See The Tube’s Newest And Oldest Escalators Together


London Underground has just one remaining wooden escalator. It can be found at Greenford tube station on the Central Line. Today is your last chance to ride this relic, the oldest escalator still running on the network. Its removal and replacement is imminent.

By a quirk of construction timing, the station also contains the network’s newest escalator. If you pop by today, you’ll be able to ride its sparkly new steps up to platform level, then descend on the old wooden escalator. OK, it’s a niche thrill, but we know plenty of people who get excited by such things.

The works are part of efforts to upgrade Greenford station, including provision of step-free access. The sad demise of the last wooden escalator will eventually be tempered by a new claim to fame: the Underground’s only incline lift. This is a kind of funicular railway, running up the gradient between the ticket hall and platforms. A similar machine can be found on the north side of the Millennium Bridge, and Crossrail is set to get its own versions, but Greenford will have the only incline lift on the tube network.

If you can’t make it along today, commemorate the momentous occasion by watching our Geoff travelling on the wooden workhorse.

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  • Geoff Marshall

    you’ll be thrilled to know i will be popping down to Greenford later for a photo!

    • MattFromLondonist

      Of course you are, Geoff. Indeed, those are your feet in the photo above, if I’m not mistaken.

  • bravenewmalden

    I used to love how I could balance my umbrella on the steps of wooden escalators. Its ferrule would fit neatly into the groove.

    • MattFromLondonist

      You just wanted to use the word ferrule.

      • bravenewmalden

        One must grasp these rare opportunities when one can, Matt.

  • Nicole Healing

    Gosh I remember those!

  • Mike Paterson

    I thought they tore this out last year. What time’s Geoff going? I can get to Greenford direct by bus from outside my house.

    • Geoff Marshall

      mike, i’m leaving now and will be there between 3.30/4pm! (escalator flash mob??!)

  • Rob H

    Wooden fuel (the escalators) + accelerant (in the form of lubricant grease) + heat from friction. Wooden escalators don’t sound safe!

  • Geoff Marshall

    Aaaand, I’m back. The delightful CSA Kelly told me that the stopped it running ‘a couple of days ago’. Tensa barriers were up, so it was steps down only, and the shiny new escalator up!

    The middle steps will be replaced too apparently (by what, better steps?) and the wooden escalator gets ripped out as of tomorrow and new accessible escalator contraption starts to go in …

  • jock123

    So glad I managed to get a picture a while back, as can’t make it there today. Always thought there was a nice eccentricity to the fact that it was a wooden escalator, open to the elements, taking you *up* to the platform on the Underground. They should sell it in bits as souvenirs…!

  • Luke Treherne

    I don’t think I have ever ridden on a wooden escalator before , am I missing out on much ?

    • Heather Bates

      Maybe it’s like the wooden rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach which is by far the scariest/grooviest because of its very ricketiness

  • Steven Williamson

    What a shame, the lovely oak escalator at Greenford is much nicer than the steel rubbish