Sunday, 15 June 2014

London weekend: Aldwych disused tube station

Dating back to 1907, when it first opened as Strand station, the terminus and only station on the short Piccadilly line branch from Holborn that was a relic of the merger of two railway schemes.

Main entrance, along the Strand

In 1915 it was renamed Aldwych, at the same time as the now Charing Cross station was named Strand.

During April 1917 Sunday services ended and later that year the Eastern platform was closed and became disused. This was then utilised to provide storage during a German bombing campaign, for pictures belonging to the National Gallery. Further wartime occurrences, including the Blitz, resulted in the station's use as an air raid shelter, as well as storage for items including the Elgin Marbles.

Platform 1

The station survived further planned closures, maintaining a weekday service until 30th September 1994, when it was finally closed.

What remains here today is largely the original features, although there is a false front ticket office, that was built in 1985; the original one can also be found close to the main entrance.

Public telephones

Both platforms feel a little eerie and of course there is a ghost story, of a woman who haunts the platform area that was never finished. Supposedly the ghost is that of an actress associated with a theatre which was originally sited here, prior to the station being built.

Unfinished and haunted?

What is great about this place, is that it is still maintained for use in films, featuring most recently in the Sherlock series as well as films such as V for Vendetta and Atonement.

Well worth the £25 entry fee, and particularly as access is only granted during a limited period. Unfortunately tickets for the current tours, this month, are already sold out. There was a guy on our tour who had just turned up going for a no show, so it may be possible to get a last minute ticket if you are lucky. 

Otherwise, you will need to keep an eye on the London Transport Museum events page for details of the next planned opening.

Update: Brit Movie Tours now offer a tour of the station on a limited basis. Check out their site here for dates.

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