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London Underground in the 80s
July 20, 2013 4:51 AM   Subscribe

Amazing photos of the London Underground in the 1980s. Second set.

Strange and wonderful to see how different it looks compared to now. Also the rest of the blog is a very nice slice of London.
posted by litleozy (41 comments total) 66 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awesome! Cue the Jam.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:03 AM on July 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


Great photos. So many stories behind them. I liked Lord Mustard.
posted by arcticseal at 5:04 AM on July 20, 2013


Nice. Good to see a reminder of the legendarily terrifying platform as it used to be at Angel station - two electrified tracks separated by a strip of maybe 8 feet in width, no guard rails, crowds of maybe 1000 or more.
posted by colie at 5:23 AM on July 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wow these pictures really bring it all back... it was much rougher back then on the Tube - it all seems so sanitised these days. I love all the young peoples' fashions - these days they're all clones of each other. Awesome post - incredible photographs. I am reminded of Martin Parr and his seaside pics...
posted by Monkeymoo at 5:49 AM on July 20, 2013


Cue the Jam.

Encore!
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:52 AM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Good times.... er...
posted by Segundus at 6:02 AM on July 20, 2013


The London Underground is not a political movement!

Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up.
posted by Gelatin at 6:19 AM on July 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


I like the expression of the guy who is not involved in the hijinx here. He has a kind of long-suffering "what the fuck are you people up to; I am trying to get home" look. I sympathize with him.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:58 AM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seeing the title of the post, for a moment I thought it'd be about the excellent 80's band London Underground. The pics match their music quite well by the way.
posted by Kosmob0t at 7:19 AM on July 20, 2013


It's cool to see people smoking on the platform and inside the cars! Unimaginable today.
posted by three blind mice at 7:30 AM on July 20, 2013


This blog is so cool, thanks for posting!
posted by Salamander at 7:41 AM on July 20, 2013


It's cool to see people smoking on the platform and inside the cars! Unimaginable today.

It's all fun and games until sadly you die in an horrific inferno. Though I do kinda miss the old clanking clattering wooden escalators. (Even taken into the fact I fell down one when I was little)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:54 AM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Brilliant. These practically smell of the Tube in the olden days (damp pub carpet, ashtray, piss, rancid chip fat).

these days they're all clones of each other

But almost all the best fashion you could see on the street in the '80s involved people dressing up like clones of each other! Like the cheeky wee suedeheads from the first set of pics.

I'm a bit disappointed there aren't more snaps of the beautifully-dressed clonepeople I used to gaze upon with awe as a child in the '80s, to be honest - skins, casuals, scooter boys, mods, rude boys, &c., &c..

If there's one thing people in the UK do well, it's inventing smart uniforms to wear while dancing to music from America or Jamaica, or both. If you gloss over the whole 'and then sometimes deciding to wear those exact same smart uniforms while, perversely and confusingly, being massive racist shitbags' thing, admittedly. And the not-unrelated 'inventing smart uniforms to wear while meting out awful violence to similarly dressed people' thing. Perhaps 'do well' isn't quite the right way to put it, now that I think about it.
posted by jack_mo at 8:18 AM on July 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


These are great - thanks for posting! They still had the trains with the wooden floors and bench seats on the District line my first few years here. They were around until 2006 or 7 I think, absolutely rickety and with fag burn marks in the plastic. The tube is so clean and sanitised now.
posted by goo at 9:03 AM on July 20, 2013


Ahhh nostalgia. When we lived in Yorkshire, the company my father worked for promised us we would spend a year in London at the end of his tour. All I wanted was to be awesome and ride the Tube. Then the oil bust came and all my fantasies of wandering around London on my own came to an abrupt halt.

Still, I remember wandering around London with my mother on weekenders in the early 80s fondly, and this brings it all back.
posted by immlass at 9:09 AM on July 20, 2013


In the mid-80s, I lived in HIghgate, which is on the Northern Line. It's also the point at which that branch of the Northern Line goes underground (most of the London Underground is in fact over ground, but is separate from the London Overground, the collective name for the bits of standard railway that Transport for London is steadily amassing as it grows in power and extent - but that's another story).

Moreover, it's an unusually long journey underground between Highgate and Archway, the station to the south. Regular late night users of the Underground who are also fans of drinking will come to subconsciously calibrate their need to respond to their bodies' desire to rid itself of inbibatory consequences by the regular passage of stations; if you can hold on two and a half minutes, you'll be OK. The Archway-Highgate stretch, at roughly double that, can catch people out.

As it did me, one sweltering summer's evening, when I was returning from a leaving party thrown in my honour by a magazine on which I had worked. I was young, I was foolish, I was very thirsty. Odd, I thought, as I was transported home, I don't remember the Northern Line having loop-the-loops in it...

By Archway, I was in some distress. The saliva was rising, the stomach was clenching, the familiar sequence was well under way. But Archway was rough in the 1980s. It still is, but not as bad - the IRA pub next to the station ("You'll be making a donation for the lads, then?") has closed, as have at least some of the brothels. I elected to take my chances with the Ligne du Nord.

I almost made it. As I was getting out of the carriage at Highgate, my outraged system finally overcame what was left of my consciousness and I threw up mightily, all down the outside of the train and spattering the platform as the vomit continued to track level. I managed to hit another couple of carriages as the train pulled away, and was finally left, spent, standing in a fug of stomach detritus and shame, as the few other last-train commuters studiously stepped around ground zero.

