Aldwych Disused Station

When the London Transport Museum released their 2018 Hidden London schedule, the Aldwych end of the line tour started on the day we were due to fly back.  Oh no!  I noticed Brit Movie Tours also offers this tour on occasion and as luck would have it they were running one (literally just one) on the day before we left.  

If you are interested in any of these tours I would strongly advise signing up to the email lists of both companies so you can be alerted when tickets go on sale.  

It was extremely easy to find our meeting spot as the original facade of both entrances is still very visible from the street.  Note the design and colour similarities to the old Euston station, both are by architect Leslie Green.

After our lovely guide signed us in we got straight down to business and stepped inside the locked station.  Most Tube stations are extremely warm however this disused one was quite chilly.  Don't worry, the 160 stair climb back up from the platforms heats you up a great deal.  

We start the tour in the lobby.

Strand station opened in 1907, in 1915 it was renamed Aldwych and one of its two platforms was closed through lack of use shortly after.  The entire station was eventually closed in 1994.  It has been used as a storage facility for National Gallery paintings during WW1, British Museum artifacts during WW2, an air raid shelter and since closure as a movie location.  It has a fascinating history.

These are the original telephone booths.  Minus telephones.

There are no functioning elevators which means descending this fantastic staircase to reach the platform level.

Aldwych is off a spur on the Piccadilly Line.  (Russell Square is another station I particularly love for its architecture, steep spiral staircase and intricate signage.  A working version of Aldwych if you will.)

Pic from the London Transport Museum

Before continuing down to the platforms we had a look at the old elevator area.  This section definitely felt abandoned with water seeping through the tiles.  The Prodigy shot parts of their Firestarter video in one of the abandoned lift shafts, they are through closed grates to the left in this picture.  There are three shafts but only one (for the two elevators stationed in the lobby) was ever used.

Taken through one of the grates.

Do you recognize the stairs behind Mr Flint here?

Another closed off area leading to the other lift shafts.

A perfectly atmospheric tunnel leads to the platform.  I believe this has been freshened up for filming based on some older reviews I read.

The first platform (West) has a 1970's Northern Line train parked at it.  It can actually be moved along the track for filming purposes, or back into a tunnel to be out of sight.

We are even allowed on board!  It's dark, quiet and a little eerie - I love it.  The poster has been left on the far station wall from filming.  Not sure what....

Here we learn Martin Freeman behaved like a big blouse when getting down onto the line during the filming of Sherlock.  The group loves this.  Our guide shows us a number of clips from movies/TV shows filmed here including V for Vendetta, Atonement and Patriot Games.  One of the tunnel scenes in 28 Weeks Later was also shot here.

The infected are coming!  Run!  *I have no idea which tunnel was used for filming.  This one leads to Holborn.

The train number is interesting.

This end of the platform was left undecorated as the working station was served by shorter two car trains, note the brick ceiling and the modern addition of the Aldwych sign starting to peel off.  The only posters typically up are leftovers from recent filming.  

Back up the stairs, the original paint is flaking off the ceiling.

The second platform (East) was actually closed down first in 1917.  It has a mix of posters put up to test out glue and adhesives.  The track is not live.

Petticoats and pastries, separates and sausage rolls, lipsticks and lemonade!  DH Evans became House of Fraser in 2001.

You can see the original Strand tiling underneath.

We are all able to walk on the track which is very exciting.

Don't trip over anything.

Yes, let's join the EEC.  Oh wait.

This area was used to try out different patterns and tiling for other stations through the years.

My favourite sign of the day.

Are you coming?  No, I'm taking pictures.  Obviously.

Before hitting the stair climb all the lights are put out so we can see the reflective risers.  I rather enjoyed being down there in the dark.  Now that would be a fantastic and eerie tour.

Back in the lobby trying to breathe after the climb.  This is one of the two original elevators.  They were operational until 1994 but the cost to update/replace them was so high it was finally decided just to close the station down.  Passenger numbers had always been low.

The lobby is also used for filming, many of the features are original but it can be hard to tell if something was added/redecorated or freshened up/distressed for that purpose.

This 1930's sign is original.

Aldwych was a fascinating tour.  It did not have the frozen in time feel the Euston tunnels had and interestingly what you see on the west platform is dependent on recent filming.  We explored an entire closed off station and I find that remarkable.  Step off the busy London streets into a hidden sanctuary where people escaped air strikes, movies were made, Sherlock solved crimes and Keith Flint's hair defied gravity.  Definitely take this tour if you get the opportunity.

Euston: Lost Tunnels tour review.


Popular Posts