and Robert Selbie through Charles Tyson Yerkes (who in the first decade of the 20th century raised a cool £18 million for tube building projects) and on to the days of public ownership. There are also some excellent illustrations.

This proposed idea of a railway running above people's  heads and along the sides of buildings did not get beyond the drawing board.

This proposed idea of a railway running above people’s heads and along the sides of buildings did not get beyond the drawing board.

The atmospheric railway at Crystal Palace.

The atmospheric railway at Crystal Palace.

An early station.

An early station.

The Greathead shield, used for the making of deep-level tube lines.

The Greathead shield, used for the making of deep-level tube lines.

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Piccadilly Circus, above and below ground.

Piccadilly Circus, above and below ground.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend to anyone with an interest in public transport.

GETTING HOLD OF THE BOOK

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As so often, I obtained my copy from the library, but for those who prefer buying to borrowing it is available via Book Depository for £9.98 with free worldwide delivery

INTRODUCTION

A continuation of my series of posts about the lines the make up London Underground. My last post in this category was this purely speculative effort.

RED TRAINS AND FLUCTUATIONS

The Baker Street and Waterloo railway opened in 1906, running initially from Lambeth North (originally called Westminster Bridge Road) to Baker Street. By 1910 it had been extended to run from Elephant and Castle to Edgware Road. “The Elephant” as it is colloquially known remains the southern terminus to this day, but the line was extended north in stages, to Paddington in 1913, Queens Park where it rose to the surface in 1915, and then running over mainline tracks, with “compromise” height (see Project Piccadilly for more detail) platforms on to Watford Junction, to which services started running in 1917.

For 22 years this remained the way of things, but the Metropolitan line’s inner reaches were becoming badly congested, and so in 1939 a new branch was opened, diverging from Baker Street to St John’s Wood, Swiss Cottage and Finchley Road, at which point it came to the surface and took over the intermediate stations between Finchley Road and Wembley Park, and also the Stanmore branch beyond Wembley Park.

The Bakerloo continued to run on these lines, with two branches to Watford Junction and Stanmore for 40 years, but over time it began to suffer from congestion, and a new tube line, planned as part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations and hence called the Jubilee line was opened in 1979, running from Charing Cross to Green Park, Bond Street and Baker Street, at which point it took over the Stanmore branch of the Bakerloo.

In 1982 the remaining branch was cut back from Watford Junction to Queens Park, before being gradually re-extended as far as Harrow and Wealdstone (the current northern terminus). Here are some maps to help you get to grips with these developments…

London Underground in 1910 (the first five of these pics all come from The Spread of London's Underground

London Underground in 1910 (the first five of these pics all come from The Spread of London’s Underground

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ROLLING STOCK ROUND TRIP

When I first travelled on the Bakerloo line it still had red painted trains while every other line was running unpainted rolling stock. These red trains were the last of the 1938 stock, the very last one of which was withdrawn from service in 1985. Post WWII aluminium stock was introduced, and because aluminium dooes not corrode there is no necessity to paint it (or so people thought). The problem (apart from the fact that plain unpainted aluminium is boring and ugly) is that large basically white surfaces were taken as an invitation by graffiti artists, and although the spray paint could be washed off it left a ‘ghost’ behind it. Thus, the practice of painting rolling stock was reintroduced, although rather than being solid colour, it is nowadays in the corporate livery of London Underground. For those who wish to see what the 1938 stock was like, there is a carriage of that stock that you can look around at the London Transport Museum, Covent Garden.

SPECULATIONS

This will be a brief section giving in outline of possible extensions of this line. The Elephant and Castle terminus is well positioned for a south-easterly extension towards Maidstone (see my post on the Central line for the significance of Maidstone in my overall vision). At the northern end of the line I would reinstate services to Watford Junction and then project Bakerloo line services further over the branch line that runs from Watford Junction to St Albans Abbey, tying in with the northern part of the route of my envisioned London Orbital Railway which would run a faster service, stopping only at Garston between Watford and St Albans. I might have a 50:50 split of Bakerloo services at Watford Junction, with the other half running again alongside the Orbital railway to Rickmansworth. Here are a couple of maps and a postcard for you…

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The modern map in full detail.

The modern map in full detail.

The branch line I propose to subsume into an extended Bakerloo, with an indication the route to be followed by the Orbital Railway in this scheme.

The branch line I propose to subsume into an extended Bakerloo, with an indication the route to be followed by the Orbital Railway in this scheme.

