Monday, 28 November 2011

Aldwych Tube Station

On Saturday I got the chance to go down Aldwych Tube Station and it was rather intriguing! You can see my photos from the day on flickr

I have always had an interest in that area of London, knowing about the 'hidden' tram tunnel under Kingsway and this closed tube station too. When tickets came up to go down the station I jumped at the chance as it's quite rare to be able to go down!

I was quite surprised that i wasn't surrounded by older men and train spotters while queuing to go in, but rather plenty of people my age and even a lady in a faux fur hat and boots! Obviously the love of the underground is shared by a large variety of people!

The station was opened in 1907, first called Strand, which can still be seen in the tiling, but then it was renamed to Aldwych when the nearest station on the Northern line at Charing Cross became Strand, (later renamed Charing Cross).

Aldwych tube station is on a short spur / branch line from Holborn coming off the modern day Piccadilly Line. The Piccadilly Line was created by the merger of two seperate tube projects. They were linked at Holborn to create the great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway, which was opened between Hammersmith and Finsbury Park. This left the short spur from Holborn to Aldwych, the southern terminus of one of the tubes as originally planned.

The station was designed along with 35 + others by Leslie Green. They all have the dark red glazed brick and terracotta frontages. Each building is on a load bearing steel frame which made it strong enough to take the weight of the lift winding equipment.

Both old Otis lifts are still in Aldwych, but no longer operational, and they are the reason it closed in 1994. It was estimated to cost £3 million plus to replace them! Aldwych was also never busy enough to justify putting in escalators or new lifts.

Aldwych did have two tube tunnels and platforms but only the western platform was used by a two car train, as a shuttle service to Holborn. The problem was trains used to run every 9 minutes plus and you can walk to Holborn in that time from Aldwych!

During WW2 the disused platform was used to store 300+ paintings from the National Gallery and The V&A and the British Museum also used it in 1939/40 to store artefacts including the Elgin Marbles!

You can read more here: Aldwych tube Station

Some video I took can also be viewed here: Thelandofjonny

It was very damp down there, and water was dripping in places. The old posters were of particular fancy and some gave us a laugh due to the current economic climate! It was also really cool to see where they had tested out new tiles for new tube stations such as tiles for Piccadilly Circus and I recognised ones for the Central Line too.

Nowadays the emergency services use it for practice drills and the station is also used for films.

It was well worth the visit and to see it and I did like the part where they told us that if there was a fire or a problem at the top of the stairs, we would have to be evacuated by walking along the track and dark tunnel to Holborn! Now that would have been a story to tell.

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