What Shall We Do With The Old Tube Station?

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 90 months ago
What Shall We Do With The Old Tube Station?


Transport nerds will have been thrilled over the weekend when Ian Visits tweeted details of a rare item that will be up for auction later this year: a disused Tube station, yours for around £180,000.

The station in question is Shoreditch, the northern terminus of the old East London line. The station closed in 2006, and while the rest of the line re-opened last year as part of the London Overground network, poor old Shoreditch, marooned on a spur adjacent to the line into Liverpool Street and only ever open for a few hours each day, was replaced by Shoreditch High Street.

With news of the auction reaching us in the same week that a local entrepreneur once again outlined his quixotic plan to re-open disused Tube stations as tourist attractions, we got to thinking: what else are the capital's many pieces of superannuated railway infrastructure being used for? Below are all the ones we could think of. There are probably many others, so please let us known in the comments, along with any suggestions (plausible or otherwise) for what Shoreditch station could be turned into.

Shoreditch station in June 2006, its last day of operation. The entire cutting has been filled in to support the ramp for Overground trains between Whitechapel and Shoreditch High Street.
Shoreditch station in June 2006, its last day of operation. The entire cutting has been filled in to support the ramp for Overground trains between Whitechapel and Shoreditch High Street.
The interior of Shoreditch station, during its final months. Photo / munksynz
The interior of Shoreditch station, during its final months. Photo / munksynz
Shoreditch railway station, which closed in 1940; it is now home to a bar called The Old Shoreditch Station.
Shoreditch railway station, which closed in 1940; it is now home to a bar called The Old Shoreditch Station.
South Kentish Town operated for a mere 18 years, closing permanently in 1924. A branch of Cash Converters now operates from the old station. Photo / Justinc
South Kentish Town operated for a mere 18 years, closing permanently in 1924. A branch of Cash Converters now operates from the old station. Photo / Justinc
The former ticket hall at Fulham Broadway station currently operates as the Union Market.
The former ticket hall at Fulham Broadway station currently operates as the Union Market.
The entrance to the Necropolis railway, which was once the departure point for coffins on their way to Brockwood Cemetery. It is now the office of the Transmarine Shipping Agency.
The entrance to the Necropolis railway, which was once the departure point for coffins on their way to Brockwood Cemetery. It is now the office of the Transmarine Shipping Agency.
The former Northern Heights railway, now the Parkland Walkway. These two platforms are the remains of Crouch End station. Photo / fezpp
The former Northern Heights railway, now the Parkland Walkway. These two platforms are the remains of Crouch End station. Photo / fezpp
The original entrance at Hyde Park Corner; until recently, the building was a pizza restaurant, and is now being converted into a new hotel, The Wellesley, a render of which is pictured here.
The original entrance at Hyde Park Corner; until recently, the building was a pizza restaurant, and is now being converted into a new hotel, The Wellesley, a render of which is pictured here.
Down Street station, with its current occupier, the Mayfair mini mart
Down Street station, with its current occupier, the Mayfair mini mart
The original entrance to Chancery Lane station, now an apartment lobby and vacant retail units.
The original entrance to Chancery Lane station, now an apartment lobby and vacant retail units.
Marlborough Road station, in its Chinese restaurant days. Photo / Oxyman
Marlborough Road station, in its Chinese restaurant days. Photo / Oxyman
Old Jubilee line carriages on part of the old Broad Street viaduct; they are now part of Village Underground. Photo / She Treads Upon Serpents
Old Jubilee line carriages on part of the old Broad Street viaduct; they are now part of Village Underground. Photo / She Treads Upon Serpents
There are plans to turn the old entrance to Blackfriars Road station into this cafe.
There are plans to turn the old entrance to Blackfriars Road station into this cafe.

Shoreditch Railway Station

Confusingly, Shoreditch isn't the first station of that name to be re-opened as something else. Shoreditch railway station was part of a line that ran from Broad Street station (where the Broadgate complex now sits) to Dalston. The station closed in 1940, and the entire line was mothballed in 1986*. It is currently home to a cafe / bar, called (appropriately enough) the Old Shoreditch Station.

South Kentish Town

This underused Northern line station between Camden Town and Kentish Town had a short, uneventful life: it opened in 1907 but, after closing during a strike in 1924, never reopened. Things haven't improved in retirement — the station building has housed a branch of Cash Converters for many years. Abandoned Stations has some photographs from a 2008 visit.

Fulham Broadway

Still a fully-functioning station, but Fulham Broadway's original ticket hall was replaced in 2003 by an entrance within a shopping centre. However, the old ticket hall is a listed building, and it has survived as commercial premises: it was previously home to a branch of T.G.I. Fridays, and more recently, the Union Market, which we visited last year.

