The Lost London Tube Map

By M@ Last edited 38 months ago
The Lost London Tube Map
A tube map showing vanished buildings and features.

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Imagine an alternative London, where you can catch a direct tube from Biscuit Town to the Leper Hospital. Where you hop on the Circle at the West London Air Terminal and change at Hippodrome for a train to Bedlam.

This is the tube map of Lost London, showing buildings, shops and physical features that were once well known but have now faded into history.

Some losses are definitely for the best. Few would welcome back the public horror of Tyburn gallows, or the miserable Marshalsea Prison. Other losses are a cause of some regret: Euston Arch and the Astoria, for example. Imagine a city where Whitehall Palace still stands, and Old London Bridge yet straddles the Thames.

Of course, we're barely scratching the surface. We've not included the Overground or DLR, and have limited the scope to (roughly) zone 1. A whole heap of buildings such as Watkin's Folly and the White City Olympic stadium are left out, and we don't have room to include all the important stuff lost from central London.

Below, is a rough guide to each of the chosen lost landmarks, with links to further information.

Aldwych Spur (Holborn): One of London's many lost 'ghost' stations, Aldwych closed to passengers in 1994, along with the short branch of track from Holborn. The station opens for occasional tours.

Angel Inn (Angel): The local tube station, wider area and Monopoly property are named after a now-vanished coaching inn, which occupied the busy crossroads site from the late 16th century. The present building did serve as a pub for a time, before being converted to a cafe. Today it's a Co-op bank, but the neighbouring Wetherspoon pub has appropriated the name The Angel.

Astley's Circus (Waterloo): The world's first circus ring was pioneered close to what is now Waterloo Station. Astley's circus developed over a succession of increasingly impressive buildings during the late 18th century. It continued long after Astley's death and almost made it to the 20th century. Other lost buildings nearby include most of those constructed for the 1951 Festival of Britain, and the Lion Brewery, whose decorative felines can still be found on Westminster Bridge and Twickenham stadium.

Astoria (Tottenham Court Road): The much-lamented gig venue was swept away in 2009 to make way for Crossrail. Many other buildings and businesses in the area, including parts of the 'Tin Pan Alley' music district, have also been expunged.

Barkers (High Street Kensington): Kensington's most famous department store lasted from 1870 to 2006. It was founded by John Barker and James Whitehead, who would both become members of parliament. Its most recent building still stands.

Baynard's Castle (Blackfriars): A small fortress near Blackfriars, built not long after the Norman Conquest but demolished some time in the 13th century. The name was later revived in a nearby mansion, used by the House of York during the War of the Roses. It was largely destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, though fragments remained for many years after.

Bedlam (Liverpool Street): St Bethlehem's Hospital, or Bedlam as it was commonly called, was in medieval times located near what is now Liverpool Street station. It survived the Great Fire, but was nevertheless rebuilt in nearby Moorfields in the 1670s. That building, too, is long gone. The hospital moved once again in 1810 to what is now the Imperial War Museum.

Biscuit Town (Bermondsey): Peek Freans' biscuit factory once dominated the area south of what is now Bermondsey tube. Known affectionately as Biscuit Town, the complex  gave the world the chocolate digestive, garibaldi and bourbon biscuit. It closed in 1989. Many of the buildings remain, converted to office use. Another nearby 'lost district' is Jacob's Island, a notorious nest of criminals that features in Dickens's Oliver Twist as a hideout of Bill Sikes. The slum was cleared in the mid-19th century for warehousing.

Bucklersbury House (Mansion House): A sprawling 1950s office complex, recently demolished. The ancient course of the River Walbrook was found beneath, along with many important Roman artefacts. A new headquarters for Bloomberg, and a visitor centre showcasing the remains of the Roman Temple of Mithras have now been constructed on the site.

Catch-Me-Who-Can (Euston Square): London's first passenger railway was just a showpiece, and only went round in circles, but Trevithick's engine was ahead of its time. His track was on the site of UCL, and ran three decades before trains came into nearby Euston station.

Christ Church (Lancaster Gate): This landmark church was largely demolished in 1977, thanks to dry rot. The spire still stands, but is cocooned in something brown, skeletal and unspeakable.

