Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Aldwych Tube Station Tour

As some of you know, I was a history major at Syracuse. Part of the history major requirements was to take a senior seminar course in a subject area and produce an original thesis.  My subject area was Britain during the War, and I chose to write on the use of the Underground (tube) during the Blitz. I specifically looked at how sheltering in the tube did not break down social classes, but rather reinforced them. It was an interesting subject area, and one that I continue to read about.

At the same time, when I studied abroad in 2010, I became very interested in the tube. I spent tons of time reading about closed tube stations, the history of the tube, and interesting facts. For example, at Sloane Square, there is a tunnel that runs above the tracks that houses a small river that feeds into the Thames. There are also two disused platforms at Holborn Station. I could go on and on... I've done the London Transport Museum several times, and I've even read the ghost stories about the tube!

So, what does this all have to do with a blog post?

A few weeks ago, I got to tour the disused Aldwych Tube Station with a few friends! Aldwych Station closed to the public in 1994, and it is rarely open for tours. We grabbed tickets as soon as we saw it was announced. I had been trying to get a tour of a disused station for years!

Old Ticket Hall 
Aldwych initially opened in 1907 named the Strand. It was later renamed Aldwych once Charing Cross received the name Strand as well.  For the most part, the Station served as a shuttle train to Holborn station.  Even during construction, there were parts of the station never completed due to the fact that the initial passenger numbers were so low. Eventually, the shuttle service was only used during peak-hours. Aldwych closed in 1994 due to the expensive repairs the station required.

The first part of the tour led us down the spiral staircase to where the lift shafts were. We were able to see that one entire lift shaft was never completed during construction.

Elevator Shaft


From there, we were taken to the only operational station platform. If need be, it could still run today after a few minor repairs.

Platform 


Next Train Sign 
The platform was holding an old Northern Line train for us to peak into. As for this platform, it is the one commonly used for filming. The posters on this platform were used for old films. Some famous films that have been shot in Aldwych include Atonement and Mr. Selfridge.

We were then quickly ushered to the other platform. This platform had been out of use for longer than when the station used in 1994. Some parts of the track still remain due to the quality of wood used.



Time Standing Still 
Much of this platform is used for testing by Transport for London, now. There were a variety of tile patterns visible as well as paint schemes.

This platform was heavily used during the Blitz. This platform could shelter between 3000-6000 people on any given night.

This platform also allowed us to see some posters from days gone by as well as how Aldwych was initially known as the Strand.




We completed the tour by climbing the stairs back up to the street level to see the elevators (lifts) that were once used in the station.


This was one of the biggest things on my London Bucket List, and I was so glad to cross it off before I left!