Necropolis Railway

This beautiful building on Westminster Bridge Road was the departure point for the Necropolis railway, which opened in 1854 to run trainloads of coffins (and attendant mourners) out to Brookwood Cemetery. Owing to the city's rapid growth, burial plots in were at a premium, hence the London Necropolis Company was formed to help get bodies out of the Big Smoke. After declining in use, the station's platforms were hit by a German bomb in 1941 and never rebuilt. The building remains standing, and is now home to a firm called Transmarine Shipping Agencies Ltd.

Northern Heights Railway

If finding a new use for a station isn't enough, how about a whole railway? The line between Finsbury Park Highgate, part of the Edgware, Highgate and London Railway, was to be expanded in the 1930s under the Northern Heights plan, but the project was suspended upon the outcome of the Second World War, and dropped for good in the 1950s. The line continued to run freight services until it was closed in 1970, before being turned into the Parkland Walk, a local nature reserve. Re-opening the line has, however, never entirely been ruled out: there are people out there who won't rest until they've put Crouch End and Muswell Hill on the Tube map.

Whitechapel Station

Those forced to crowd into and out of Whitechapel during rush hour might not be best pleased to learn that the station's narrow entrance was once a lot bigger. In the late 1800s, there were two stations, side by side: one (the Whitechapel & Mile End) served the District line, while the other (Whitechapel) served the East London line. The former is now occupied by a cafe. Some good news for Whitechapel regulars: the station will be rebuilt for Crossrail, but things are going to get worse before they get better.

Hyde Park Corner

When it opened in 1906, Hyde Park Corner had a reassuringly familiar terracotta tiled entranceway designed by Leslie Green. However, it was permanently closed in 1930, when the current entrance, with escalators down to platform level replacing the lifts, was opened. Until the middle of 2010, the old entrance was operated as a restaurant, Pizza On The Park. It is currently being converted into the Wellesley, bombastically dubbed "London's first six-star hotel", which seems to retain much of the station's frontage.

Brompton Road

Closed in 1934 due to its proximity to Knightsbridge and Hyde Park Corner, Brompton Road (another Leslie Green design) was used during WWII as an anti-aircraft control centre, then a base for the Territorial Army. It is still administered by the MoD, and despite the best efforts of a local lawyer to get the station re-opened, it's likely to remain closed for the foreseeable future.

Down Street

Another closed-down station on the Piccadilly line, Down Street (between Hyde Park Corner and Green Park) is now occupied by a small newsagent, called the Mayfair Mini Mart. However, Down Street had a proud role during the War, when it was used by Winston Churchill and the War Cabinet. Underground History has a photographs from a 2000 tour of the station.

Chancery Lane

Like Hyde Park Corner, Chancery Lane lost its original entrance when a new, sub-surface ticket hall was built to incorporate new escalators in the 1930s. The original station building was converted into shops; more recently it has been christened Chancery Station House, and forms the lobby to a private apartment block (the neighbouring retail units have long been empty). The site also houses the entranceway to the Kingsway telephone exchange.

Marlborough Road

A station on the Metropolitan line between Baker Street and Finchley Road, Marlborough Road closed in 1939 and was replaced by nearby St John's Wood station (originally part of the Bakerloo line but now a Jubilee line station). For many years the station building was occupied by a restaurant, the Royal China, but this closed in 2009, and it will be used as part of an substation to help power the new Metropolitan line trains. Naturally, Abandoned Stations has been there.

Blake Hall

Located out in Essex, Blake Hall was once part of the Central line, on a stretch of track that is now operated as the Epping Ongar Railway. It was closed in 1981 due to lack of use (reputedly on some days it attracted as few as six passengers), however, the station building remains, and has been converted into a private home.

Blackfriars Road

This station between Charing Cross and London Bridge opened in 1864 but closed five years later when Waterloo East opened. However, the stenciled wording on the entrance remains to this day. It is currently home to a small newsagent, but there are ambitious plans to transform it into a glass-fronted cafe.

Village Underground

Not technically a closed station, but we've included it anyway: these old Jubilee line carriages will be familiar to Shoreditch regulars. They sit on a marooned piece of the old viaduct into Broad Street station (the same stretch that Shoreditch railway station used to serve), and are part of Village Underground.

Deptford Project

Another converted train carriage, this is now a cafe in southeast London; we visited last year and were impressed with the coffee.

Main photograph of Shoreditch station ticket hall by munksynz, used under Creative Commons 2.0 licence.

All other photographs by the author, unless stated otherwise.

*This piece originally stated, inaccurately, that Shoreditch railway station closed in 1986.

Last Updated 09 February 2011