Tube World Record

         

History

This is a combined list of profiles and characters of individuals and teams that have attempted the record over the years, along with entries from Guinness World Record books on record breaking attempts.

1960s

In the beginning of tube challenging, there were 268 stations on the tube map. The Epping to Ongar branch had to be done (unlike today), and there was also Aldwych which is now closed. The Victoria line did not exist, nor did the two stations at Heathrow Airport. There was no Jubilee line at all, with the branch up to Stanmore then being part of the Bakerloo line.

Those were the obvious differences to today's map, but there were also three other parts which aren't immediately obvious which are different to today. Firstly, you had to do the stretch between Moorgate and Finsbury Park which was then part of the Northern Line. The Bakerloo line did not end at Harrow and Wealdstone, but carried on six more stops up the line at Watford Junction. And finally, the Metropolitan line did not end at Amersham. Instead, there were four more stops out to Aylesbury which had to be done too.

It may have also been that you only had to do things like Edgware Road, Paddington and Hammersmith once - certainly before Hammersmith was rebuilt integrating it with today's present bus station, there used to be a subway linking together what are now two separate stations.

During this time, there were five 'double sites' (i.e. same-name stations that were counted as two different stations): Ealing Broadway, Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush, Paddington and Edgware Road. 268 plus five makes 273 stations required for the record. Before Aylesbury dropped off the Underground map there were four more stations making 277. This is important to note because it can be confusing when the Guinness Records (listed below) sometimes refer to there being 273 stations, and at other times 277.

March 1960
All 264 stations in 18 hours, 35 minutes
George Hurst and Jane Barwick

9th September 1961
All 264 stations in 18 hours, 9 minutes
J Birch, B Phillips and N Storr

3rd December 1960
All 277 stations in 20 hours, 27 minutes.
K.Branch and J.Branch

The service between Amersham and Aylesbury was officially withdrawn from London Underground operation (and therefore no longer part of the challenge) on the 10th September 1961, making it 4 less stations that you had to do.

22nd August 1963
272 out of 273 stations in 14 hours,56 minutes (Class 'B')
Christopher Njekirk

4th July 1964
272 out of 273 Stations in 14 hours, 17 minutes
A.Mortimer, JP.Herting, D.Corke & G.Elliot

This 4th July 1964 'record' appears in the 1965 Guinness Book of Records, but it's not really understood why considering that they missed out a station - Aldwych - and therefore didn't complete all the stations, and it seems to be an incredibly fast presumably making it a 'Class B' attempt.

1st June 1965
273 Stations in 18 hours, 45 minutes
J.P.Chambers & M.P. Atkinson

12th July 1965
273 Stations in 18 hours, 32 minutes
A.J.T Holmes & C.J.N Holmes

7th September 1965
273 Stations in 16 hours, 57 minutes
Alan Jenkins

Alan was 15 years old at the time in 1965.

1st November 1966
273 Stations in 15 hours, 53 minutes
Leslie Burwood

Leslie was 17 year old at the time when he completed this in 1966

27th June 1968
277 Stations in 16 hours, 5 minutes
Anthony Durkin & Peter Griffiths

3rd September 1968
15 hours, 0 minutes
Leslie Burwood

1970s

18th October 1979
287 out of 287 Stations in 19 hours, 25 minutes
Peter Altman, Marilyn Nathan & Ralph Cramer

They finished at 1am at Upminster (having started at Ongar at 6am) with the benefit of the District Line controller holding the last train for them at Monument as they changed from Bank.

The Brixton - Victoria part of the Victoria Line opened on 23rd July 1971, added two more stations (Brixton and Vauxhall) with Pimlico following slightly later, opening on the 14th September 1972, adding three new stations in total.

Many people see Robert Robinson (below), as the 'Master' of the challenge, but the first consistent challenger and the person who some see as the real 'Guru' of the network Colm Mulvaney, who worked for London Transport at the time on the Central Line.

Colm made his challenges in the mid to late 1970s, and had at least one official record-breaking attempt in 1981 at the time when the Piccadilly line used to end at Hounslow West.

The Piccadilly line was extended to Hatton Cross on the 19th July 1975, and followed by the extension-proper to Heathrow airport with the opening of the Terminal 1,2 & 3 station on December 16th 1977. The 'loop' with Terminal 4 would not get added to the system until 1986.

The Moorgate to Finsbury Park stretch of the Northern line was also slowly closed during the mid-1970s. By 4th October 1975, it had entirely shut taking out 2 stations (Drayton Park and Essex Road) from the map. And although it re-opened in 1976, it was then part of British Rail and not London Underground and so did not have to be done as part of any attempts.

