Aldwych Tube Station – An Abandoned London Underground Station

Aldwych Underground Station

Aldwych Tube Station was a station on the London Underground (commonly referred to as The Tube) which closed in 1994. It was the only station on a branch of the Piccadilly Line from Holborn. It was located in the City of Westminster in London, England.

London Underground Map

A map of the London Undeground showing the branch to Aldwych on the Piccadilly Line (Blue).

A proposal for a station in the area was first put forward by Great Northern and Strand Railway (GN&SR) in November 1898. It was to be the southern terminus of a proposed underground line from Alexandra Palace via King’s Cross. The plan was approved a years later but in 1901, GN&SR was taken over by the Brompton and Piccadilly Circus Railway (B&PCR) and became the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (GNP&BR).

Abandoned Aldwych Station

The Surrey Street façade.

The station, originally called Strand, began construction in October 1905 on the site of the Royal Strand Theatre which has closed earlier in the year and been demolished. The above ground portion of the building is L-shaped with façades on Strand and Surrey Street. It was constructed in the same style as many stations of the time with a two-storey steel frame structure faced with red glazed terracotta blocks.

Entrance to abandoned Aldwych Underground Station

The Strand façade.

The platforms were constructed 92 feet (28 metres) below street level and were decorated in distinctive cream and dark green tiles. The platforms were shorter than other GNP&BR stations and  the platform walls were not decorated in their entirety as it was planned to operate shorter trains on the branch line.

The GNP&BR’s main route opened on 15 December 1906 with the branch opening almost a year later on 30 November 1907. The station was initially named Strand. Shuttle trains operated to Holborn initially, using the eastern platform only. An additional train operated in the western tunnel at peak times. Low usage meant that the second shuttle service was removed and the eastern tunnel closed in 1914.

Aldwych Underground Tunnel

Inside one of the abandoned tunnels used by passengers to get to and from the platforms.

In 1915, the station was renamed Aldwych as part of a renaming of other underground stations in the area. Sunday services ended in 1917 and the eastern platform and bay at Holborn were closed. The disused platform was used to store 300 paintings from the National Gallery during World War I after the Germans bombed London.

In October 1922, the tickets office was closed and a facility was placed in the lifts instead. The station was considered for closure in 1929 and again in 1933 as usage remained low. The branch was eventually closed during World War II on 22 September 1940 as London began to be bombarded by German bombers during The Blitz. The station was retro-fitted to serve as an air-raid shelter and the tunnels were used to store valuables from the British Museum including the Elgin Marbles.

Abandoned underground tunnel Aldwych London

The platform is maintained for filming purposes. Note the same location as the V for Vendetta scene below.

The station reopened in July 1946 but usage remained low. It was announced in 1958 that the station would be closed but it again managed to survive, albeit with a reduced Monday to Friday service. By the 1990s, the lifts were in desperate need of replacing and with an estimated cost of €3 million, it was deemed not to be justifiable given the low passenger numbers. Aldwych Tube Station finally closed on 30 September 1994. It was given Grade II listed building status in 2011.

V for Vendetta

A scene from V for Vendetta staring Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving, filmed at Aldwych Underground Station

Since its closure, Aldwych has been used for filming purposes. V For Vendetta, Fast & Furious 6 and 28 Weeks Later have all been shot in the station. The track and infrastructure are maintained in operational condition, and a train of ex-Northern line 1972 tube stock is permanently stabled on the branch. This train can be driven up and down the branch for filming. A much modified version of the station appears as a level in the video game Tomb Raider III. The music video for The Prodigy’s song Firestarter was filmed in the disused eastern tunnel and one of the unused lift shafts. The TV show Most Haunted featured Aldwych Tube Station back in their first series. Indeed, before its closure, many people spoke of ghosts and paranormal activity.

Location: London, England

Abandoned: 1994

 

 

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