THE PRESENT

We have looked at the past and at my vision for the future, so now it is back to the present, and we will be taking a journey along the line from Elephant & Castle to Harrow & Wealdstone.

ELEPHANT AND CASTLE

The current southern terminus of the line, offering interchanges with the Northern line, Thameslink and South Eastern. To find out more about this location follow this link.

LAMBETH NORTH

This is one of only two stations on the stretch from Elephant and Castle to Baker Street that has no interchanges at all. It is the local station for the Imperial War Museum.

WATERLOO

A massive transport hub, which I covered in full detail on aspiblog and which I now reproduce here:

INTRODUCTION

This is the latest post in my series providing a station by station guide to London. Previous posts in the series can be viewed on the following link. Enjoy…

THE SOUTH BANK OF THE THAMES

Waterloo has more main line train platforms than any other station in the country, is served by four underground lines (all ‘tube’ rather than ‘surface’). The Waterloo and City line, originally run as part of the London & South West Railway, opened for business in 1898 making it the second oldest of London’s deep level tube lines after the City and South London Railway (now part of the Northern line). The Bakerloo line opened in 1906, the second underground line to serve Waterloo. A southbound extension of the Charing Cross, Euston & Hamsptead line to enable an amalgamation with the City and South London to form today’s Northern line took place in 1926, making it the third underground line to serve Waterloo. Finally, in 1999 the Jubilee line was extended via Waterloo, although the original intent to serve the still under-equipped parts of south east London and west Kent has been warped by a combination of greed and vanity about which more in my next post.

Waterloo is as the above makes clear a major interchange. It is also a superb destination in its own right, being home to The Old Vic theatre, The Royal Festival Hall, The complex of the Purcell Room and the Queen Elizabeth Hall (please note that these two venues are currently closed for maintenance work and will not be reopening before 2017), The National Film Theatre, The National Theatre,  besides serving as a good starting point for a walk along the Thames which depending on how energetic you are feeling could be stop at Southwark (Jubilee line), Blackfriars (District, Circle and main line railways), London Bridge (Northern, Jubilee, main line railways) or even further east.

See also my post on the District line which gives this station a passing mention.

EMBANKMENT

I covered this station from a District line perspective in the post referred to above. However, I missed one landmark when talking about it there: Cleopatra’s Needle, one of three Egyptian obelisks now adorning major global cities – its fellows can be seen in Paris and New York.

CHARING CROSS

This station takes its name from the memorials the Edward I built for his wife Eleanor, the Eleanor Crosses, of which Charing Cross is easily the most famous. Officially there is an interchange to the Northern line here as well as to mainline railways, but the interchanges at Waterloo and Embankment are both better options. The only reason for an interchange being shown is that when the Jubilee line opened in 1979 its southern terminus was at this station, and it offered an interchange with both lines. Originally, the Northern line station was called Strand and the Bakerloo, Trafalgar Square.

Although these posters were originally produced to advertise mainline railways, both feature Trafalgar Square.

Although these posters were originally produced to advertise mainline railways, both feature Trafalgar Square.

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Charing Cross is also famous as the centre of the 10 Km radius circle within which London Taxi drivers must be familiar with everything (this is called The Knowledge, an expression believed to be derived from Sherlock Holmes, who in The Adventure of the Red Headed League told Watson “it is a hobby of mine to have an exact knowledge of London”).

PICCADILLY CIRCUS

The only interchange between the Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines. This is also one of the stations that serves London’s Theatreland. You can also see the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, colloquially known as the Eros Statue here. Finally, this is an area London notorious for its bright lights…

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OXFORD CIRCUS

I mentioned this station in my piece about the Central Line. From a Bakerloo perspective, this station offers the only interchange between this line and the Victoria line, and it is a cross-platform interchange, one of two on this line. When this line was built, the company building it deliberately followed the line of the road, in this case Regent Street, to avoid paying easements to property owners beneath whom they passed. The resultant curve is really too tight for trains and means that speed is restricted on this part of the route.

REGENTS PARK

The other station on this line south of Baker Street to have no interchanges. It is one of two stations (the other being Camden Town on the Northern line) to serve London Zoo.

BAKER STREET

I covered this in a full-length post a while back, but before sharing that link, I need to correct an error in that post. The building that used by the London Planetarium is now owned by Madame Tussaud’s and used for an entirely different purpose. To see the Planetarium you now need to visit the Royal Observatory, walkable from either Cutty Sark (DLR) or Greenwich (mainline railways). Finally, this station is the second at which the Bakerloo has a cross-platform interchange, in this case with the Jubilee, which after all was created to take over the Stanmore branch of the Bakerloo.