1980s

25th March 1980
278 Stations in 18 hours, 22 minutes
Bob Robinson, David Herring, Paul Eddington & Finn Gleeson

20th May 1980
278 Stations in 18 hours, 3 minutes
John & Stephen Trafford

23rd June 1981
278 Stations in 17 hours, 57 minutes
Bob Robinson & Finn Gleeson

16th September 1981
278 Stations in 17 hours, 48 minutes
Jon Brown, Robert Anderson & Alex Chin-A-Fat

21st October 1981
278 Stations in 17 hours, 42 minutes, 38 seconds
Nicholas Mitchell & Ian Robins

Blake Hall on the Epping to Ongar branch of the Central Line was closed on the 31st October 1981, with the rest of the Epping - Ongar line being reduced to peak hours only at this point making it slightly more tricky for challengers to timetable this into their route. An all day service was brought back briefly in 1990, but had gone again by 1993.

21st October 1981
278 Stations in 17 hours, 42 minutes, 38 seconds
Nicholas Mitchell

During the 1980s there were two people who were most prolific at riding the system. The first of these is Colm Mulvany, a motorman (driver) on the Central Line, and his friend Seth Vafiadis (a booking clerk on Central Line stations) obtained the record once, along with attempting other transport records.

For example, between the 4th June and 5th of July 1984, they travelled through every BR station in the country (All 2,378 of them) as well as the entire London Underground plus the Tyne and Wear and Strathcyde metro systems - raising money for charity along the way.

3rd December 1981
277 Stations in 17 hours, 37 minutes
Colm Mulvany & Seth Vafiadis

The service on the Bakerloo Line between Watford Junction and Harrow and Wealdstone officially ended on the 24th September 1982, making six less stations in total that you had to do.

The second prolific person of this time was Robert (Bob) Robinson who is often regarded as the 'ultimate' tube challenger, as he has had more attempts than anyone else and held the record for the longest period of cumulative time - he made 51 attempts between late 1979 and 2000.

Only on five of those times did he fail to make it round the entire system (A successful completion rate of over 90%). On eight of these attempts he got/held the record. He also held the record when the network was at 270 stations for a long time of 18 hours, 18 minutes and 9 seconds. This was before the Jubilee Line Extension.

Heathrow Terminal 4 was opened on Saturday the 12th April 1986

14th April 1986
272 Stations in 19 hours, 51 minutes, 14 seconds
Robert (Bob) Robinson, Peter Robinson, John Garde & Timothy Clark

Bob made an attempt two days after T4 opened on the Monday - the first possible date that it could have been attempted. He then shaved 10 minutes off of his own time three months later.

It was around this time in April 1986 that the service to Kensington Olympia became a regular one instead of only running during peak hours or when there was an exhibition on. This made is slightly easier to plan an attempt as you could now attempt the challenge on any day that you wanted to rather than having to wait for an 'Exhibition Only' service day.

30th July 1986
273 Stations in 18 hours, 41 minutes, 41 seconds
Robert (Bob) Robinson, Peter Robinson, Timothy Robinson, Timothy Clark, Richard Harris

4th October 1994
270 Stations in 18 hours, 18 minutes, 9 seconds
Robert (Bob) Robinson, Tom McLaughlin

2000s

16th March 2000
272 Stations in 19 hours, 57 minutes, 47 seconds
Robert (Bob) Robinson, Chris Loxton, Chris Stubley, Chris Whiteoak, Olly Rich & Adam Waller

Started at Temple at 05.02, finished at Upminster at 01.00

3d April 2002
275 Stations in 19 hours, 18 minutes, 45 seconds
Jack Welsby

Jack is from Nottingham, and was 24 when he established a new record of 19 hours, 18 minutes and 45 seconds in April 2002.

He made just the one attempt, which worked as planned first time - starting at Heathrow and ending at Amersham. He had been accompanied with somone all day who should have held the record alongside Jack, but they had a problem at a ticket gate and failed to catch a train that Jack did.

5th May 2004
275 Stations in 18 hours, 35 minutes, 43 seconds
Geoff Marshall & Neil Blake

On Geoff's seventh attempt to get the world record it worked - starting at Amersham and ending at Upminster. Even though the run was done on the 5th May, it took Guinness four months confrim it in September of 2004..

January 7th 2005 - Heathrow 4 is temporarily closed to allow for the construction of Terminal 5, station count down to 274 stations.

30th May 2006
274 Stations in 18 hours, 35 minutes, 38 seconds
Steven Wilson & Samantha Cawley

On 30th May 2006, Steve Wilson and Samantha Cawley beat the previous time by just five seconds.

They too started at Amersham and finished at Upminster in a time of 18 hours, 35 minutes and 38 seconds - making them the new world record holders.

It was Steve's third full attempt at the record and Sam's second - although they both took part in the Tube Relief attempt the previous year.

On June 9th 2006, Shoreditch station closed, but Guinness still rule it has to be done by the replacement bus service. The total station count therefore still at 274.

26th September 2006
275 Stations in 18 hours, 25 minutes, 3 seconds
Håkan Wolgé and Lars Andersson

Just a few weeks after confirmation that five seconds has been shaved off of Geoff & Neil's time, confirmation came through of an even faster time.

On the 26th September 2006, Håkan Wolgé and Lars Andersson from Sweden set a new time of 18 hours 25 minutes and 3 seconds - putting a healthy gap of around ten minutes off the two previous record times. This was confirmed by Guinness World Records just a few weeks later on the 6th November.

