Underground History

Cut and Cover Lines

There are four lines on the Underground that were mostly created using the Cut and Cover technique (excluding the Circle Line): District, East London, Hammersmith and City and the Metropolitan lines. Each of these lines have their secrets to hide... Read on!

District Line

St. Mary's (Whitechapel Road)

(Also serving Hammersmith & City line)

Maplet This station was located between Aldgate East and Whitechapel, immediately preceding a branch, which connects the East London Line to the District. Initially the station was used by trains on both lines but eventually became a District only station. The station was closed on 30th April 1938 after a decision was made to re-site the nearby Aldgate East station.

During the Second World War, the platform levels were bricked up for use as an air raid shelter and the surface building was severely damaged and subsequently demolished when hit by a bomb on 22nd October 1940. Therefore little evidence exists today of this station's existence, however the rooms created by bricking up the platform are still there and can still be accessed via an entrance at surface level.

St Mary's, shortly after closure

St. Mary's, shortly after closure

Tower of London

(Also serving Circle Line)

Situated on the same site as the present Tower Hill station, this station was only open for two years, closing on the 12th October 1884, when the nearby station at Mark Lane was opened.

The station was originally opened during the construction of the Metropolitan Line, it was decided when the circle line was created that a larger station was required and so Mark Lane was built as a replacement.

Mark Lane (Tower Hill)

(Also serving Circle Line)

Maplet This station was originally opened as Mark Lane to replace the short lived nearby Tower of London station. It was renamed Tower Hill in 1946. This station became disused not because of lack of use - in fact it could be said that it was over used since by 1967 it needed expanding but there was little room for this to happen.

Tower Hill old station entrance

The station was closed on 4th February 1967 when the nearby Tower Hill station was opened in its place. The sub-surface section can still be seen between Monument and Tower Hill (though only one platform on the eastbound track now remains due to track re-development) and if you look carefully, the surface station can be seen in the form of a subway under the road, next door to the All Bar One wine bar, where large grilles now cover the original stairways down to the platforms. In the picture, the actual station's entrance consisted of the last two archways before the one with the canopy - click on the picture for a closer look.

South Acton

Maplet South Acton station was located at the end of a short branch line, which diverged from the main line just south of Acton Town.

The line was originally designed for freight along with the passenger service and when the freight service ceased, the line continued to be operated as a shuttle until 28th February 1959 when it was closed due to low usage.

It is said that some of the staff that operated this line knew it as "The Tea Run", since it was so short that a kettle could be placed on the fire and would be coming to the boil just as the train was arriving back at Acton Town from its return journey!


Metropolitan Line

King's Cross St. Pancras

(Also serving Circle Line and Hammersmith & City Line)

East of the current station bearing the same name, the old platforms of the original station can still be clearly seen from a passing train. The station was moved in March 1941 to provide better connections with the nearby Northern and Piccadilly lines. Thameslink is now using one of the old platforms but the abandoned eastbound platform survives.

King's Cross disused platform King's Cross disused platform

King's Cross Circle and Hammersmith & City abandoned eastbound platform viewed from above and from a passing train

The original surface building for the station still exists today and now houses some shops.

Lord's

Maplet

Originally opened as St. John's Wood Road, the station was renamed in 1925 as Lord's due to its close proximity to Lord's cricket ground. The station survived until 20th November 1939 when the Bakerloo Line Extension (later to become part of the Jubilee line) was opened with the nearby St. John's Wood station proving to be too near.

The surface building survived into the late '60s before it was demolished.

Marlborough Road

This is another station that fell victim to the opening of St. John's Wood on the then Bakerloo Line. Even before this happened, it was little used apart from occasional busy periods during the cricket season. Marlborough Road closed on the 20th November 1939, the same day as Lord's.

Swiss Cottage

Not to be confused with Swiss Cottage on the Jubilee line, the station was originally the terminus for this branch of the Metropolitan Line. As with the previous two stations, Swiss Cottage was closed soon after the Bakerloo Extension opened with a new station bearing the same name being located nearby on the Bakerloo Line. This branch of the Bakerloo line later became part of the Jubilee line.

Uxbridge Road

Maplet Just north of the short spur that serves Kensington (Olympia), the line used to continue on following the mainline tracks, branching to rejoin the Metropolitan Line (now the Hammersmith & City line) just south of Latimer Road. On this short branch Uxbridge Road station was sited, a short walk away from the Central Line's White City station.

This branch along with Uxbridge Road was closed to passengers on September 20th 1940 but for some reason, the line along with the station continued to be printed on underground maps until 1947 when Kensington (Olympia) took on its current name (formerly being known as Addison Road).

Although many of the old underground maps show this station either as an interchange (when the District and Metropolitan lines were identified separately) or as two lines terminating back-to-back (when during the late '30s and '40s when the distinction between the District & Metropolitan Lines was more fuzzy), it's known that some services did run straight through from Latimer Road to Earl's Court. This section at one stage was known as the "Outer Circle".

Uxbridge Road can clearly be seen in the south eastern corner of the old 1912 map found on the Wood Lane page but is now gone.

Very little evidence remains of the station's location and of the course taken by the loop north of there. However, while travelling north, just before entering Uxbridge Road station, a tiny stub can be seen where the line once branched off towards Uxbridge Road.

The station was here... once! The stub, just south of Latimer Road

Left, Uxbridge Road would have been situated where the new road has been recently built just next to the mainline tracks.. Right, the small stub just south of Latimer Road.

