“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

London's Lost Stations

In London there are many visible clues to parts of the subterranean city that have fallen into disuse over the years and which are no longer accessible to the general public. Three of the most well-known abandoned “stations” in London are Aldwych Station, Brompton Road Station and the Tower Subway.

Aldwych (Strand) Station

Aldwych Station is a Grade II Listed London Underground Station that first opened in 1907, initially named as Strand Station, and closed in 1994. The station is located near the junction of The Strand and Surrey Street and is just around the corner from “The Strand’s Roman Bath”. The station’s closure in 1994 was a result of low passenger numbers and high maintenance costs, which made the station too uneconomical to remain in operation. Even when the station was still operational the fact that it closed at weekends made it an ideal location for film makers. As a result a multitude of films have made use of the station, including: Battle of Britain, The Krays, Patriot Games, V for Vendetta & 28 Weeks Later, amongst many others. Today the track and infrastructure are maintained in an operational condition and can still be used when required for filming.

Aldwych Station's Strand entrance.

Brompton Road Station

Brompton Road Station opened in 1906 and closed in 1934. The station was closed after just 28 years because of its close proximity to both Knightsbridge and South Kensington stations, which resulted in low passenger numbers passing through Brompton Road.

Prior to the outbreak of the Second World War the station building was sold to the War Office and the building was used by the Royal Artillery as its anti-aircraft operations room for central London during the Biltz. The Royal Artillery eventually retired from Brompton Road during the 1950’s.

It seems that Brompton Road may soon disappear from the London landscape. It is reported that in 2013 the MoD sold the building to a private investor and the proposed future of the station is as a block of residential flats!

Brompton Road Station.

Tower Subway

The small brick tower pictured below is the entrance to a tunnel which crosses underneath the River Thames. The tunnel runs between Tower Hill (on the north side of the river) and Vine Lane (on the south side of the river) and was built in 1869. The tunnel was initially fitted with a railway line and a cable-hauled carriage to transport passengers from one side of the tunnel to the other. This was only a temporary installation however, and the tunnel was soon converted to pedestrian use. It is estimated that one million people a year used this toll tunnel to cross under the river until 1894 when Tower Bridge was opened. Tower Bridge (which has a hidden chimney) was free to cross, so people opted to use the bridge as opposed to paying a toll to cross under the river. The tunnel was eventually closed in 1898 and is today used for various utilities.

Tower Subway.

Beyond the above three stations there is a whole host of other abandoned stations in London, as this rather interesting Ghost Map of the London Underground shows. So when walking the streets of London keep an eye open for clues to other hidden locations beneath your feet.

Pictures, London (May 2012).

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