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!”
Possibly 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!”
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.”
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?
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.