Kingsway Tram Tunnel
A trip to a long lost tram station under central London
(Photos ©urban75, 11th October 2009)
Opened in 1906, Kingsway Tram Subway once ran underneath the length of Kingsway, taking passengers from Holborn to Aldwych and emerging below Waterloo Bridge.
There were two stations in the tunnel at Holborn and Aldwych, both with island platforms, and in February 1939, the tunnel was enlarged to handle double deck trams - this was achieved by lowering the floor (see pre-rebuilding phot below).
The line operated for less then 50 years, closing in 1952, not long before all trams were banished from the London streets.
Since closure, the sizeable tunnel has been used for storage purposes, remaining tightly closed to the public until artist Conrad Shawcross persuaded Camden Council to open up the space for an installation called, Chord.
The work utilises two large identical rope making machines which travel away from each other as the multi-coloured rope is created.
It's quite an interesting machine, but let's be honest: the tunnel is the star here and I imagine that's what most people have come down to take a look at.
The entrance to the Kingsway tram tunnel. I've wanted to walk down here for years!
It's surprisingly steep, so we imagine it might have been a bit of an effort for a fully laden tram to work its way up to surface level.
Archive shot from the late 40s/early 50s showing two 33 trams passing each other by the entrance to the tunnel.
The 33 route travelled a fair way across London, starting at West Norwood in the south and terminating at Manor House Station, past Finsbury Park.
Note the hefty dent on the front of the tram on the left.
Entering the tunnel.
Our friendly guide in action!
Archive shot from a similar angle showing a number 33 tram departing the station's island platform.
Looking back towards the tunnel entrance. The station was in the middle, with the tram tracks passing either side.
Archive photo from a similar angle as the modern photo above, showing a number 31 tram at the station.
Staircase at the other end of the station.
Tiled wall of the station.
Tram station, showing the large spaces on the wall for advertising hoardings. In front can be seen props from the filming of The Escapist.
Old tube roundel, used for a film set.
Old gas lamps and street bollards were piled up in the tunnel.
The fire escape was in fact blocked off!
Looking to the far end of the tunnel. It was very dark indeed, so I rested the camera on the wooden tracks and set a long exposure.
There's piles of rubble and rubbish at the far end. If it were possible to continue along the line, you might find the remains the second Kingsway station, Aldwych which was demolished in the 1960s during construction of the Strand Underpass.
Old tram lines into the station.
Old tube map - sadly it's not an authentic survivor, but was left over from recent filming of The Escapist..
Heading back out of the tunnel.
«back to London homepage