Tuesday, 23 April 2013


The London Underground is one of the greatest engineering achievements in British history. If, like me, you sometimes take it for granted, then lovely little films like 'The Travelators' (1961) help remind you of the scale and sheer amount of graft that go into its maintenance and constant updating, let alone the original construction.

The film details the building of two travelators at the Bank station. These were the first in Europe, and a huge shaft had to be sunk under the road in one of the busiest parts of London. Scale models were used extensively in the planning and building process. I like scale models very much. If I had to write an episode of 'The Twilight Zone' it would be about a lonely modelling enthusiast who finds a way to live in a scale model, and ends up enjoying it much more than life in the big world. 

Work started on the Bank site in August, 1957, and was completed three years later. The travelators were opened in September, 1960 by the Lord Mayor of London, who was also the first person to officially travelate. After the dignitaries had their photograph taken, the 'moving pavements' were opened up to the general public, who seemed to really enjoy the innovation. People were easily pleased in the olden days, weren't they? I'm not knocking it, it's a good way to be. 

Note misspelling of 'travelator'

Look how clean it all is!

Look how happy they all are!

In case you were pondering the difference between a travelator and an escalator, by the way, it's the absence of steps.


  1. I enjoy any post containing the words 'huge shaft'.

    1. I enjoy any post containing the words 'officially travelate'