Celebrating 150 years of London Underground

Celebrating 150 years of the Tube

9 January 2013 marks the 150th anniversary since the first London Underground journey took place. Here we delve into the BTP history archives to see how BTP officers and staff have helped shape the history of the Tube.

British Transport Police PC and PCSO

BTP and the Tube: timeline

10 January 1863

The world's first underground railway opened to the public between Farringdon Street and Paddington.

September 1867

First record of a crime on the Underground
John Reid and some friends commented on the smoky atmosphere at Gower Street Underground station (now Euston Square) by "coughing outrageously". When porter Henry Maunders asked them to be quiet, Reid pulled his beard and was later fined £3 for assault. 


The London Transport Police (LTP) was created to police the trains, trams, buses and trolleybuses.


According to the 20th Century London website, the number of LTP constables doubled during the Second World War to help with patrolling of Underground stations — 79 Tube stations were used as shelters.

Large amounts of goods were carried by rail, and with rationing, thefts became a huge problem, aided by the many blackouts. Between 1941 and 1952, thefts on the railway actually exceeded the total number of other thefts reported by all the police forces in England and Wales combined.

24 May 1957

The murder of Countess Teresa Lubienska at Gloucester Road Underground station sparked a massive police investigation. Officers examined 214 Piccadilly line trains and interviewed a staggering 18,000 people, including hundreds of railway staff and 64 train crews.

Every knife found on the Underground for the next few months was handed to police for forensic examination. Despite the huge effort put into finding Countess Lubienska's killer, the perpetrator remains unidentified to this day.

1 December 1958

London Transport Police was amalgamated with the British Transport Commission Police, which was later renamed British Transport Police.

18 November 1987

A fire broke out under the escalator at King's Cross Underground station, resulting in the death of 31 people. Seven BTP officers were later awarded Queen's Commendations for Brave Conduct or Queen’s Gallantry Medals, for their actions during the fire.


The Crime on the London Underground Report led to a number of improvements, including around 80 more police officers, better use of crime data to analyse problems, the establishment of dedicated Community Beat officers, police stations at key points around the system and training for rail staff in aspects of the law, conflict avoidance and dealing with aggression.

The main security improvements included CCTV installation, help and information points, mirrors in corridors and dedicated Group Railway Security Control Rooms staffed by London Underground employees.

May 1999

The first 10 Special Constables for London Underground were sworn in to help police the Tube and increase visibility of police officers on the network. Special Constables are volunteers who give their time to help police their local community — today the number of BTP Special Constables on the London Underground and DLR has grown to 51.

18 June 1999

15 BTP officers were injured during protests in the City of London. Six officers from Baker Street, two from Stockwell, one from Aldgate and one from Hammersmith were hit by flying bottles and bricks when they came under attack in College Hill near Cannon Street station.

11 January 2002

The murder of Marguerite Van Campenhout by her former boyfriend during rush hour at Euston Underground station proved to be a significant case for BTP. The crime was the first ever murder case in which BTP officers took the lead.

Vaso Aliu, Ms Van Campenhout's former boyfriend, was convicted of her murder, for which he received a life sentence. He was also sentenced to a total of 15 years' imprisonment for the wounding of two other people at the scene.

13 December 2004

The first BTP Community Police Support Officers (PCSOs) were recruited in London.

7 July 2005

52 people died and 700 were injured as suicide bombers targeted London’s transport network. Bombs were detonated on Underground trains near Edgware Road, King's Cross and Aldgate and a bus near Tavistock Square.

Two weeks later, the Underground was targeted again. This time, devices were only partially detonated — BTP and other emergency services responded after smoke was reported at Oval, Warren Street and Shepherd’s Bush stations.

October 2006

BTP appointed Ellie Bird as Superintendent Operations on London Underground Area. She was the first woman to have reached that substantive rank in the 180-year history of railway policing.

August 2008

As our Neighbourhood Policing plan got in to full swing, London Mayor Boris Johnson launched 30 teams charged with policing London Underground and its stations. The teams have a specialist knowledge of the area they work in, and can cater to the particular needs of their community.

July-September 2012

BTP officers, staff, and volunteers joined other forces from across the country to police the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Over 101 million journeys were made on London Underground during Games time — 28% above normal levels.

Present day

Today, 675 BTP officers help to keep the London Underground and DLR safe and secure. They are supported by 74 PCSOs, 212 members of police staff and 51 Special Constables.

Find out what we're doing to help keep the Tube safe during 2012/13 by downloading our current London Underground & DLR Policing plan.

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