On a Hidden London tour
Hidden London tours are all the rage; they're an opportunity to descend into London's forgotten stations, like Down Street and Aldwych, and to witness subterranean London frosted in dust and frozen in time.
Now there's a gloriously-illustrated book to accompany the tours: Hidden London: Discovering the Forgotten Underground. Here's a selection of images, capturing the magic and mysteries beneath our feet.
Keep an eye out for disused stations while riding the Underground.
The distinctive exterior of a disused station, designed by architect Leslie Green, is still recognisable at Hyde Park Corner, despite the intrusion of a hotel porch.
The access shaft for works on the Bank station upgrade project cut through the heart of the platforms at King William Street station in 2016, allowing workers to expand and improve Bank station with minimal disruption to service.
An original lift at Aldwych station.
An escalator shaft and works access tunnel under construction at
Bank, with modern construction techniques used on an epic scale to upgrade capacity and interchange behind the scenes at a working station.
A large, redundant fan impeller in a dark corner of disused York Road station.
Along with health- and-safety notices, a shrine to Saint Barbara, the patron saint of tunnellers, can usually to be found in underground construction sites. This one is at Bank.
At York Road station, the Edwardian ticket hall tiling design – with a border of green, glazed relief tiling – can still be seen, along with a red, cream and pink passageway.
The atmospheric passageways of Aldwych station, as experienced on a Hidden London tour.
Tiled wall at Piccadilly Circus station, stamped with the maker’s mark, W.B. Simpson & Sons, London and made by Maw and Company.
An abandoned tunnel at Piccadilly Circus
Baker Street station was one of the original Metropolitan Railway sub- surface stations opened in 1863. The Bakerloo line opened a separate station accessed by lifts in 1906. In October 1914, interchange between the Metropolitan and Bakerloo line stations was improved by the installation of two escalators. The lifts remained in use to carry passengers up to street level until 24 November 1940, when the original Bakerloo line station was closed to passengers. The lifts were used just one more time, on 8 May 1945, to help clear the huge crowds that attended the Victory in Europe celebrations.
Lifts were the only alternative to stairs, until escalators came along in 1911.
Deep beneath London’s historic banking district lie the decaying remains of
the world’s first tube terminus: King William Street, bypassed and abandoned in 1900 as the network expanded.
One of the King William Street tunnels under the Thames photographed in 2018. The original gradient markers on the tunnel wall record just how steep the approach to the station was at this point.
Passageways and lift shafts, converted at Moorgate station, to provide ventilation from large fans
The exterior of disused South Kentish Town station, closed in 1924 and now repurposed as a shop. The station is also the location for a short story by John Betjeman, in which a hapless commuter is left stranded underground after inadvertently alighting at the abandoned platform during an unscheduled stop (South Kentish Town, 1951).
Hidden London: Discovering the Forgotten Underground, is available now, RRP £25 All images © Yale University Press
Last Updated 17 April 2020