Growing up in London you can sometimes feel that you know it very well, but even after 25 years of living North, South, East and West and as far about as N1 and TW12, London is still full of surprises at every turn. It is important to remember that just because something is familiar, it does not mean that you know a thing about it and just because you can walk the streets above ground and think you know them, how can you know the mysteries of what is below your feet?
That is why it was with excitement that I took the opportunity to snap up some very special tickets to explore disused Aldwych underground station.
The station was only closed to passengers in 1994, which is of course relatively recently by tube station standards, however due to its low usage throughout its operational years, it is an excellent example of many original features from stations of the early 1900s, as well as having some fascinating and unique historical points of its own.
The attractive wooden boarding around the ticket offices and elsewhere in the station is the original fitting from 1907, the wooden lift too with its operators booth, is a unique relic from a bygone era.
The guide was keen to tell us about the Aldwych station’s ‘contribution’ in the war effort, storing painting from National Galleries as well as providing shelter for people by night, on and around the track.
We were mostly more interested in the station’s current usage however, as a set for TV and film including Sherlock, a couple of James Bond’s and V for Vendetta.
Peering down shafts and walking past locked doors, it seemed clear to me that the station housed many more secrets… but I wasn’t about to go wandering off. As well lit as the parts they let us see were (although still bathed in that dingy yellow-orange light, pre-dating white fluorescent we are used to) I didn’t much fancy being trapped down there until the next open day!
A tube carriage from the 1970s. Wooden floor(!)