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The First London Tube - The City And South London Railway

Opened in late 1890, the City & South London Railway was the world's first deep level tube railway.

The commercial success of CSLR influenced the LSWR over its Waterloo & City tube line leading in turn to the adoption of low voltage DC surface electrification.

Originally, the CSLR was worked by small four wheel electric locomotives of which 52 locomotives were built. One of the original batch of fourteen locomotives built c.1889 by Mather & Platt is preserved and today is part of the London Transport collection.

Powers had been obtained in 1884 for the construction of an underground railway from Monument to Elephant & Castle. This line was promoted as The City Of London & Southwark Subway and was envisaged by it's promoters as conveying passengers in cable hauled cars.

Work started on the line in 1886 and the following year the act of parliament was obtained that allowed the line to be constructed as far south as Stockwell. By 1888 the line was nearly complete but the promoters began to have second thoughts about cable haulage and started looking at the new electric railways that had appeared in Europe in the previous few years.

Under advice from engineers from Mather & Platt of Manchester the railway company obtained powers to have their line worked by electric traction and two years later in December 1890 the line opened as the City & South London Railway with passenger trains running from the northern terminus of King William Street to Stockwell, south of the Thames, a distance of three and a half miles. There were intermediate stations at Borough, Elephant & Castle, Kennington and Oval.

The trains were made up of three coaches with high back seats running longitudinally above which were tiny window slits. This layout earned the original C&SL cars the name 'Padded Cells'. At the end of each coach was the gate entrances through which passengers boarded and alighted. The trains were hauled by squat looking four wheeled electric locomotives built by Beyer Peacock and featuring electrical equipment supplied by Mather & Platt.

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