Cripplegate (Barbican): A long-lost gateway into the Square Mile, which gave its name to a wider area around what is today the Museum of London. It was bombed to smithereens in the second world war, and is now replaced by part of the Barbican estate. The name lives on as a City of London ward, the church of St Giles Without Cripplegate and a minor road.

Diorama (Regent's Park): The Diorama building still stands (look at the roofline while passing along Park Square East and you'll see the name still painted onto the Nash Terrace), but its contents are lost. Like the nearby London Colosseum (see below), it housed impressively huge paintings, which would be cleverly illuminated for a paying audience who sat in a rotating auditorium. It opened in 1823 and closed in 1851.

Dust Hill (King's Cross): King's Cross is, of course, already named after a lost structure — an unpopular monument to George IV, which stood just 15 years, from 1830 to 1845. The area has many other lost features, however, including a smallpox hospital, a suspended railway and this delightful mound of dust.

Earl's Court (Earl's Court): The name of this tube station remains the same on our map, to reflect the departure of the Earl's Court exhibition centre. The complex is being demolished to make way for a new housing estate. Many existing homes will also be removed.

Euston Arch (Euston): An imposing entrance piece for Euston station, torn down in 1961 during modernisation works, along with the Great Hall. A campaign to rebuild the arch has received plenty of publicity, though we're not so sure.

Farriner's (Monument): The famous bakery of Thomas Farriner (or Faryner) on Pudding Lane, where the Great Fire of London is believed to have started. Not only was this building was consumed, but also 80% of the City of London — hence, it deserves a mention in our map of Lost London.

Flower Market (Covent Garden): Covent Garden had served as a market for flowers, fruit and vegetables since the 17th century. The logistics of supplying a central London market finally got the better of it, and the produce was carted off to Nine Elms in 1974. Watch Hitchcock's film Frenzy for a glimpse of the market's twilight.

Foundling Hospital (Russell Square): A home for abandoned children was opened by Thomas Coram in the fields north of Holborn in 1739. Most of the buildings were demolished in the early 20th century. The legacy lives on, however, with a children's playground and the nearby Foundling Museum.

Great Exhibition (Hyde Park Corner): The south side of Hyde Park was the original location of the Crystal Palace, built to house a grand exhibition of the wonders of empire. The remarkable glass building was taken down the following year and rebuilt in Sydenham, giving its name to the wider area. Another 'lost' item at Hyde Park Corner is the monumental sculpture of the Duke of Wellington, which once perched on top of the arch. It was deemed preposterously oversized, and was shifted to Aldershot Barracks in 1883, where it remains today.

Great Synagogue (Aldgate): After the return of the Jews to England in the 17th century, a great synagogue was constructed in Duke's Place near Aldgate. It went through a number of rebuilds, but remained in continuous use until it was destroyed by enemy action in 1941.

Grosvenor Basin (Victoria): Victoria station is built on top of a large canal basin, which was appropriated in 1858. Staff still refer to one area of the station as 'the beach', a reference thought to hark back to its watery origins.

Hankey's Mansions (St James's Park): Built between 1873 and 1877, Queen Anne's Mansions (below) was a controversial housing scheme, nicknamed Hankey's Mansions after developer Henry Hankey. At 12 storeys high, it was the tallest residential block in the country at that time. Queen Victoria was reportedly miffed as it blocked her view of Westminster from the palace, and its looming presence led to new planning laws limiting tall buildings. It was demolished in 1973 to make way for the even more imposing Home Office building, now the Ministry of Justice.

Queen Anne's Mansions.

Heygate (Elephant and Castle): One of London's most recent lost places is the Heygate Estate. The vast housing area at Elephant and Castle accommodated 3,000 people in imposing concrete blocks built in the 1970s. The whole lot has now been demolished, to be replaced by modern housing (much of it prohibitively expensive) in a development known as Elephant Park.

Hippodrome (Notting Hill Gate): The central swathe of Notting Hill was once occupied by a race course. The Hippodrome lasted from 1837 to 1842. We refer you to Fiona Rule's excellent book on Notting Hill, Streets of Sin, for the full story.