Håkan thinks they could have been even quicker, as they just missed a train after a walk/run where they'd lost time due to erroneous notes on door positions and they got off at the wrong end of a train. They also encountered a group of football fans which slowed them down on a connection and they missed a train which would have got them in a few minutes sooner. Håkan's route had an estimate time of 18 hours and 10 minutes, but he thinks on a lucky/perfect day, it could've been done in around 18 hours.

Heathrow Terminal 4 had re-opened by this stage, and although Shoreditch was closed (for good) it still had to be done by the replacement bus service as it was still printed on the tube map - although the station was closed and no trains ran there!

25th July 2007
274 Stations in 18 hours, 20 minutes, 26 seconds
Antony, Jamie, Kevin, Phillip Brown & John Stark

Taking five minutes off of the previous time, there was now one station less to do as Heathrow Terminal 4 was closed to allow for the construction of Terminal 5. Shoreditch still had to be visited. They started at Amersham and finished at Heathrow Terminals 1, 2, 3.

The East London Line closed and stopped being part of the tube network on Saturday December 22nd 2007.

On the 29th December 2007 three of the above record holders - Anthony, Jamie and Phillip Brown took advantage of a rare weekend when there were no engineering works on the network, and made an attempt on a Saturday.

This was one week after the East London Line has closed, and before Heathrow T5 opened, meaning that there were 268 stations on the network at that time.

They started at Amersham on the 05:28 train and finished at Heathrow T123 at 22:59 for a total time of 17 hours, 30 minutes and 51 second - which beat their own time and 'set' a new record time... but when they sent in all the evidence, Guinness did not approve it as it is in the rules that attempts must be made on weekdays.

Heathrow Terminal 5 opened in March 2008.

10th April 2008
269 Stations in 18 hours, 18 minutes, 42 seconds
Steven Karahan

With the new Heathrow Terminal 5 opened on the 27th March 2008, this was the first attempt to get the new time with Terminal 5 (and 4) back on the map, but the East London Line had officially closed, thus bringing the station count down to 269 stations. Steven started his attempt at Amersham and finished at Heathrow.

18th April 2008
269 Stations in 17 hours, 56 minutes, 28 seconds
Rachel Brabbins, John Stark and Antony, Jamie, Kevin, Phillip & Ryan Brown

But just a week later that time was beaten when a BBC Three Counties radio reporter Rachel joined a previous record-winning team to set a new time for the 269 configuration - and getting a time of under 18 hours for the first time since 1981. The route was Amersham to Heathrow once more.

8th July 2008
269 Stations in 17 hours, 56 minutes, 11 seconds
Andi James, Sara Wearns & Martin Hazel

That new 'under 18 hours' record stood for just three months when a team using a different route shaved 17 seconds off of the time to establish the latest record.

Andi has now made almost fifty attempts, making him one of the most prolific tube challengers in recent times.

24th July 2008
269 Stations in 17 hours, 12 minutes, 43 seconds
Steven Karahan & Andi James

Just over two weeks later, the time was beaten again, this time a large chunk of time - over 40 minutes - being taken off to bring the record down to an incredibly fast seventeen hours and twelve minutes. Andi beat his own time using the same Amersham start and Heathrow finish route.

On October 12th 2008, the new station Wood Lane was opened on the Hammersmith & City line, but the record was not reset as it was ruled that it was not a significant change to the network, despite opening up a major new connection possibility between Wood Lane and White City stations.

4th December 2009
270 Stations in 17 hours, 2 minutes, 23 seconds
Samantha Cawley

Former record holder from 2006, Sam went out on her own (with assistance) and had a target of coming in under 17 hours, which she almost - but not quite - did! The time was fast enough though to shave ten minutes off of the previous record, and is now the only solo female in the history of the challenge to hold the record. She started at Amersham and ended at Heathrow T5.

14th December 2009
270 Stations in 16 hours, 44 minutes, 16 seconds
Andi James, Martin Hazel & Steve Wilson

Just a week after Sam set her close-to-17-hours time, the 17 hour barrier was beaten. This time Andi James (with his third record) set a time along with Steve Wilson and Martin Hazel of just under sixteen and three quarter hours. They started at Chesham at 06:20 in the morning, and finished at Heathrow Terminal 5.

This record stood for over a year - almost a year and a half in fact. Although there were numerous attempts to beat the time, delays and problems meant that only one person even got under the 17 hour barrier - and that was with missing out one station. It took until 2011 and a non-Londoner to set a new time.

21st April 2011
270 Stations in 16 hours, 29 minutes, 57 seconds
Marc Gawley

Marc is from Denton, Manchester and was very secretive about this route that other has previously been - not even giving away his start or finish points. He is though an accomplished marathon runner, and revealed that he took no buses on the day - all the station to station connections were done on foot by running only.

27th May 2011
270 Stations in 16 hours, 29 minutes, 13 seconds
Andi James & Steve Wilson

Marc's time lasted for just 37 days before being reclaimed by Andi James (for his 4th record time) and Steve Wilson (for his 3rd) who shaved just 44 seconds off of the time.