Mind the gap

Nuggets – bite size chunks of London

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.
Mind the Gap in mosaic tiling