Hungerford Market (Embankment): A produce market, built in the 17th century on the site of Hungerford House, by the Thames at Charing Cross. The market survived until the 1860s, when it was swept away by Charing Cross station and the rail bridge which still bears its name.

Imperial Institute (South Kensington): Imperial College still harbours an impressive domed tower. It used to have three, with additional ornate buildings housing the Imperial Institute (below). All but the one tower were cleared away in the 1950s and 60s to build extensions to Imperial College.

The Imperial Institute.

Japanese Village (Knightsbridge): From 1885 to 1887, Londoners flocked to see the Japanese Village at Humphrey's Hall, Knightsbridge. This featured over 100 actual Japanese people doing actual Japanese things in a not-actual Japanese setting. Imagine. This wonder of the age might have become a permanent fixture, but such was the demand for all things Japanese that the organisers instead decided to tour to Berlin. Here's a press cutting from 1886:

Copyright, The British Library Board. All rights reserved.

23-24 Leinster Gardens (Bayswater): Two houses had to be demolished along Leinster Gardens during construction of the what is now the Circle line. The gaping wound in the terrace was patched over with convincing façades, which remain to this day. The peculiar fakery was highlighted in an episode of the BBC's Sherlock.

Kirby's Castle (Bethnal Green): A sizeable manor house then asylum in Bethnal Green. It was pulled down in the 1890s and the land is now partly occupied by the library.

Leper Hospital (Green Park): Before St James's Palace, the most notable building in the Piccadilly area was a home for lepers. It was dedicated to St James the Less, hence the name of the later palace and wider area.

Lime trees (Queensway): Kensington Gardens, like so many London parks, was badly affected by the Great Storm of 1987, losing around 200 trees — many of them mature limes.

London Arena (Canary Wharf): The 15,000 capacity London Arena lasted just 25 years before being demolished in 2006. Its site is now occupied by the hula-hoopy Baltimore Tower, still under construction at the time of writing.

London Colosseum (Great Portland Street): Not to be confused with the existing London Coliseum theatre, the Colosseum was an impressive domed building to the east of Regent's Park. It housed Thomas Hornor's panorama of London, said to be the largest painting in the world. It was demolished in 1874.

Lord's (Marylebone): The original cricket ground established by Thomas Lord and used by Middlesex Cricket Club occupied land around Dorset Square from 1787 to 1810, when a dispute over rent forced the club to move.

Mappin & Webb (Bank): This distinctive wedge-shaped building could once be found just west of the Bank junction. It was knocked down in the mid-90s to make way for No. 1 Poultry — a divisive building with many detractors and fans. The site had previously been earmarked for a Mies van der Rohe tower, equally contentious.

Marshalsea Prison (Borough): The setting for much of Dicken's Little Dorrit, this debtors' prison near Borough station also detained the novelist's father. It was largely demolished in the 1870s, after debt ceased to be a prison-worthy offence. One of its walls still stands (below, right), however, and can be found along Angel Place.

Metropolitan Theatre (Edgware Road): This large auditorium off Edgware Road had Tudor roots, but was knocked down in 1964 to make way for the Westway. Here's a good history.

Middlesex Hospital (Goodge Street): The hospital closed in 2005 and has since been almost entirely demolished to make way for the Fitzroy Place mixed-use development. The ornate chapel and one façade remain. Peter Sellers and Rudyard Kipling both died here, don't y'know.

Millbank Penitentiary (Pimlico): A large prison designed on the principles of Jeremy Bentham, it lasted from 1816 to 1890. Its distinctive outline can still be traced in the layout of local streets, and a perimeter ditch survives. The site is now occupied by Tate Britain and Chelsea College of Art & Design.

Old London Bridge (London Bridge): The Thames has been spanned here since Roman times, with numerous bridges. The most distinctive and longest standing, was the medieval structure created in the 13th century and finally demolished in the 1820s. Its replacement, designed by John Rennie, has also gone (mostly... approach sections are still in place) — famously sold to an American tycoon and re-erected in Arizona.

