New set of Poems on the Tube to celebrate 150th anniversary of the London Underground out now

15 February 2013
"I hope Tube travellers will enjoy these poems of London life, snapshots of the great city in all its variety."

I hope Tube travellers will enjoy these poems of London life, snapshots of the great city in all its variety.

The Poems have been chosen to reflect London as it was and London as it is now.

The six poems reflect typical aspects of London as seen by Londoners and visitors.

The new collection also features the immigrant experience, so important to postwar London and to the Tube, in poems by Nii Ayikwei Parkes, a Ghanaian poet now living in London, and the distinguished Jamaican poet Lorna Goodison.

The past and the future of London are juxtaposed in the poem poster for Wordsworth's 'The river proudly bridged', from 1805, which is shown next to a 2012 drawing of Southwark Bridge by David Gentleman, who designed the mural at Charing Cross Tube station.
Other poems include:

  • 'Vacillation' by the great Irish poet W.B. Yeats, a moving personal account of the experience of a solitary man in wartime London (1915)
  • 'Stations' by Londoner Connie Bensley, with her typical humour describing modern love on the Northern Line
  • 'Gherkin Music' by the award-winning London poet Jo Shapcott, capturing the iconic shape of the modernist City building in a celebration of architecture, science, poetry, and music
  • 'Barter' by Nii Ayikwei Parkes, a poignant account of a young Ghanaian immigrant longing for human contact, finding his way in a cold London winter
  • 'Bam Chi Chi La La: London', 1969 by Lorna Goodison, describing the dreams of a Jamaican teacher working as a charwoman in the West End. The title refers to a popular Jamaican children's rhyme

Judith Chernaik, writer and editor and founder of Poems on the Underground, said: 'I hope Tube travellers will enjoy these poems of London life, snapshots of the great city in all its variety.'

A huge range of events and activities to celebrate the 150th anniversary is being held this year to explore London Underground's fascinating history and the vital role it continues to play - both in the lives of Londoners and to the economic life of London and the UK. 

This includes steam train runs, new stamps and coins, wonderful new books by well-known authors published by Penguin and inspired by the various Tube lines and artwork by Turner prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger and a set of posters and limited edition prints by 15 leading contemporary artists.

Contact the TfL press office for more details on 0845 604 4141.

Notes to editors:

  • Forthcoming event: Lorna Goodison, Nii Ayikwei Parkes and Jo Shapcott join Poems on the Underground's editors for a celebration of London poems on Sunday, 17 March, 7pm-8pm at Keats House, Keats Grove, NW3 2RR. Tickets £6 from Keats House, include wine.  Advance booking advised.; 020 7332 3868
  • To celebrate London Underground's 150th anniversary a new edition of the Poems on the Underground book has been published by Penguin Books. This new Poems on the Underground book contains verses that have been displayed in Tube carriages over the years, from the start of the programme in 1986 to the poems passengers can see on the Underground system today
  • To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Tube, a new book 'Underground - How the Tube shaped London 1863 to 2013' by Penguin Books is now available and costs £25.00. The book can be ordered from London Transport Museum's online shop at
  • Poems on the Underground is supported by TfL, Arts Council England, and the British Council. Poems are selected by writer Judith Chernaik and poets Gerard Benson and Cicely Herbert. Posters are designed by Tom Davidson, and are available from the London Transport Museum and the Poetry Society
  • The Tube is undergoing a huge and essential programme to upgrade its ageing infrastructure - vital to cope with a growing population and to support the economic development and growth of the capital and the UK. This includes the introduction of new track and signalling and the rebuilding of some of our most important stations. By the end of the current programme there will be 30% more capacity. This will inevitably result in some disruption for passengers, but TfL is working hard to provide information and alternative travel options
  • Transport for London would like to thank Cubic, Siemens and CBS Outdoor for sponsoring the 150th anniversary of London Underground
  • Using Oyster, passengers only need one card to travel on all public transport across London, including National Rail services operating within the Capital. Oyster pay as you go customers are always reminded to touch in and out at the start and end of every journey to ensure they pay the correct fare
  • The £5 deposit and £5 minimum top-up will apply as normal for the limited edition card
  • Oyster cards can be registered to protect any balance and benefit from online account facilities at
  • An image is available on request.