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1996: London Underground Stations

This puzzle referred to the well-known London Underground diagram, a copy of the pocket version of which was enclosed with the card. Each station represented a letter or digit within a word, and each vertical list of stations a word in the message. The puzzle was to find the correspondence. The diagram has squares used for indexing the stations; each station represented the square in which it featured on the diagram, with thirty-six of these squares representing the letters of the alphabet and the digits in a simple fashion, starting in the top-left corner of the diagram:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A A B C D E F G H I B J K L M N O P Q R C S T U V W X Y Z 0 D 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 E F

For example, Mornington Crescent is in square B5 on the diagram, which represented the letter “N” and so on.

It is worth noting that the correspondence between stations and index squares was that for the then-current version of the diagram, which differs from later ones. Recipients who are not familiar with the London Underground (and even some who are) may be surprised to know that the diagram is changed quite frequently. Apart from more obvious changes such as the extensions to the Jubilee Line, the Docklands Light Railway, and the Heathrow end of the Piccadilly Line, the transfer of some National Rail lines to the London Overground and to TfL Rail, and the addition of London Trams, there are small changes, such as to station names or interchange patterns or for temporary closures, which require modifications of the diagram typically a few times a year.

The full message was:

Front page

                           Harrow & Wealdstone
   Buckhurst Hill             Newbury Park    
 Chalfont & Latimer           Theydon Bois    
   Finsbury Park               Hanger Lane    
Highbury & Islington           Park Royal     
   Stepney Green             St John’s Wood   
                              Ruislip Manor   
                             Ealing Broadway  

This translates as:

Inside page

                                   Boston Manor    
    West Ruislip                      Cyprus       
    Belsize Park                   Prince Regent   
   Hendon Central                  Canada Water    

    North Harrow                 Finchley Central  
   Mill Hill East                    Elm Park      
   Ealing Broadway                Caledonian Road  
      Alperton                    West Hampstead   

Great Portland Street             Northwood Hills  
     Grange Hill                    Barkingside    
     Hanger Lane                   Roding Valley   
      Woodford                      Chorleywood    
      Hampstead                 Mornington Crescent
   Ealing Broadway                                 
                                     Moor Park     
Totteridge & Whetstone                Chesham      
    Tufnell Park                    Gants Hill     
    Dagenham East               Harrow-on-the-Hill 
                                  Mill Hill East   
                                 Upminster Bridge  

This translates as:

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Version 28: Revised 13 December 2020
Brian Barker