Mind the gap
‘Mind the gap’ is the most famous recorded announcement on the London Underground network. The necessity for the warning arises when inevitably straight-carriaged trains arrive at stations with curving platforms, upon which the cautionary advice is often stencilled or mosaic tiled. The brevity of the phrase has been said to derive from the limitations of solid-state digital recording technology when it was first introduced in the late 1960s – though Hidden London is uncertain whether this is correct. T-shirts and various gift items bearing the message have become popular tourist souvenirs.
“A voice came over the loudspeaker, that formal, disembodied male voice that warned ‘Mind the Gap’. It was intended to keep unwary passengers from stepping into the space between the train and the platform. Richard, like most Londoners, barely heard it anymore – it was like aural wallpaper.”
Neil Gaiman: Neverwhere (1996)
The words ‘Caution: Gap’ have recently appeared on some tube station platforms instead of ‘Mind the gap’. Hidden London doesn’t know why this is. Perhaps it’s a response to the ‘aural [and visual] wallpaper’ phenomenon. If passengers had stopped noticing the ‘Mind the gap’ signs Transport for London may have felt the need to warn them in a fresh way.