What is the only station on the London Underground that contains the letter Z? That is my favourite trivia question, and I won’t tell you the answer just yet. (It’s much further down in this piece.) It’s also (here in London at least) the best question I know for assessing someone else’s approach to quizzing, and their interest in it. Here’s how:
- If someone gets the answer straight away it means that they have either heard the question before (and remembered the answer) or they have worked it out incredibly quickly. Either way they would almost certainly be a good addition to a quiz team.
- If the response is, “Hang on, I know this one, let me think, uh …”, they might get it sooner or later, but they can’t be relied upon to come up with the answers to other questions immediately. They might be a good addition to a quiz team, but it’s not as clear-cut as someone who got the answer immediately.
- Finally, if the response to the question is anything like, “Oh, for God’s sake, how should I know, and why should I care?” that person is probably not going to enjoy an evening of quizzing, so don’t add them to your quiz team.
Are you ready for the answer yet? Look away if you still need time to work it out, or to remember it. It appears in the next paragraph.
So, what is the only station on the London Underground that contains the letter Z? It’s Belsize Park. This question has led me to wonder how many station names you would need to complete the alphabet (to create a pangram from station names), or rather: What is the smallest number of stations that you would need to make sure that all 26 letters of the alphabet are included at least once? I have asked this question of people who have far more experience of computer programming than I have, and whether they could come up with a program or routine to work it out. Would it come up with the same answer as me, using my memory, a list of tube stations, and a spreadsheet? Could you come up with an answer? You will need the 269 station names, and they’re listed at the end of this piece, separated with commas. The only station that has to be included is Belsize Park (otherwise there’s no Z) but for all other letters you have a choice of at least three stations. Give it a go, or if you can’t be bothered my own solution appears here.
Station names in alphabetical order
Acton Town, Aldgate, Aldgate East, Alperton, Amersham, Angel, Archway, Arnos Grove, Arsenal, Baker Street, Balham, Bank, Barbican, Barking, Barkingside, Barons Court, Bayswater, Becontree, Belsize Park, Bermondsey, Bethnal Green, Blackfriars, Blackhorse Road, Bond Street, Borough, Boston Manor, Bounds Green, Bow Road, Brent Cross, Brixton, Bromley-by-Bow, Buckhurst Hill, Burnt Oak, Caledonian Road, Camden Town, Canada Water, Canary Wharf, Canning Town, Cannon Street, Canons Park, Chalfont & Latimer, Chalk Farm, Chancery Lane, Charing Cross, Chesham, Chigwell, Chiswick Park, Chorleywood, Clapham Common, Clapham North, Clapham South, Cockfosters, Colindale, Colliers Wood, Covent Garden, Croxley, Dagenham East, Dagenham Heathway, Debden, Dollis Hill, Ealing Broadway, Ealing Common, Earl’s Court, East Acton, East Finchley, East Ham, East Putney, Eastcote, Edgware, Edgware Road, Edgware Road, Elephant & Castle, Elm Park, Embankment, Epping, Euston, Euston Square, Fairlop, Farringdon, Finchley Central, Finchley Road, Finsbury Park, Fulham Broadway, Gants Hill, Gloucester Road, Golders Green, Goldhawk Road, Goodge Street, Grange Hill, Great Portland Street, Green Park, Greenford, Gunnersbury, Hainault, Hammersmith, Hammersmith, Hampstead, Hanger Lane, Harlesden, Harrow & Wealdstone, Harrow-on-the-Hill, Hatton Cross, Heathrow Terminal 4, Heathrow Terminal 5, Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3, Hendon Central, High Barnet, High Street Kensington, Highbury & Islington, Highgate, Hillingdon, Holborn, Holland Park, Holloway Road, Hornchurch, Hounslow Central, Hounslow East, Hounslow West, Hyde Park Corner, Ickenham, Kennington, Kensal Green, Kensington (Olympia), Kentish Town, Kenton, Kew Gardens, Kilburn, Kilburn Park, King’s Cross St. Pancras, Kingsbury, Knightsbridge, Ladbroke Grove, Lambeth North, Lancaster Gate, Latimer Road, Leicester Square, Leyton, Leytonstone, Liverpool Street, London Bridge, Loughton, Maida Vale, Manor House, Mansion House, Marble Arch, Marylebone, Mile End, Mill Hill East, Monument, Moor Park, Moorgate, Morden, Mornington Crescent, Neasden, Newbury Park, North Acton, North Ealing, North Greenwich, North Harrow, North Wembley, Northfields, Northolt, Northwick Park, Northwood, Northwood Hills, Notting Hill Gate, Oakwood, Old Street, Osterley, Oval, Oxford Circus, Paddington, Park Royal, Parsons Green, Perivale, Piccadilly Circus, Pimlico, Pinner, Plaistow, Preston Road, Putney Bridge, Queen’s Park, Queensbury, Queensway, Ravenscourt Park, Rayners Lane, Redbridge, Regent’s Park, Richmond, Rickmansworth, Roding Valley, Royal Oak, Ruislip, Ruislip Gardens, Ruislip Manor, Russell Square, Seven Sisters, Shepherd’s Bush, Shepherd’s Bush Market, Sloane Square, Snaresbrook, South Ealing, South Harrow, South Kensington, South Kenton, South Ruislip, South Wimbledon, South Woodford, Southfields, Southgate, Southwark, St. James’s Park, St. John’s Wood, St. Paul’s, Stamford Brook, Stanmore, Stepney Green, Stockwell, Stonebridge Park, Stratford, Sudbury Hill, Sudbury Town, Swiss Cottage, Temple, Theydon Bois, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tottenham Court Road, Tottenham Hale, Totteridge & Whetstone, Tower Hill, Tufnell Park, Turnham Green, Turnpike Lane, Upminster, Upminster Bridge, Upney, Upton Park, Uxbridge, Vauxhall, Victoria, Walthamstow Central, Wanstead, Warren Street, Warwick Avenue, Waterloo, Watford, Wembley Central, Wembley Park, West Acton, West Brompton, West Finchley, West Ham, West Hampstead, West Harrow, West Kensington, West Ruislip, Westbourne Park, Westminster, White City, Whitechapel, Willesden Green, Willesden Junction, Wimbledon, Wimbledon Park, Wood Green, Wood Lane, Woodford, Woodside Park