MARYLEBONE

An interchange with Chiltern Railways, and trains to Aylesbury and Birmingham. The other interchanges between London Underground and this network are at Harrow-on-the-Hill (Metropolitan) and West Ruislip (Central).

EDGWARE ROAD

Very briefly the northern terminus of the line.

PADDINGTON

I have previously produced a full length post about this station.

PADDINGTON

THREE STATIONS BECOME ONE

Paddington was one the original seven stations that opened as The Metropolitan Railway on January 10th 1863 – it was the western terminus of the line, although right from the start there were track links to the Great Western Railway, which supplied the Metropolitan with rolling stock before it developed its own. In 1864 the western terminus became Hammersmith, over the route of today’s Hammersmith and City line, and the origins of the station can still be seen because the H&C platforms are structurally part of the mainline station, although ticket barriers now intervene between them and the rest. The second set of London Underground platforms to be opened at Paddington were also originally opened by the Metropolitan, although they are now served by the Circle and the Edgware Road branch of the District line. They opened in 1868 as Paddington (Praed Street) – as opposed to Paddington (Bishop’s Road), the original 1863 station. In 1913 a northern extension of the Bakerloo line included a deep level station at Paddington. By 1948 the suffixes of both ‘surface’ stations had been dropped, and all three sets of platforms were known simply as Paddington.

A LITERARY DISAPPOINTMENT

In 2013, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Metropolitan Railway Penguin brought out a series of books, one for each line. I wrote about all of these books at the time, but I am going to mention Philippe Parreno’s “effort” about the Hammersmith and City line again. Given the line that contains all seven of the original 1863 stations Mr Parreno produced a book that contained no words, just a series of pictures. Had these pictures been meaningful and clearly associated with the line and its stations this might have been acceptable, but these pictures were blurry and meaningless (it was barely even possible to tell what they were supposed to be of).

OTHER LITERARY ASSOCIATIONS

Of course, when thinking of Paddington’s literary associations the one that springs instantly to mind is that with the fictional world’s best known refugee: Paddington Bear. Also however, Dr Watson (see “Baker Street” in this same series) had his first practice here after moving out of Baker Street to set up home with his wife (see A Scandal in Bohemia for more details).

Additionally Paddington is home to London’s Floating Bookshop.

I also mentioned one aspect of this station in my post on the District line:

PADDINGTON (PRAED STREET)

Why have I given this station a suffix that does not feature in it’s current title? Because the current plain “Paddington” designation is misleading – although the interchange to the Bakerloo line’s Paddington is a sensible one to have, you do far better for the mainline station and Hammersmith & City line to go on one stop to Edgware Road, make a quick cross-platform change to the Hammersmith & City and arrive at platforms that are structurally part of the mainline railway station (the two extra stops – one in each direction – plus a cross platform interchange taking less long between them than the official interchange up to the mainline station from here. Therefore to avoid misleading people the title of this station should either by given a suffix or changed completely, and the only interchange that should be shown is that with the Bakerloo. I have previously given Paddington a full post to itself, but failed to make the foregoing points with anything approaching sufficient force.

WARWICK AVENUE, MAIDA VALE
AND KILBURN PARK

These three stations are the last stations that the Bakerloo calls at before rising to the surface. Maida Vale is notable for this mosaic version of one of the world’s best known logos:

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QUEENS PARK

This is where the Bakerloo line rises to the surface and joins mainline railways for the rest of its northward course. To the north of this station the Bakerloo line passes through a train shed – the only such journey a passenger can make on London Underground.

WILLESDEN JUNCTION

This is a station on two levels. At the lower level are the Bakerloo line platforms and those served by train services running to Watford, the midlands and the north-west and also south to Kensington Olympia, Clapham Junction and beyond. At the higher level are platforms carrying London Overground services on a route that nowadays runs between Richmond and Stratford, although it used have a terminus at North Woolwich. The Stratford – North Woolwich section is now part of the Docklands Light Railway, with a small extension across the Thames to Woolwich Arsenal.

HARROW AND WEALDSTONE

The current northern terminus. Also, the first stop out of Euston for services terminating at Milton Keynes.

BOOKS AND MAPS

The modern London Connections and London & Southeast Map can be picked up free from various locations.

 

The Spread of London`s Underground

The Spread of London’s Underground can be obtained from The London Transport Museum for £8.95

 

The current edition of London Underground: A Diagrammatic History can be obtained from Stanfords for £8.95