Ghost stations, sewers, cable conduits, private tube tracks, bunkers. The subterranean city is a honeycomb, and much of it off limits. But not to everyone. Urban explorers have got its measure, squeezing through bars, prising open sewer covers, walking along rails and scrambling over barriers.
This new book offers 120 high quality photographs from this stygian realm, captured by Dr Bradley Garrett and other subterranean adventurers. Garrett argues passionately for greater access to hidden infrastructure that, after all, is mostly funded from the public purse. The book gives a tantalising impression of what it must be like to wander through these spaces with most of the photographs professionally posed and lighted.
The chapters are further illustrated with art by Stephen Walter, who recently created a detailed map of London's lower levels. The accompanying prose tends towards the magniloquent at times, but then structures as impressive as these defy everyday language. If the publishers are looking for a quote to stick on the dust jacket, they can probably attribute the following to absolutely everyone who picks it up: "OMG! Never mind the poo, I really, really want to paddle through London's sewers."
Subterranean London is out now from Prestel Publishing, who also supplied the images.
- We recently interviewed Bradley Garrett on Londonist Out Loud
- Our own expedition in the Mail Rail system
- Inside Brompton Road ghost station