A London Underground staff member strolled up to me. I braced for impact.

"Don't worry mate," he said. "We've all been there."

Truly, the LU understands London.
posted by Devonian at 10:29 AM on July 20, 2013 [15 favorites]


Explosive public vomiting is the great leveller, yes.
posted by thelonius at 10:34 AM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure this photo is actually from a Wes Anderson movie.
posted by Bahro at 11:42 AM on July 20, 2013


I'm pretty sure this photo is actually from a Wes Anderson movie.

That photo made me realize how adapted to London I've become, because my immediate response was full-on commuter rage. It's walk left, stand right, damn it.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:03 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


full-on commuter rage.

I had a trip down to the London the other weekend for the first time in ages and I was almost please with myself that within a couple of hours I was tutting people who taking a millisecond too long to negotiate getting on and off the tube, escalators etc
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:13 PM on July 20, 2013


Workin' pon de underground, you don't get fi know yuh wey around. Inglan is a bitch.
posted by The Giant Squid at 12:14 PM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, these are all great. And yes, the smell is almost tangible, as is the stifling, sweaty heat.

Two I really loved: this one, in which two kids, one white and one black, hold their junior sporting trophies with a kind of disconsolate resignation that this is all they'll ever win.

And this one, where a gang of white rude boys mugging for the camera are getting the most controlled death stare from the girl in the leopard-print coat sat opposite, while a guy in a pinstripe suit fiddles with a pen and pretends that none of all of this is happening, and who are these people anyway, and will I make the connecting service to Weybridge at Waterloo?
posted by Len at 12:28 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


THE WOMEN'S SHOES. I die.
posted by mynameisluka at 12:43 PM on July 20, 2013


There are at least two of the Young Ones in this photo.


Though I do kinda miss the old clanking clattering wooden escalators.

Weren't those all eventually eaten by ravens?



Also, you know how people are often nostalgic for idealized versions of the past, that gloss over many of the uglier details? How fucked up are things today that my own idealized golden age is not only a place where I never lived at a time that I never lived there, but London in the early '80s?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:45 PM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey, I was on the London Underground in the 80s! You guys, if anyone sees me in a picture, would you tell me please? OK, thanks!
posted by wenestvedt at 1:19 PM on July 20, 2013


It's cool to see people smoking on the platform and inside the cars!

Thanks, Joe Jackson.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:23 PM on July 20, 2013


I love these. That's all I wanted to say.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:16 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, God, I hope no one spots me in any of these.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:11 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was last in London in 82, so this is how I remember the underground. Those way cool wooden escalators were removed? Shame.

One day I was rambling around town on the underground and had need to visit Victoria station. As I walked through the cavernous main room, I noticed a big central stone staircase at the foot of which someone had left what looked like a very large pile of rags. As I got closer I realized that the pile of rags was actually a pile of people, all lying together and sleeping quite peacefully among the rush of the pedestrian traffic around them.
posted by telstar at 3:53 PM on July 20, 2013


I was never on the Underground in the '80s (nor in London. I was in the 2000s, but they were so much cleaner then) and these make me feel a little nostalgic for the 1980s.
Oh, girl with the pink hair, be mine.

Pints on rails? You'd not get that these days. Not in glass.

I have no idea what's going on with this woman, but I'm guessing it's Ian Astbury's mother, coming come from an early Southern Death Cult gig.
posted by Mezentian at 10:26 PM on July 20, 2013


Oh early 80s new wave fashion how I fetishise you.
posted by Summer at 12:00 AM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is a new set Bob Mazzer on the tube today.
posted by epo at 3:28 AM on July 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was commuting by tube all through the eighties and it's weird to see these pictures make it seem so very far away in time and style.

It was a lot more fun and edgy in those days, though. They certainly bring that back.
posted by Decani at 8:02 AM on July 21, 2013


Oh, girl with the pink hair, be mine

Sure that's a girl? :-)
posted by Decani at 8:03 AM on July 21, 2013


Nice. Good to see a reminder of the legendarily terrifying platform as it used to be at Angel station - two electrified tracks separated by a strip of maybe 8 feet in width, no guard rails, crowds of maybe 1000 or more.
posted by colie at 1:23 PM on July 20


We still have some island platforms. Clapham Common is still just like that.
posted by Decani at 8:07 AM on July 21, 2013


Just 2 remaining island platforms 'in-tunnel' in the LU apparently. Over ground ones don't have the terror factor.
posted by colie at 8:24 AM on July 21, 2013


Lord Mustard. I haven't thought about him for decades. A mad busker with no discernable skills except being a very bad dancer, and yet enough of an eccentric (and loud) fixture around the West End and on the tube to turn that into some sort of living. Wonder what happened to the poor old bastard.
posted by Hogshead at 4:29 PM on July 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sure that's a girl? :-)

Pretty sure.
My skills were honed.
posted by Mezentian at 7:22 AM on July 22, 2013


Nothern Line?
posted by Mezentian at 7:24 AM on July 22, 2013


They followed up with a current set of photos.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 9:08 AM on July 23, 2013


God, I hate people who put their feet on the seats.
posted by Decani at 3:51 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


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