Page last updated at 00:20 GMT, Sunday, 1 June 2008 01:20 UK

Booze on the Tube ends with a bang

By Gareth Furby
BBC News, Circle Line

The "Last Round on the Underground"
As the drink kicked in, the mood became boisterous

It was dubbed the "Last Round on the Underground" and it began promisingly enough.

Thousands of revellers descended on the Tube, determined to mark the end of drinking on London's public transport system.

From midnight on Saturday, new regulations brought in by the city's new mayor, Boris Johnson, ban alcohol on buses, trains and trams.

Picking up the westbound Circle Line at Liverpool Street at 2000 BST, the mood was jubilant and good natured.

It was a mixed crowd. Some were in black tie, others in going-out outfits, while others decorated the carriages with party paraphernalia.

Some had even come from Scotland - others from Southampton.

I spoke to an accountant, a demolition worker, a student, and several web developers.

Political point

Tube revellers on 'making a statement'

Some had turned up simply to have a good time while others believed they had a political point.

This was a free country, they said, it should be a right to drink on the Tube.

Ross Canzio, a student from Chiswick, west London, said: "I think it's stupid that he's banning it when people are being stabbed every day in London and Boris Johnson decides the big thing to do is ban drinking on the Tube.

There's nothing wrong with having a beer
Unnamed party-goer
"Instead of tackling the wider issues he's trying to make a point."

Ben Kahn, a lecturer in economics from east Finchley, thought London was "supposed to be free".

"You want to close down our rights then we make a demonstration about it. We like freedom! Liberty!

"So they want to close it down, and we go out and make a statement - with a drink."

An accountant, who did not wished to be named, said: "There's a lot of problems with London and drinking on the Tube is not one of them. It's a minor point. It is typical Tory middle class policy.

"So we are here to say 'there's nothing wrong with having a beer'."

Boris gets on

Like the crowds, the drinks were mixed.

Some simply drank from cans of beer, while others hit the vodka and whisky, and sipped cocktails and champagne.

As the train stopped at each station we were joined by groups of revellers. Others moved carriages, flitting between what had become a series of separate parties.

Whenever a new group joined the train there was a huge cheer, but as it progressed round the line people began thumping the roof of the train, battering it with fists and hands.

At one point a protester dressed as Boris Johnson got on, wearing a blond wig and baggy suit.

This time the police were in some force, watching from the balconies

"If you all hate Boris clap your hands" was a popular chant, although the "protesters" didn't just keep their language to pre-watershed standards.

And as the drinks started to take effect, the mood became boisterous.

Passengers who earlier in the evening had enjoyed the spectacle were losing patience.

The looks of irritation on the platform were obvious, while in my carriage one man snatched a cigarette from the hands of party-goer demanding he put it out.

Throughout my two-and-a-half hours on the train I saw only a handful of police officers.

Revellers waiting to join party
Some turned up purely to have a good time

At one station, I think Gloucester Road, two or three officers started to pull people off the train one by one, but only managed to remove a few before the train moved on - to the delight of the people on board.

Later, the lights went out in the carriage and then someone jumped on me and tried to wrestle me to the ground.

We reached the next station, and while I could see my assailant had been joking, it was obvious my camera was attracting too much attention - I returned to Liverpool Street.

There the scene had changed dramatically.

The Underground station was now closed, while about 500 people were milling about on the concourse having an impromptu party there.

This time the police were in some force, watching from the balconies.




SEE ALSO
Tube drinks party sparks mayhem
01 Jun 08 |  London
Johnson bans drink on transport
07 May 08 |  London

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