The beginning of the month saw the 150th anniversary of the opening of the first section of the London Underground.
The Metropolitan Line ran from Paddington to Farringdon with the idea of linking key London rail terminuses - Paddington to Euston and King's Cross.
Even in 1863 central London roads were clogged with traffic, although at this stage it was horses and carts.
The railway had taken several decades to plan and raise the necessary funds, much like modern transport projects.
It had required several Acts of Parliament and a large amount of private finance. The Great Western Railway was a key backer and it was this company's steam trains that originally ran on the track.
Construction took several years - from 1860 onwards - and required an enormous amount of hard work.
Workers dug trenches on the line of the route around 30 feet deep and then covered them over. As would be the case now, disruption to traffic was considerable.
Some working-class slum dwellings were swept away in the process and several people were killed in a range of accidents including flooded workings at Euston.
The railway was far from popular with the better off in society, who were not keen to have engine smoke venting out over their land, and in most cases they were even less keen on travelling on the trains.
Even so special services ran before the official opening with leading politicians such as Gladstone aboard.
What, however, about the workers? As Brecht wrote in his poem Questions From A Worker Who Reads, "Who built Thebes of the seven gates? In the books you will find the name of kings."
Unusually the range of stamps issued by Royal Mail to mark the 150th anniversary does contain one with a picture of those who built the London Underground, albeit from a later period.
The navigators, or navvies as they were popularly known, were a highly skilled and physically strong workforce.
History does not record much about the men who built the Metropolitan railway, but something is known.
Following the Irish potato famine, large numbers of these workers were Irishmen who were displaced from their home country in search of work.
Most of this work had to be done by manual labour. The use of technology was extremely limited.
There are some photographs of navvies engaged in the construction of the line. Spades and wheelbarrows are much in evidence.
The last major British railway line built without mechanical diggers was finished in the mid-1870s.
Rail construction machinery was in use in the US in the 1850s but, as Raphael Samuel notes in his survey of Victorian labour, The Workshop Of The World, British employers found manual labour cheaper.
The work was well paid but, as railway historian Christian Wolmar notes, it was so physically demanding that few navvies lived much beyond their forties.
While it is important to remember the hard labour of those who built the first section of the London Tube, it is also well to recall that it was of great benefit to ordinary workers as well.
It was not long before special workmen's fares were available on early morning Tube journeys - 4.30am to 5.30am - and the Tube both eased the journey to work and provided for increased mobility of labour in the capital.
The alternative to the Tube would in most cases have been a tramp of several miles each morning and evening.
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