Just a few cartoons that I recently acquired about the London Underground that were published in Punch Magazine at the start of the last century.

Apart from the jokes, which may or may not work a hundred years after they were written, cartoons do serve as a window into the prejudices and concerns of the time in a way that is often overlooked by the sombre history books.

I quite like satirical comics for that reason.

 

A BRIGHT OUTLOOK (Aug 9th 1909)

Mother (in the Tube) “STOP FIDGETING, ‘ORACE, – OR YOU SHAN’T LOOK OUT OF THE WINDOW!”

A Bright OutlookPossibly also a reference to the early Northern Line (City and South London) that ran for a very short time without windows, in the understandable presumption that with nothing to look at, what is the point of windows. They were a huge failure, and ever since, we have windows.


SKILFUL DRIVING (Jul 21st 1909)

First Irishman (in London Tube). “SURE AN’ ‘TIS A MIGHTY STRANGE WAY OF TRAVELLING”
Second Irishman. “BEDAD, ‘TIS A WONDER WE DON’T SHTRIKE AND BURST SOME WATHER-PIPE!”

Skilful drivingHmm, not really sure about the humour in this one – maybe something that can be put down to the cultural stereotypes of the time?


BOTH WAYS (Sept 22nd 1909)

Tube-Lift Man. “IT SAYS ‘NO SMOKING’ – CAN’T YOU READ?”
Wag. “PARDON ME – IT SAYS ‘SMOKE P.P.C’, AND THAT’S WHAT I’M DOING.”

No smoking in the liftA bit of a joke about the huge abundance of advertising on the tube at the time – with almost every surface covered in posters, often advertising cigarettes – and the ban on smoking in the lifts.


CIRCLE LINE MERRY-GO-ROUND (Nov 1th 1911)

THE MOVING STAIRCASE SEEMS TO BE A GREAT SUCCESS AT EARL’S COURT STATION. WHY NOT GO IN FOR OTHER ATTRACTIONS? WHY NOT TURN THE INNER CIRCLE INTO ONE VAST MERRY-GO-ROUND?

Circle Line Mery-go-round

Maybe a dig at the new fangled escalator as something the cartoonist thinks is a pointless waste – so why not expand such frivolity to the rest of the network.

That said, the idea was seriously considered once, as this amazing news film from 1924 shows.

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1 Comment

  1. Kit Green

    A London based experiment come ride was this one:
    http://www.britishpathe.com/video/never-stop-railway

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