Old St Paul's (St Paul's): Christopher Wren's famous domed cathedral replaced a larger St Paul's built during the medieval period, which burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666. Before it lost its spire, Old St Paul's was much taller than its successor.

Pantheon (Oxford Circus): Oxford Street's Pantheon (below) was an entertainment venue dating back to 1772, with a central dome reminiscent of its Roman namesake. It later served as an opera house and then a bazaar, before its demolition in 1937. The site is now occupied by Marks and Spencer — look up next time you pass, and you'll see that the upper floors still carry the name Pantheon.

London's Pantheon.

People's Palace (Mile End): Writer Walter Besant was the driving force behind this Mile End entertainment complex, which opened in 1887. It attracted one and a half million people in its first year. Sadly, the venue burnt down in the 1930s. The replacement building is now part of Queen Mary University of London.

Planetarium (Baker Street): The landmark building on the side of Madame Tussauds still stands, but stopped showcasing the cosmos in 2010. It's now full of Marvel superheroes, for shame.

The Ring (Southwark): A distinctive drum-shaped building near modern Southwark station, used as a Methodist church from 1783 to 1881. It thereafter became a famous boxing ring, but was destroyed in two bombing raids in the second world war. The site is now taken by the Palestra Building, while a local pub namechecks the Ring. We found this signed photo of the Ring hanging on the wall of another pub, in Kent.

River Fleet (Farringdon): Not 'lost', as such, but buried beneath the surface and now functioning as a sewer. We've mapped it with Farringdon, but it also flows close to Blackfriars, King's Cross, Camden Town and Kentish Town stations. We recently took a paddle through the upper reaches.

River Tyburn (Bond Street): Like the Fleet, the Tyburn is often described as a 'lost river', though in reality is still gurgling beneath the pavements as a sewer. It once flowed above ground, close to modern day Bond Street station. Glance up and down Oxford Street at this point and you'll notice a marked dip of the former river valley. The route of the watercourse can easily be identified by looking at a street plan of Marylebone and Mayfair. Most streets follow a grid-like pattern, except for those that once tracked the banks of the Tyburn.

River Westbourne (Sloane Square): Yet another 'lost river'. This one can almost be seen at Sloane Square tube, where the waters are carried over the tracks in an iron pipe. The river meets the Thames at Chelsea Embankment, where the adventurous can wade a few metres into the outfall before meeting a set of iron flood doors.

Rolls Chapel (Chancery Lane): This building stood, in various guises, on Chancery Lane from the 13th century right up until the late 19th, when it was demolished to make way for the Maughan Library. It had originally served as a house for converted Jews, but later became a public record office, and a store for charters, patents and other 'rolls'.

Roman walls (Moorgate): The ancient Square Mile was once ringed by fortifications, first laid down by the Romans and subsequently strengthened in medieval times. Most of the wall (and other buildings from Londinium) is now lost, though fragments remain in the Moorgate area as well as near Tower Hill and in various basements.

Royal Menagerie (Tower Hill): From ancient times until the 19th century, the Tower of London was home to the royal collection of exotic animals, including elephants, lions and even a polar bear. A series of escapes and mishaps saw the animals decanted over to the new London Zoo in 1832. Today, a number of impressive mesh animal sculptures can be found dotted around the Tower's grounds.

Royal Mews (Charing Cross): Today, the site on Trafalgar Square is occupied by the National Gallery. From the 14th century to the 19th, it was home to the king or queen's horses and carriages. The last building on the site (below) looked not unlike Horse Guards, and was designed by the same architect, William Kent.

Royal mews on what is today Trafalgar Square.

Savoy Palace (Temple): A magnificent medieval townhouse on the Thames, owned by John of Gaunt. It was torn apart during the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 and later replaced by the equally grand Savoy Hospital. That too is long gone but — like Middlesex Hospital (see above) — its chapel has survived, hidden down a side street. Today, the Savoy Hotel and Theatre occupy the site. Nearby, the Adams brothers' Adelphi Terrace was also swept away, in the 1930s.

