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Aldwych tube station
Disused underground branch terminus on the Strand, central London
Report by urban75 editor, Feb 2006

The terminus of a short branch off the Piccadilly line, Aldwych tube station was situated in a L-shaped building at the junction of The Strand and Surrey Street, with the larger section in the latter.

Originally intended to be the southern terminus of the Great Northern and Strand Railway (running from Finsbury Park), the line ended up as a branch after the GN&SR merged with two other proposed tubes to form the grandly named Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (now known as the Piccadilly Line).

Aldwych tube station, Strand, central London, England
Aldwych Tube station, former main entrance on the Strand, London

Opening as The Strand station on November 30, 1907, the station offered a shuttle service to Holborn, with a single late night service running through to Finsbury Park for the benefit of theatre-goers.

This didn't prove a hit, with the service being promptly withdrawn in 1908.

Aldwych tube station, Strand, central London, England

The station didn't even manage to hang on to its original name for long, with a new Northern Line tube station nearby (now Charing Cross tube station) at the posher end of the Strand taking the name.

Renamed Aldwych station, lower than expected traffic levels led to the original two-train shuttle being reduced to one train, with the branch officially becoming single track in 1918.

With the second tunnel closed, platform B at Aldwych was left devoid of passengers and track. The platform has since been used as a testing area for new platform and lighting designs.

During the second world war, the branch was closed and the station used as a public air-raid shelter, with the tunnels being employed to store the Elgin Marbles and other precious artifacts from the British Museum.

Service resumed in 1946, with closure coming on September 30, 1994 after the cost of a lift replacement (estimated at between £3-5 million) was deemed uneconomic for the 600 or so daily passengers.

Aldwych tube station, Strand, central London, England


Since closure, the self contained nature of the short branch has made it ideal for film and television companies wanting to film Underground scenes, while one of the old platforms serves as a rifle range for the nearby King's College London shooting club.

Aldwych tube station, Strand, central London, England
Films made at Aldwych station include:
Battle of Britain (1969)
Death Line (1972)
Ghost Story (1974)
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1986)
The Krays (1990)
Patriot Games (1992)
Honest (2000)
Creep (2004)

Prodigy's superb FireStarter video was filmed in the disused tunnel and the station also features as a level in the video game, Tomb Raider 3.

Aldwych tube station, Strand, central London, England
Aldwych Tube station, Surrey Street entrance, London

The restored ticket hall remains in occasional use as a rentable space for art exhibitions, book launches and other private parties - I went to a fabulous launch there in 2000 and enjoyed a barrelful of free cocktails named after all the tube lines.

I know I should have been researching the station and making notes, but things rapidly got a little hazy!

Aldwych tube station, Strand, central London, England

Aldwych tube station, Strand, central London, England


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