West of Amersham

The Metropolitan line has had a strange history indeed. Years ago, you could have split the Metropolitan Line into two kinds of lines - Underground lines serving the centre of the City, and suburban lines running over 50 miles out into Buckinghamshire. Indeed, even traveling towards Amersham today feels very different to travelling in the centre of London as you look out of the window, seeing the fields roll by.

One branch ran as far west as Verney Junction, then a bustling interchange station. Another ran through the heart of the countryside to just south of the town of Brill. Today, these branches are long gone, but their marks on the landscape are still there to the trained eye.

Find out more about the long lost westernmost reaches of the Metropolitan Line and see what's left of the line Beyond Amersham.

Verney Junction

A morose Verney Junction station, abandoned to the elements

Grove Road (Hammersmith) and Hammersmith Viaduct

A derelict viaduct can be seen just outside Hammersmith station when traveling on the District and Piccadilly lines between Ravenscourt Park and Hammersmith. It appears to be a branch from the line, veering off in a north easterly direction before being cut off by more recent building development.

The viaduct is in fact is virtually the only remaining evidence of a long forgotten line operated by the London & South Western Railway (LSWR), starting service in 1869 and ending in 1916. The line ran north from Addison Road (now Kensington Olympia) via a station at Shepherd's Bush, now gone without a trace. The line then looped 180 degrees south, past another station that's now long vanished, Grove Road.

Just before arriving at Grove Road, a junction with the Hammersmith & City Line (which became part of the Metropolitan) was created so that some through services could be provided to Richmond. Metropolitan line services to Richmond stopped in 1906 and this junction was then abandoned.

Soon after this location, the line ran over the afore mentioned viaduct and joined what is now the District Line which then follows the line's route all the way to Richmond.

viaduct

Detail from a 1912 Bacon's New Map Of London outlining the path taken by the now lost part of the LWSR line.

The LSWR service was never electrified and relied on steam until closure. LSWR actually preceded the District service, which started using the length of track west of Hammersmith to Richmond in 1877. When the District line electrified, the LSWR continued to operate steam locomotives with the result that the line from Grove Road to Addison Road was never electrified.

After 1916, the land occupied by the un-electrified and now abandoned LSWR section was extensively re-developed with the result that virtually nothing now remains of this lost line. Since this stretch was never part of the District Line service, technically, the White City station on this line can't really be considered an abandoned Underground station! Grove Road however provided a stop on the short lived through Metropolitan Line service.

East London Line
(now part of the London Overground network).

Shoreditch on the then East London Line closed on 9th June 2006. To date, this is the first and only station closure I was actually able to attend - and what an atmosphere there was! Find out more about this station, why it neeeded to be closed, despite it being a fairly well used peak service station and to read an account of the closing day.

Shoreditch station
Hammersmith and City Line

Wood Lane

Similar to the station on the Central line that bore the same name, this station was also built especially to serve the Franco-British exhibition in 1908. When the exhibition closed it was soon realised that few people used it so it was soon only open when the exhibition centre (and later the White City stadium) was being used.

The station was situated just west of Wood Lane, almost opposite the old Central line station. You can find out more about its location and use along with information about its sister station on the Central Line by clicking here.

Shepherd's Bush

The original Shepherd's Bush station was located just south of the current station that bears the same name. As part of electrification and improvements to the line, the original station was replaced with two new ones - Shepherd's Bush to the north and Goldhawk Road to the south.

The station closed on March 31st 1914 and the two new stations opened the following day.

23/24 Leinster Gardens

The stretch of line shared by the Metropolitan and District Line between Paddington and Bayswater, much like the majority of the cut & cover lines, predates electrification and trains were originally powered by steam. The trains that served these lines were especially built with condensers to minimise the amount of steam emitted, but steam and smoke coudn't be completely eliminated. The lines therefore had to occasionally come to the surface to allow the locomotives to vent off excess steam and smoke. It is for this reason that when riding the cut and cover lines, you occasionally see flashes of daylight.

When developing this stretch of the line, it became necessary to demolish 23 and 24 Lemister Gardens, which were part of an up market street of terraced housing, forming a break in the long string of houses, so it was decided to build a false facade which matched the houses either side of the break, and use the gap behind the facade as a steam venting point.

23/24 Leinster Gardens

23/24 Leinster Gardens facade

The illusion is at first quite effective. The painted windows and doors have a similar appearance to the surrounding buildings, but on closer inspection, they contain no glass. Rather, they've merely been pained on with black and gray paint. Observing the the scene from above reveales the trickery involved!

23/24 Leinster Gardens From above

The scene taken from the 4th floor of an adjacent building

23/24 Leinster Gardens From behind

The scene taken from Craven Hill Gardens

Observing the scene from behind shows the gap between the buildings and the facade's other side is revealed to be simply a brick wall. There are many other such spaces in London. Most if not all of these are merely brick walls, behind which can clearly be heard the rumbling of passing trains. This is the most famous one, since so much effort has been put into concealing the true nature of the railway's existence just behind the facade.

Way Out Back to the Front Page

Deep Level Lines - many more disused stations on the deep level lines!

Last Modified: July 29th 2005

Mark Lane photograph was taken on August 27th 2000 - click on image for larger version.

St. Mary's, shortly after closure image is in the public domain and was obtained from Wikipedia.

Leinster Gardens photographs taken on January 22nd 2005. Many thanks to the staff of the King Henry VIII hotel for enabling me to take the 4th story photograph of the cutting.

All material on this page is © 2001, 2003 Hywel Williams unless otherwise noted.

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