The Steelyard (Cannon Street): From the 15th-17th century, this riverside enclave was populated by the Hanseatic League, a community of German and Dutch merchants (the name comes from Staalhof, meaning trading base). Its activity dwindled after the Great Fire, and the site was eventually cleared by the construction of Cannon Street station. A commemorative plaque and history can be found beneath the station arches, along with a club called The Steelyard (and the faded remains of a Banksy rat).

St George's Fields (Lambeth North): A large open space covering parts of Southwark and Lambeth, roughly centred on St George's Circus. The fields were gradually filled in through the 18th and 19th century and the area is now almost entirely built up. Six or seven people were killed by soldiers here in 1768 during a protest at the imprisonment of John Wilkes.

Surrey Commercial Docks (Canada Water): Although Rotherhithe still contains a few remnant docks, notably around Surrey Quays, the network of pools was vastly greater in the 19th and first half of the 20th century. The change can be seen on these comparison maps. Most of the docks were filled in between the 1970s and 1990s for housing developments.

Swan & Edgar (Piccadilly Circus): A popular department store that inhabited the western side of Piccadilly Circus for over 100 years, finally closing in 1982. The building has since been occupied by Tower Records, Virgin Megastore, Zavvi and off-puttingly named clothes store The Sting.

Swiss Centre (Leicester Square): Not the prettiest of buildings, yet the Swiss Centre was a treasured cultural venue on the western edge of Leicester Square. It was demolished in 2007, though some of the paraphernalia survives. Fans of Ackroydian continuity will note that the Swiss theme sort of continues in the shape of a rather prominent chocolate shop now occupying the site.

Thatch Cottage (Paddington): According to the London Encyclopaedia, the last remaining thatched cottage in inner London survived in the Paddington area until the 1890s, when it was demolished to make way for St David's Welsh Church.

The Theatre (Old Street): A Shoreditch playhouse on Curtain Road owned by James Burbage. The theatre was dismantled in 1598 and slowly shifted over to Bankside, where it rose again as The Globe (itself twice destroyed by fire). The Curtain Theatre stood close to The Theatre's original site, and its excavation is imminent.

Totting Hall (Warren Street): Also called Tottenham Court, a former manor house where Tottenham Court Road now meets Euston Road. It was converted into a pub, the Adam and Eve sometime in the 17th century, and was painted by Hogarth. Any remnants were cleared away during construction of the Euston underpass in the 20th century.

Tyburn Gallows (Marble Arch): The notorious execution site — also known as Tyburn Tree — is still famous, 230 years on from the last hanging. A discrete plaque marks the supposed spot near Marble Arch.

Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens (Vauxhall): One of London's major entertainment zones between the mid-17th and mid-19th centuries. The gardens hosted many attractions, including music and performance, acrobatics and balloon ascents, and were infamous as a place of nocturnal misadventure and assignation — basically, shagging in the bushes. The gardens went through choppy times in the mid-19th century and closed for good in 1859. The name has been recently reapplied to an open space in the area.

West London Air Terminal (Gloucester Road): During the late 1950s, it was possible to check in to Heathrow Airport via a terminal building near Gloucester Road — miles from the airport. The always-excellent Library Time Machine blog has the story, with plenty of photos.

The White Chapel (Aldgate East): The small chapel of St Mary Matfalon once stood in what is now Altab Ali park. You can trace its remains on one of the lawns. The whitewashed medieval church was a notable landmark, from whence the wider area of Whitechapel gets its name. Much rebuilt over the centuries, it was destroyed in a bombing raid of the second world war.

Whitechapel Mount (Whitechapel): A noted hillock that once loomed over Whitechapel Road, close to the hospital. It is believed to have been part of the fortifications built around London during the English civil wars, though it may have been more ancient. It was levelled in 1808.

Whitehall Palace (Westminster): A favoured home of the royal family for generations until it burnt down in 1698. Only the Banqueting House — outside which Charles I lost his head — remains, and can be visited by the public. Charles II and Henry VIII also breathed their last here.

Worcester House (Stepney Green): A Stepney manor house constructed in 1597 on an earlier Tudor structure. Its remains were recently excavated by Crossrail archaeologists.

Last Updated 02 December 2020