Views & Reviews Drug Tales and Other Stories

Beneath the surface

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 21 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f380
  1. Robin Ferner, director, West Midlands Centre for Adverse Drug Reactions, City Hospital, Birmingham B18 7QH, UK
  1. R.E.Ferner{at}

The three and three quarter miles from Bishop’s Road, Paddington to Farringdon Street in the City of London mark out the route of the world’s first underground railway, opened 150 years ago this month. The Times saw it as “the great engineering triumph of the day,” that afforded “a direct and expeditious means of conveyance for the enormous traffic between the east and west ends of London.”1 It had the great advantage that it avoided the increasingly tangled street traffic above, although it also had disadvantages. The trains were hauled by steam engines, and the “sulphureous gas” they emitted made it “most unpleasant to the officials, and . . . in a less degree, to the passengers themselves.”2 Indeed, two …

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