07 July 2010

Inside Aldwych Tube

Stitched PanoramaTFL is currently allowing visitors into the ticket hall of the disused Aldwych Tube station just off the Strand in Surrey Street, and has taken the opportunity to set out a small exhibition of its plans for the future development of the London Underground.  The main drawcard is of course the opportunity to see inside a station that’s usually closed to the public.  While it doesn’t contain the intriguing remnants of old London like the recently discovered tunnel at Notting Hill Gate station liberally papered in vintage posters from the 1950s, it’s still a good opportunity for Tube buffs to take a peek behind the scenes.

Aldwych operated from 1907 until 1994, with a gap when it was closed during World War II, and worked as a feeder service, shuttling passengers from the eastern end of the Strand up to the Piccadilly and Central lines at Holborn station.  More recently it’s served as a useful film set, with probably its most famous use being in the Prodigy’s Firestarter video.  

Outside, the facade is grand but inviting, its warm red tones and gleaming tiles complementing the college buildings further down the street.  Inside, the ticket windows are still guarded by a row of wooden telephone cubicles, and the walls are still beautified by shining green and cream coloured tiles.  Large lift carriages (‘maximum load 45 people’) still wait to ferry non-existent passengers down to the platforms, which are unfortunately but understandably not part of the open day.  (You can get a good look around with this photo-tour).  Only a short visit is required to take in the interior, but it’s definitely worth ten minutes of your day if you happen to be passing, particularly if you have an interest in the history of the Underground.  But you’ll need to hurry – the exhibition closes on Friday 9 July.

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