Underground History

Deep Level Lines

There are seven Deep Level lines on the Underground in total: Bakerloo, Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria and Waterloo & City lines. Not all of these railways have abandoned stations on their tracks - the ones that do are covered on this page.

These sections are typically much deeper than the sub-surface sections, with the deepest point on the whole tube network being just north of Hampstead under Hampstead heath at 220 feet deep at the location of the partly built Bull and Bush station on the Northern Line.

Piccadilly Line

Aldwych

Although one of the more recent closures on the underground network, Aldwych has had a rich history during the 87 years between its opening and final closure. Find out more about this now almost forgotten branch line and its station. I was given the opportunity to visit this station - read here for a first hand account of the station as it stands today!

Hidden Holborn (The "Hostel")

Today, there are four platforms in use at Holborn station - two for the Piccadilly Line and two for the Central. Up until recently, it was easy to observe that there's also a fifth platform adjacent to the northbound Piccadilly platform 4 - the old branch line to Aldwych, which was closed in 1994. Not many people realise that originally there was also a sixth platform at Holborn - and its still there today! Although not strictly a disused station, there's so much here of historical interest at this location that it deserves more than just a passing mention.

Down Street

As well as being used as an underground station, Down Street Station had a pivotal secret use during the Second World War, seven years after its closure. Look here to find out some of the more interesting uses for closed underground stations! An account of a visit to the station can also be read.

Maplet

Brompton Road

Brompton Road surface entrance Brompton Road shares a very similar history to Down Street. Opened in 1906 when the Finsbury Park to Hammersmith stretch of the Piccadilly Line was opened, the station suffered from low use due to the close proximity to its neighbouring stations. The nail in its coffin came when Knightsbridge received a new escalator entrance much nearer to Harrods, thus bringing its entrance even closer to Brompton Road. The station was eventually deemed uneconomical for operation and indeed many trains were already passing straight through non-stop, so Brompton Road was closed on 29th July 1934, only to be refurbished as an anti-aircraft control centre during World War 2. Read here for more on the station's background and to see photographs of the station as it was during a visit in December 2001.

York Road

York Road surface entrance Have you wondered why there's such a long run between King's Cross St. Pancras and Caledonian Road stations? Opened in 1906, York Road was originally sited between these two stations but was never well frequented and early on in its life some fast trains were passing straight through. The station remained open until 17th September 1932 when it was finally closed to the public.

Maplet The surface building's façade is still there today with its distinctive maroon façade, typical of the Leslie Green designed stations, situated on the corner of Bingfiled Street and York Way (originally York Road), with some of the original lettering still visible. The building behind the façade has been re-built and sub-surface, everything is still there though the paint or black grime now mostly covers the tiled walls. If you look very carefully as you pass through the station west bound, you can catch a glimpse of purple and cream tiling just before you leave the station towards Kings Cross St. Pancras.

It has been rumoured that when the international train terminal is eventually built at Kings Cross, that York Road may well be re-opened to provide access to the terminal which would be situated north of the existing King's Cross. In the unlikely event of this happening, it will almost certainly be unrecognisable as it will be extensively redesigned and have escalator access to replace its existing lift shafts.

Heathrow Terminal 5

This isn't an abandoned station as such, but during the construction of the Heathrow loop to terminal 4 in 1983-85, some special preparatory work was done to enable the building of a station for a possible fifth terminal where it was then supposed that it would be built. Now that the constuction of Terminal 5 is under way, the site finally decided for the terminal is too far away to use this special part of the tunnel. However, the specially modified tunnel is still there today. Find out more.

Surface Level stations closed on the Piccadilly Line:

Station Closed
Northfields & Little Ealing 19th May 1932
Osterley 25th March 1934 (moved 0.3Km west)
Hounslow Town 2nd May 1909
Hounslow West 11th July 1975 (moved due to construction of Heathrow Extension)
Park Royal 6th July 1931 (moved eastwards)
Hillingdon 29th June 1992 (moved 70m eastwards to facilitate expansion of A40 road)

Central Line

Wood Lane

Wood Lane was at one time the western terminus of the Central Line. Click Here to find out more and see some pictures of the surviving surface building.

British Museum

Maplet

Due to fierce competition between the rival underground railway companies before they were incorporated into London Transport, several stations were built very close to each other on different lines with no connections between platforms other than a short surface walk between stations.

British Museum When the running of the lines was amalgamated, it was decided that Holborn and British Museum were so close to each other that a single station at Holborn could accommodate passengers on both lines and thus only one station would need refurbishing.

Original plans included a subterranean walkway to the original platforms but in the end it was decided to build new platforms 70 metres down the line at the current Holborn location.

On 24th September 1933 British Museum station was closed and the new platforms at Holborn were operational from the following day. Since then, the station has been in use several times by the Ministry of Defence, being used as an administrative office for the Brigade of Guards and also with a potential use in time of crisis as the London District Military Command. Since the '60s, however the surface level access has been cut by building work at the surface (when the original surface station was lost) and the station is now disused.

