Monday 17 December 2012

The Omnibus Subway Company

Another great idea for London transport that never came to pass. Well, perhaps not quite 'great' but we love the name:

I beg to report that I have examined the Plans and Schedule deposited by the Omnibus Subway Company. This Company proposes constructing a Subway starting at the Royal Exchange, passing through Cheapside, the North Side of St. Paul's, Ludgate Hill, Fleet Street, the Strand, Charing Cross, and Parliament Street, to the Houses of Parliament, having stations at every quarter of a mile upon its length; it is to be constructed at but a moderate depth beneath the streets, so as not to be interfere with the Gas amd Water pipes and will be in thhe centre of the Roadway to avoid interference with the vaults and cellars.

The widths of the carriages will be only sufficient to carry two persons abreast in the 2nd class carraiges, - and two line sof rails will be laid; trains are proposed to run every four minutes, and the time occupied in going from the Exchange to Charing Crosss will be about 16 minutes, including stoppages: the internal surfaces of the subways will be perfectly white and they will be lighted throughout with gas.

The system of traction proposed is that of an endless rope worked by stationary engines at the Termini; - locomotives with their heat and smoke will therefore not traverse the subways.

The project carried out will involve the reconstruction of the whole of the sewers throughout the entire length of the subway within the City as well as that of many othes in collateral streets and would cause during its construction much temporary inconvenience: the means of access; area of the public way to be astracted, if any; the effect of the scheme upon the general traffic at certain points; the ventilation of the subways, if on to the public ways; and general question of the appropriation of a large space of the soil beneath the highways, with other points require much additional explanation and the careful attention of the Commission before its decision can be safely given upon the scheme.

Pending that investigation it seems to me that it would be unwise in any way to damp the enterprise by denial of your sanction further than may be absolutely needful to enable you to retain your power of protectionb of the public rights; for alttohugh the project is startling at first sight, yet upon consideration it will be found to be worthy of close attention and if successful in the first case, it is a system capable of direct extension tto all parts of London to the public advantage; and considering the annual increase in the closely inhabited areaof the metropolis, the gigantic traffic which now almost stagnates in its main thoroughfares, the impediemtnns which beset their improvement, the poor instalments of increased street accommodation which are given only after years of discussion and consideration, insalments which but retard and must ultimately rendre nobler measures still more costly than they now would be, it would be in every respect a matter of congratulation if by commercial enterprisses relief could be obtained in the way proposed.

William Haywood, 24th January 1859

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