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  1. ITV Report

Historic images of the London Underground released for the first time

The exterior of the completed Gloucester Road Station on the underground Metropolitan and District Railway, which was opened in 1868. Photo: Henry Flather

A set of rarely seen photographs by the 19th century photographer Henry Flather has been published for the first time by the Museum of London.

The pictures depict some of the earliest London Underground construction, 'navvies' hard at work, and underground stations shortly after completion, at Notting Hill, Bayswater and High Street Kensington. Other familiar London locations that feature include Somerset House, Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Flather took a series of 64 photographs in the late 1860s to document the construction of the Metropolitan District Railway from Paddington to Blackfriars via Kensington, Westminster and the Victoria Embankment.

The first tunneled, or 'tube', railway in London was the City & South London Line, which opened in 1890. The photographs will be part of the museum's permanent collection.

Here are twelve of the images of Flather's collection:

  • Construction site to the west of Waterloo Bridge: 1866-1870

Construction site to the west of Waterloo Bridge and the foot of Savoy Street. The Victoria Embankment and the Metropolitan District Line were constructed simultaneously in 1868.

Waterloo Bridge Credit: Museum of London
  • *The construction of the Metropolitan District Railway; c.1867 *

A group of railway construction workers, or 'navvies', pose for the camera beside a steam crane in Praed Street, Paddington. The Great Western Railway's Paddington terminus and hotel can be seen in the background.

Metropolitan District Railway Credit: Museum of London
  • The completed front of Paddington (Praed Street) Station.

Paddington (Praed Street) Station was opened in c. 1868.

Paddington Station Credit: Museum of London
  • Construction work at Blackfriars Station

Construction work on the site of Blackfriars Station, looking north-east towards St. Andrew's-by-the-Wardrobe & St. Paul' Cathedral.

Blackfriars Station Credit: Museum of London
  • *Bayswater Station: 1886-1888. *

Interior of completed Bayswater Station. Photographer Henry Flather's portable darkroom can be seen on the tracks.

Bayswater Statio Credit: Museum of London
  • *Notting Hill Gate Station after completion: 19th century *

Notting Hill Gate interior of completed station.

Notting Hill Gate Station Credit: Museum of London
  • Gloucester Road Station under construction: c. 1866. **

Gloucester Road Station looking towards South Kensington. Timber scaffolding method of erecting the metal arched ribs, assembled in sections and built up to the timber.

Gloucester Road Station Credit: Museum of London
  • *District Line construction outside Somerset House in 1869. *

The Embankment was opened on July 13th 1870. The railway to Blackfriars was completed on May 30th 1870.

District Line Credit: Museum of London
  • *The construction of the Metropolitan District Railway; c.1866. *

Roofing over a cutting to form twin tunnels. The method of construction can clearly be seen, with five rings of brick arching being laid over two steel frames.

Metropolitan District Railway Credit: Museum of London
  • High Street Kensington c.1868

The interior of the completed Kensington Station showing the platforms, roof and track with a contractor's locomotive. The station was later renamed High Street Kensington.

High Street Kensington Credit: Museum of London
  • *The front of the completed Notting Hill Gate Station c.1866 with railway staff posing for the camera. *
Notting Hill Gate Station Credit: Museum of London
  • *A scene near South Kensington Station *

Ascene near South Kensington Station showing the roofing over of the undergroundMetropolitan District Railway. Pelham House can be seen on the left.

South Kensington Station Credit: Museum of London