Celebrating 150 years of the District line

If you’ve been to the Natural History Museum 🦖, Roman Road Market 🛍️, Wimbledon 🎾, Whitechapel Gallery 🖼️ or Kew Gardens 🌼, then chances are you got there via the District line.

Our favourite green line first opened on Christmas Eve in 1868 – that makes the District line 150 years young 🎂

In the following years, it extended east and west and now has 60 stations – the most of any Tube line! Check out some of our top destinations to visit along the line.

In 1897 Embankment station was known as Charing Cross.

A brief history 🕰️

  • 1868 – The first section of what is now the District line begins, running between South Kensington and Westminster
  • 1869 – New tracks open between Gloucester Road and West Brompton
  • 1874 – The line extends to Hammersmith, Richmond (1877), and Ealing Broadway (1879)
  • 1884 – Mark Lane station opens, not only adding a new stop to the District line but also closing the Circle
  • 1930s – Construction of a Piccadilly line extension begins, resulting in Hounslow services running during rush hour only until 1964
  • 1932 – District line tracks beyond East Ham are electrified, and services are extended to Upminster Bridge
  • 1957 – A temporary airport terminal opens Underground (west of Gloucester Road) and passengers can check-in to their flights!
  • 1958 – Upminster Depot opens
  • 1967 – Mark Lane station closed and the new Tower Hill station opened in 1980 with single-leaf D stock running on the line
  • 1978 – Hannah Dadds of the District line becomes the first female Tube driver
  • 1980 – D stock introduced, running until 2017. S-7 stock is now used on the line – ‘S’ refers to the fact that the train services subsurface lines, rather than the deep Tube lines, and 7 refers to the number of cars in the train!

As you can see, the line has seen some big changes over the years ⏳ Some of its most recent innovations 💡 include the S stock modern walk-through air-conditioned trains – providing improved capacity, security and passenger flow – and the new signalling system will transform it even further.

1950 Hammersmith Station cross-platform interchange between the Piccadilly line (left) and the District line (right).

Did you know…? 🤔

150 years is a long time – you can imagine the District line has seen a lot. Here’s some of our favourite fun facts!

  1. The District Railway opened using steam trains. The first electric trains didn’t run on the line until 1905 – thankfully now with new air-conditioned stock!
  2. 1905 was also the year fishmongers were banned from shipping their wares using the line … wonder why? 🕰️
  3. When it first opened, the District line took a church break on Sundays with services suspended from 11am to 1pm ⛪
  4. Drivers weren’t allowed to blow their whistles near Temple station so they didn’t disturb the lawyers nearby 🤫
  5. Back when the line was used to transport freight around London in the early 1900s, packages reached their final destinations carried by a tricycle-riding courier!
  6. It took 2000 workers to dig the tunnel, along with 200 horses. That’s a lot of horse power! 🐎🐎🐎
  7. A Tube line is a funny thing to ask for Christmas but someone must have since the District line opened on Christmas Eve. Apparently Christmas Day was considered profitable for travel 🎅
  8. One for the gamers 🎮 Lara Croft takes on rats in the disused Aldwych Tube station of the District line in Tomb Raider 3 🐀🐀🐀
  9. One for the film buffs 🎥 scenes from Sliding Doors were shot at Fulham Broadway Tube station on the District line, and Waterloo station on the Waterloo & City line
  10. More than 220 million journeys take place on the line annually
  11. The original District Railway trains could fit about 400 people per train, but today it can carry more than 1,000 people with the help of the new S-7 stock trains
D-stock train travels across the Kew Railway Bridge in 2013.

Need more inspiration?

Explore more than 500 museums, galleries, street art sites and more, all within a short walk or bus ride from each Underground station with our interactive Cultural TfL Map.

Keen to explore the District line? We’ve got you sorted with our Journey Planner. Plus, you can get off-peak fares from £1.50 for adult pay as you go journeys on Tube and Overground.

Kids aged 5-10 travel free on all Tube, DLR, London Overground and TfL Rail services with a valid 5-10 Zip Oyster photocard. All kids under 11 travel free on buses and trams.

Go and discover London off-peak this spring at Time Out.


  1. Really interesting, having used the tube since I was a small baby (61yrs), much change has occurred in that time. But I love the old photos.

  2. The photograph taken at Hammersmith station in 1950 brings back memories. I was a toddler that could barely walk which continued until my teenage years when I travelled through this station with parents on our way to visit relatives that in those days, lived at Wandsworth Common, changing at Knightsbridge for a no.19 bus connection to our final destination having joined the train at Uxbridge.
    The District Line history is both fascinating and informative as is the same for the whole of our London Underground system. A real jewel in London’s crown.

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