From “Railway Wonders of the World”*

*Published by the Amalgamated Press, Railway Wonders of the World appeared in 50 weekly instalments from 1st February 1935 through to 10th January 1936.

NB Although the following entry relates to Kilburn Park, it serves as a description of Warwick Avenue, pictured above:

*(Historic England): “By the escalators (renewed) are areas of chequerboard tiling forming a framework for posters.”

* “THE use of mechanical means of access to and from railway station platforms is of relatively recent origin. London’s original underground system – the Metropolitan and the Metropolitan District – was constructed at only a small depth below the surface, and was extended at an early date to run above ground, as on the “Hammersmith and City” section, much of which is carried on arches. Hence stairways sufficed to take passengers to and from the stations. The same method is still largely employed on the underground lines of other cities, such as Paris, Berlin, and Buenos Aires.

With the coming of the tube railways, which were built at a considerably greater depth beneath the surface, staircases were no longer adequate, although it was still necessary to retain them for use in emergency.

The original City and South London lifts, installed for the opening of the initial section from King William Street to Stockwell in December 1890, were primitive in comparison with the lifts of to-day, and of small capacity. As a matter of historical interest, it may be recalled that when this pioneer line was opened, it was provided with an inclined plane with a gradient of 1 in 3½ to enable the cars and locomotives to pass between the tunnels and the Stockwell sheds. This plane, operated by a winding engine, was subsequently superseded by a 20-tons hydraulic hoist.

…Speed is controlled by a governor, similar in general principle to that used on stationary steam engines. Two heavy metal balls are attached to pivoted levers which are in turn fixed to a vertical shaft, revolving through gearing. The faster the shaft revolves, the more are the metal balls swung out by centrifugal force, and should the lift speed exceed a predetermined figure the governor actuates a brake.

This device was originally designed to serve as a check on the working of lifts controlled by an attendant travelling on them. In the newer types, no attendant is necessary in the lift itself, as the result of introducing a semi-automatic means of operation known as landing control. With this system, human control is restricted to closing the gates, after which working, including acceleration and deceleration, is automatic.

The advantages of the method are that it saves the passenger’s time, and that a single operator can attend to a number of lifts. At certain stations the lift is operated at the upper level by the booking clerk, and an attendant is necessary only at the bottom of the shaft.

…An escalator was in use at the Earl’s Court Exhibition over thirty years ago. By a remarkable coincidence, the first escalators in the service of London transport were installed at Earl’s Court Station, where they were inaugurated on October 4, 1911. In the following year they were introduced at the Central London’s Bank Station (the first to have three in one shaft). Since then it has been the general practice to equip all new stations below ground with escalators, and to substitute them for lifts when a station is reconstructed, as has been done, for instance, at Chancery Lane, Holborn, and Piccadilly.

It may be as well to say that there are difficulties in the way of the complete replacement of lifts. Whatever the depth of a lift shaft, allowance need be made only for vertical movement, whereas the escalator travels in both a horizontal and a vertical direction. Considerations of space, and the presence of subterranean gas, water or electric mains, may make the escalator impossible at stations lying an unusual depth below the surface. Hampstead, where the shafts go down to the record level of 181 ft, is an example of this.

…In recent years the travelling public has become accustomed to faster escalator travel, and has overcome that slight hesitation before stepping on to the moving staircase that was noticeable when escalators were novelties.

To appreciate the value of escalators, one should attempt to visualize London without them, and consider how passengers would regard going back to lifts, and to the consequent crowding of persons all impatient to get to or from the platforms underground. Although, as stated, the escalator is not likely to displace the use of lifts at every station, the extension of the system is among the most important improvements in the modern handling of passenger traffic.

The rate of travel of the escalator – which began at 90 ft a minute, increased to 120 ft for normal working, and has been accelerated to 160 ft at many stations, and to 180 ft at others – shows how the escalator habit is developing. The progress is more marked than in other recent development, and finality is not easily denned. It may safely be assumed, however, that the escalator is keeping pace with the increased speed of the passenger in a hurry.”

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