The London Underground is a familiar sight for just about everybody visiting the city. But despite those ubiquitous circular signs and the Tube featuring heavily in journey plans throughout the capital, there are a number of stations that are no longer frequented by hordes of commuters, tourists and other visitors.
Some 270 stations still function across the Tube network, but around 40 have been closed to the public. This is for a number of reasons, ranging from lower passenger usage to lines being re-routed and replacements built.
Some of the abandoned stations have been converted into other uses, while others can be glimpsed fleetingly from trains as they pass, preserved in the same state as when they closed. A select few, such as Aldwych, are used for film crews wishing to bring the London Underground to life for the screen.
When riding the Piccadilly Line between Knightsbridge and South Kensington you pass within inches of a very special former Tube station. Brompton Road was originally constructed in 1906, but the close proximity of so many other stations meant it was taken out of operation in 1934.
The platforms were bricked up and used as offices and London’s anti-aircraft centre during World War II. The projection screen painted onto one of the platform walls to show information and propaganda films to the staff can still be seen and the Ministry of Defence and Territorial Army make use of these offices to this day.
Long before we were catching glimpses of Aldwych Station in the likes of 28 Weeks Later and The Prodigy’s Firestarter video, it had another important use. It was considered the perfect place to store some of Britain’s most important cultural assets during large conflicts. This led to Aldwych Station housing the National Gallery’s collection of artworks throughout World War I and a number of artefacts from the British Museum in World War II. Even the Elgin Marbles were place down there for safe keeping.
Aldwych Station was considered for various expansion schemes over the years, which never came to fruition. As a result, it suffered from low passenger numbers and was only operational during the week at peak hours from 1962 until it closed altogether in 1994. Its immaculate ticket office, tiles and signs make it the perfect filming location.
Those who know the London Underground well may think that it’s a mistake that Wood Lane is included here, as it is a station on the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines. Well, there is something we can teach you after all, as that station opened in 2008, replacing an earlier Wood Lane terminal, which was located on the Central Line.
From the beginning it was never destined to be around forever, as it was originally built to serve the Franco-British Exhibition and Olympic Games, which were both held in 1908. Despite this, Wood Lane managed to stay open until 1947, when it was replaced by the nearby White City station. To catch a glimpse of the original Wood Lane’s last remaining platform, look left as you enter the tunnel upon leaving White City.
North End is the station that never was, as it was abandoned before even being completed. These days, Tube staff refer to it as The Bull and Bush, which is a pub near the entrance to the station. It was due to be the deepest terminal on the entire Underground network, but work that began in 1903 came to an end in 1906 due to the area above ground being under a conservation order and therefore no station building could be constructed.
Its depth has instead led to the excavated region being maintained for various foreseen emergency procedures. It was, for example, to house London Transport’s emergency headquarters in the case of a nuclear attack in the 1950s and is still a designated emergency exit from the Underground to this day. Glance out of the window between Hampstead and Golders Green and you may be able to see the partially built southbound platform and a staircase leading up to ground level.