Take a photo tour of the abandoned Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Located on London’s Strand, a visit to the depths of the disused Aldwych tube station is something of a holy grail for transport fans.

Although London Transport are known to occasionally serve up a tiny offering of tickets for guided tours, by the time you’ve heard about it, they’re usually long since sold out.

I finally got lucky recently and on Thursday joined a group of 30-odd people on a fascinating visit to the station. I took my camera with me and grabbed this collection of around 70 photos from the station. I hope you enjoy them.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Dating back to Edwardian times and closing in 1994, the station was known as the Strand until 1915 and formed part of the Piccadilly line network. Above you can see the original sign for the booking hall.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

The group walk through the entrance on the Strand into the booking hall area, with a line of old phone box booths to the right.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Seeing as we were about to be walking around a disused station with wobbly floors and hundreds of steps to walk up and down, there was a shedload of ‘elf and safety items that we needed to be told about.

Thankfully, they were delivered with a decent amount of humour by the fella in the dark blue shirt.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A late addition to the station was this heritage styled ticket office that installed in the late 1980s.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Heading down the 160 steps to the platforms. The tile work was in pretty good condition throughout.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

One of the volunteer guides.

The Strand branch opened until 30 November 1907, and was served by shuttle trains running from Holborn into the two platforms at the station.

With low traffic levels from the start, the second platform was taken out of use as early as 1914.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

In anticipation of the never-fulfilled promise of the line being extended to Waterloo, the station was generously provisioned with three circular lift shafts able to accommodate six trapezium-shaped lifts.

In the end, cutbacks meant that only one of the shafts was fitted out with a pair of  lifts.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A lift that was never put into commission.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

As an economy measure, only one set of stairs and passages to the platforms were built (see illustration below), and in this view, you can see the unfinished passenger space opposite.

Take a photo tour of the abandoned Strand Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Looking up the single lift shaft that was used during the life of the station.

Above you can see the outlines of the two lifts which are now welded in place as a safety measure.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

The depth of the station meant that it was used extensively as a public shelter during World War 2, with parts of the site used for storing precious national works of art.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Arriving at the track level, there was an old 1970s tube train parked in the western platform, looking lie it was ready to depart to Holborn.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Short, snappy and rather entertaining talks were delivered by the volunteer guide.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Much like the nearby Kingsway tram tunnel, the station is still used extensively for filming, so a lot of the things we saw on the platform (like this tube sign) aren’t actually authentic.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Some recent filming had left the platform with a rather splendid collection of replica wartime posters.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Note up the bricked up doorway to the right – this was one of the passenger exits that was never put into use.

If things had worked out differently the tunnel would have continued under the Thames to Waterloo.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

The line is still connected to the tube network at Holborn, although it requires manual operation.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Looking north towards Holborn.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A look inside the driver’s cab.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Old station indicator.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

It seems incredible now, but smoking was allowed in certain carriages of tube trains until 9 July 1984. The smell of a smoking carriage was not a pleasant one first thing in the morning.

Smoking was banned for a six-month trial period in all parts of the Underground in mid-1987, and after the tragic King’s Cross fire in November 1987, and the ban was made permanent.  []

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

We moved across to the long abandoned eastern platform where part of the original station name can be seen in the tiling (as in the ‘A N’ from ‘STRAND’).

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

The second platform has been used to set up full scale mock ups of future stations, and was first used for Victoria line proposals in the 1960s.

This view is looking north.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

There are still some original early 1970s posters lining the walls. Back then, ‘photocopying’ was a job in itself!

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Pro Common Market poster.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Experimental tiling from the refurbishment of Piccadilly Circus in the 1980s.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

1970s poster for Downstairs at DH Evans, ‘London’s new young fashion rendezvous.’

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

BEA poster.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

The second platform contains a stretch of Grade 1 listed track.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Looking south.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Looking along the track towards Holborn.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

The well preserved Grade I listed stretch of Edwardian track, with wooden sleepers and an early design of insulators.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Bricked up tube tunnel.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Disused passenger access.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Looking back from the other end of the passage.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

There’ still a pair of old buffer stops at the end of the tunnel.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Original piece of Edwardian tiling.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Looking towards the lifts.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Looking across one of the unused lift shafts.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Unfinished passenger tunnels.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

There’s some lovely original tile work on the station.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Walking back up the 160 steps to the surface.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Original booking office window.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Line of old telephone booths by the booking office.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Rather splendid original Art Deco ironwork above the lifts.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

Traffic was so low that in October 1922, the ticket office was replaced by a man selling tickets in the lifts.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

After operating only during peak hours for more than 30 years, the end was finally announced on 4th January 1993.

The  £3m cost of replacing the 1907 lifts proved to be the final straw on top of the £150k the line was losing every year.

With only 450 passengers using the station each day and all plans to extend the line long since vanished, the branch closed on 30th September, 1994.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

The Edwardian lifts, which no longer function.

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

A tour of the abandoned Strand /Aldwych tube station in central London

More:
The abandoned Aldwych tube station in London – history and videos
Aldwych station feature (2006)
Chat about the old station on the urban75 forums:  Disused Aldwych tube station, London

Aldwych station feature
Aldwych station [Wikipedia]