While the railways were transporting people and goods around the country at unprecedented speeds in the 19th century, traffic in inner cities was becoming chaotic. The answer the Victorians came up with was simple: move the whole problem underground.
In 1863, the world’s first underground railway was built. The Metropolitan Line connected Paddington station – the London rail terminus for many prosperous commuters to the City – to Farringdon Street, just minutes from the Bank of England.
In 1891 the Central London Railway was formed to build a line connecting the City to the growing western suburbs. The line from Shepherd’s Bush to Bank was opened in 1900, and was commonly known as the 'Twopenny Line' after its standard fare.
These photographs show workers posing for the picture during the construction of the underground British Museum Station on the Central Line in 1898. This station remained in service until 1933. It was later used as an air raid shelter during the Second World War.
Photographs were initially collected by the British Museum. Despite the lack of a specific collecting policy, the Museum (part of whose collections later came to the British Library) accumulated a large number of photographic images.
In recent years the British Library has acquired two important photographic collections, the first relating to the pioneer Fox Talbot, and the second the Kodak Archive.