Tag Archives: hidden london

Hidden London returns!

London Transport Museum have announced a new run of bookings for their fabulous Hidden London tours, which give the public access to disused stations, platforms and buildings with a connection to the Underground.

I reported back from Charing Cross in March 2016 but have also visited the tours at Aldwych, Euston, Clapham South (former air-raid shelters), 55 Broadway (above St James’s Park Station), Down Street, and Highgate (High Level).

Here is a taster of what to expect on each tour. They are all fascinating in their own way and give an insight into those interesting hidden spaces.

Charing Cross: Access All Areas

Euston: The Lost Tunnels (visited 19th June 2016)

This is the one which should be the top of your list, as both the Drummond Street entrance to the station, and the platforms included in the tour, are included in the space planned for transformation in the work for the new HS2 line.

Disused entrance to Euston Station, Drummond Street
Disused entrance to Euston Station, Drummond Street
1960s posters at Euston Station
1960s posters at Euston Station
Train travel posters at Euston Station
At the top of the steps descending into Euston Station from Drummond Street entrance
At the top of the steps descending into Euston Station from Drummond Street entrance

Clapham South: Subterranean Shelter Tour (visited 14th August 2016)

This is a trip into the deep level shelters utilised both for the Second World War as air-raid shelters, and as accommodation for immigrants during the Windrush generation. Although the shelters are now used for storage and little of the original furnishings are in situ, it is possible to get a sense of the communities which grew below ground.

Steps leading from Clapham South shelter into the main station
Steps leading from Clapham South shelter into the main station
Power board from Clapham South shelter
Power board from Clapham South shelter

Down Street: Churchill’s Secret Station (visited 7th August 2016)

Once a stop on the main Piccadilly line serving well-heeled Mayfair, this station closed in the 1930s and was converted into a set of offices and accommodation for the Prime Minister and civil servants during the Second World War.

Detail of direction sign to Finsbury Park from Down Street station
Detail of direction sign to Finsbury Park from Down Street station
Office accommodation within Down Street station
Office accommodation within Down Street station
Ghost sign of "To the trains" and direction sign to wartime offices at Down Street station
Ghost sign of “To the trains” and direction sign to wartime offices at Down Street station

Highgate: Wilderness Walkabout (visited 3rd September 2017)

Highgate’s high-level station was on the line now known as the Northern Heights walk, between Alexandra Palace and Finsbury Park. It was meant to be electrified and included in the London Underground during the 1940s, but the plans were abandoned during the war. The tunnels at Highgate are now utilised to house bats, and the station is slowly returning to nature.

Platform at Highgate high-level station
Platform at Highgate high-level station
Entrance to former train tunnel, now bat project, at Highgate high-level station
Entrance to former train tunnel, now bat project, at Highgate high-level station
From Highgate high-level station booking hall down to current Highgate station
From Highgate high-level station booking hall down to current Highgate station

55 Broadway: London’s First Skyscraper (visited 9th October 2016)

This is a tour around a couple of floors within the headquarters of London Underground, above St James’s Park station. It includes a trip to the roof of the building with views across London.

Original doors within 55 Broadway
Original doors within 55 Broadway
Train information indicators within reception of 55 Broadway
Train information indicators within reception of 55 Broadway
Staircase in 55 Broadway
Staircase in 55 Broadway

Aldwych: End of the Line (visited 28th June 2014)

I have not visited as part of Hidden London but on one of the earlier themed trips, which give a flavour of the former Piccadilly line station (closed in 1994).

You can find out more about the tours available between April and September 2019 (including a couple of film screenings) at Hidden London.

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Hidden London: Charing Cross – access all areas

There’s something oddly interesting about disused, abandoned, or dormant spaces on the London Underground.  There are several stations which are completely closed and which survive in various states of repair, but Charing Cross is of course a working station still, home to the Northern and Bakerloo lines, and, until 1999, to the aborted final section of the original Jubilee line (formerly Fleet).

charingcross4

Where the line now goes from Green Park on towards Waterloo it once terminated here, and the station itself came about from a combination of the old Trafalgar Square (Bakerloo) and Strand (Northern) stations.  (Strand, you may recall, was the original name of the station which became Aldwych, which was itself closed in 1994).

charingcross1

This tour takes in the former Jubilee platforms (with the fake adverts set up for filming, and the lighting and decorating experiments), including the escalator where Daniel Craig slid down for Skyfall.  We also visit the ventilation tower (which you can see from the outside, on Craven Street), and the construction tunnel where the spoil from the creation of the Jubilee extension was taken away by narrow gauge rail under Trafalgar Square.

charingcross2

The guides are enthusiastic and knowledgeable, making even the wearing of hard hats or the passing through louvre doors interesting.  The world behind closed doors, and above working platforms, is there to be explored.  Highly recommended.

charingcross3


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