Taking a GAP year in the UK and wondering what all this “Mind the GAP” business is about?
It’s a term that is well coined around the streets of London with either the excited tourist buying up ‘Mind the gap’ merch for gifts to bring back home or the locals (and more than likely plenty of Australians and Kiwis in the UK too!) grumbling after they have heard it for the millionth time! So, what is it all about and where did this famous phrase come from?
Well it has been around for over 5 decades with it first being introduced in 1968 in good old London town, and more specifically its intricate underground train system, to keep its community and commuters alike safe!
You see the London Underground (or better known as the Tube) consists of many many platforms and many many trains that pass through its various tunnels and intertwined passageways. So, when said train is coming in on a platform that is curved yet the moving vehicle is straight (as most trains are) an unsafe gap is formed. Or on platforms where there is a gap between the height of the train and the landing itself and vice versa.
There was no genius at the time (or even now) that could come up with a device to fill the varying sized gaps, therefore a need arose for some sort of visual and auditory phrase to warn passages that there could be a gap between their platform and the train they were about to embark on. That they could fall into the gap and injure themselves. And what better way to instantly and quickly warn passengers then shouting ‘Mind the gap’ both as an audio and in printed form on the platform.
So there you go... that is where the phrase began, and it is now a common warning seen all throughout the UK and even on the Dart in Dublin, Ireland!
On the train: "Please mind the gap between the train and the platform.”
On the platform: “Your train is now arriving. Please mind the gap.”
Quick bit of trivia…. did you know that the first actor they assigned to record the ‘Please mind the gap’ message wanted royalties for each time the recording was used. Can you imagine the money he would have made with the recording being played thousands of times a day! His services were of course no longer required, and a staff member from the London Underground was dutifully asked to voice the recording. However, while said employee was on their way to record the saying the sound engineer that was to record it, Peter Lodge, did a few test runs of his own voice it to check the sound level. Upon hearing the recording the staff member decided Peter’s version was perfect as it was so they used his recording instead and history was made!