Last Updated on 15th July 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
Earlier, I was sat on the London underground during my morning commute (fancy way of saying way to work/ school) being coughed on by fellow commuters and wondering if maybe wearing heels was a bad idea when my mind started wandering. It occurred to me that there must be a lot of abandoned London tube stations…
I mean, if Paris has them, then surely London must too! I don’t know what it is about abandoned places, but the allure is strong. To be honest, in recent months, #urbex has quickly become my favourite hashtag on Instagram!
How many abandoned London Tube Stations are there? (and why are they abandoned?)
Well, as it turns out, there are actually a whopping 40 (at least) stations in London that have either been abandoned or closed since the turn of the 20th Century. From wars to not enough passengers, each has its own reasons for closure. As you can imagine, getting into these is pretty difficult now. Oh, how I wish I could take a peek at a couple of them and maybe snap a couple of haunted photos!
Although some of these stations have become abandoned and dusty with time, others have found other uses. Some of these include being used as air raid shelters during WWII and more recently, film locations for Hollywood Blockbusters. Unfortunately, for the majority of these abandoned tube stations in London, you can only see the exteriors.
King William Street
Closed as early as 1900 after being in operation for as little as 10 years, the King William Street Tube was a station on the route of the World’s first electric train. King William Street station was a victim of its own success and soon needed major upgrades. However, as the tube network was updated, the gradient of the tube station was deemed too dangerous and the station was abandoned.
The tube station of City Road was closed in 1922 after just 21 years of service. During repair works to the Northern line, City Road Station was deemed too costly to repair. If the tube station were in operation today, city road would be located on the Northern line between Angel and Old Street. During WWII, it was used as an air raid shelter.
Located on two now defunct lines, Down Street station was located in the exclusive area of London, Mayfair. It was mainly closed due to its proximity to other stations and its lack of clientele.
During WWII it was used as Winston Churchill’s personal wartime bunker; exclusively for use by the Prime minister himself and his cabinet. Down Street station was used by the man himself right up until the Caninet War Rooms were ready.
Today, you can see the outside of the station and part of it has been converted into shops. Transport for London has suggested that, in the near future, the rest of the station will be converted into restaurant or retail space.
British Museum Tube Station
Now, if there is one of the abandoned London tube stations that I would love to have a peek at, it has got to be the British Museum tube station. The tube station is listed as having been ‘deep level’, meaning that it cut right below the streets… Named after the nearby iconic museum, the station was opened in 1900. However, the station was promptly closed with the opening of Holborn tube station (Picadilly line), which was less than 100 yards away!
Named after the nearby iconic museum, the station was opened in 1900. However, the station was promptly closed with the opening of Holborn tube station (Picadilly line), which was less than 100 yards away!
The station was then used as a military office and command post right up until the 1960s. Sadly, little photo documentation remains The surface building was later demolished and all that remains is whatever lies below…
Image below: a section of a vintage map showing the location of the British Museum tube station.
Brompton Road was yet another tube station that was closed in the 1930s. In an era when ‘talkies'(Hollywood films with sound) were really taking off, London was awash with change. Places were constantly opening and closing, the city was a hive of activity.
Just like Down Street Tube station, Brompton Road ended up being closed due to its lack of clientele and proximity to other tube stations. Brompton Road was pretty close to Knightsbridge Station.
Brompton Tube Station was located on the Piccadilly line of the tube (the same one as Holborn, Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden). During WWII, the tube station was used as an air raid shelter for the 26th Anti-Aircraft brigade.
In 2014, it was sold off to be converted into flats. All I can say is; what a place to move to!
Of all the abandoned London tube stations on this list, swiss Cottage is a little bit of an anomaly. Okay, now Swiss Cottage isn’t exactly the same as the others on the list as it’s still open (and if you don’t believe me, you can always ask one of the thousands who use it on a daily basis!)
The metropolitan branch of the station was closed in 1940, just a year after opening.
Closed in 1994
To close off the list of Abandoned London tube stations, let’s finish with one of the latest closures, Aldwych Tube Station! Closed in 1994 (also the year I was born!), Aldwych shuttered its door for the final time. Throughout its use, Aldwych tube station’s function was strange in that it only ever connected to Holborn. No one is really sure why it was ever opened in 1907 as it seemed to be more effort than it was worth.
Furthermore, when Aldwych was opened, it was originally called ‘Strand’, cauisng mass confusion. It was soon renamed Aldywch and functioned just to transport passenegers to and from Holborn tube station. Like many deep level tube stations, during WWII, it was used as an air raid shelter.
The station was finally closed in 1994 due to health and safety regulations. The lifts, although in good working order, were deemed unsafe due to exposed machinery and high voltage. The cost of replacing the lifts was deemed too costly considering that the line wasn’t particularly busy.
Today, the station is frequently rented out for art exhibitions and to film crews. In more recent times, Aldwych has been opened up to film crews. The abandoned tube station featured in zombie apocalyptic movie 28 Weeks Later.
However, with minimal maintenance, who knows what limited access the public already has to this station will last?
Photo below: Aldwych Tube Station used as an air raid shelter during the WWII blitz.
Cover Image: Tube Map 1926