Soon after closure, a national newspaper offered a cash reward to anyone willing to spend the night in the abandoned station, since the platforms were believed to be haunted by the ghost of a mummy from the nearby British Museum. It's believed that nobody took up the offer...

Epping to Ongar branch line

Since closure on 30th September 1994, the line was bought by the Eping Ongar Railway Company with a condition of sale being that a commuter service be re-introduced. Work was been carried out to enable standard rail stock to run on the line including lowering the track bed under the M11 motorway however due to many ongoing problems including (currently) not having a platform sufficiently close to the existing Epping station, no commuter service has run on the line since 1994. Since closure the line has also been de-electrified, with the two electric rails removed.

The branch is today managed by the Epping Ongar Volunteer Railway Society and, as of 10th October 2004 a limited Sunday only service between Ongar and North Weald. The main obstacle at the moment to running a service all the way to Epping is building a platform at the Epping end! The Sunday service runs beyond North Weald to Coopersale, where the society hope to build a new stop. Currently, a vintage bus service runs from North Weald to Epping Underground station.

The first abandoned Underground line (along with stations) to re-open to the public?

For a description of what you can see today, along with pictures, see here for your own virtual visit!

Ongar Station Ongar Station

Ongar Station

Today, the station building is once again in use as a station, apart from a private residence which occupies old station house itself.

The stations that used to be on that branch are:

Station Closed
Blake Hall 31st October 1981
North Weald 30th September 1994
Ongar 30th September 1994

To find out more about the Epping to Ongar branch and about the company who currently own and hope to run the line again, see Epping Ongar Railway's web pages. You can also find out up to date information about the line here.

Bakerloo Line

Trafalgar Square

This station is a red herring - technically it never closed, yet if you look at an old Underground map (prior to the mid 1970s) you will clearly see an extra station named Trafalgar Square on the Bakerloo Line that doesn't appear on modern maps. A clue to what happened to this station can be seen if you look at some of the other stations that surround it on those old maps.

Maplet

What in fact happened was that when the Jubilee line was being built during the 1970s, its original termination point was the current Charing Cross station (see the Jubilee section below) and it was decided to extensively re-design the station. The Northern Line platforms were closed in June 1973 and remained closed for almost 6 years before re-opening under the new identity. At the same time, a passenger walkway and escalator link were opened between Trafalgar Square and Charing Cross and in May 1st 1979 the two stations effectively became known as Charing Cross.

That's not the end of the story though - if you look at the old map you'll see a station called Strand (not to be confused with nearby Aldwych which was originally also named Strand...). Careful examination of the map will reveal that Embankment was originally known as Charing Cross... and Charing Cross was originally known as Strand! Confused? I guess passengers were too!

Charing Cross sign Charing Cross sign

These two enamel signs, on display in the LT Museum's Acton Depot, show how the contemporary signs were modified (sometimes with only partial success!) to reflect the station name change.

The escalator link has now closed but the walkway remains.

BBC Broadcasting House?

One of the most enduring and persistent rumours with regard to abandoned stations and secret tunnels is the suggestion that there is/was a special platform on the Bakerloo Line to serve BBC Broadcasting House, located in the heart of London. These rumours go back many decades. Read here to find out more.

North of Harrow & Wealdstone

Until 1982, the Bakerloo Line used to service stations all the way to Watford Junction. On 24th October 1982, all services north of Queen's Park were withdrawn and replaced with mainline services running the same route. In 1984, a Bakerloo Line service was reinstated to Harrow & Wealdstone, but the stations north of here have continued to only be serviced by mainline trains.

See here for more information about this stretch of line and also about a curious branch that has never been served by Underground trains, is now derelict, but could soon be reopened as part of an extension for the Metropolitan Line, once again bringing Underground services to Watford Junction and Watford High Street - all be it by a different route!

Watford West station

Watford West station - closed and derelict now, but possibly a new station on the Metropolitan Line in the future?

Jubilee Line

Charing Cross Platform & Branch Line

Maplet Until the Jubilee line was extended south of the Thames via the Millennium Dome to link with Stratford on the Central line, the Jubilee line originally terminated at Charing Cross. As the new extension was built, a section of tunnelling between Charing Cross and Green Park effectively became a branch line of the new extension. Originally it was intended to run a few special services to Charing Cross, however it was eventually decided to abandon the Jubilee platform there and it was closed on 19th November 1999. Occasionally trains are still routed up the branch but no passengers are allowed to alight since the escalators are now out of service. Since closing, the platform has been stripped of much of its decoration and is now cordoned off to the public. It is still possible to see the branch if you look to your right as you travel between Green Park and Waterloo.

Charing Cross Jubilee Line platform

The Jubilee Line Platform at Charing Cross as seen in June 2001. Posters on the platform side have been removed but track side posters are as they were when the platform ceased to be used.

Charing Cross Jubilee Line overrun When the Jubilee line was first constructed (originally to be called the Fleet Line), the intention was to eventually extend the Jubilee line further East via Charing Cross towards the City, linking in with Aldwych. This is why there were two platforms at Charing Cross with tunnels clearly continuing on from both. This now abandoned tunnelling actually runs beyond Charing Cross under the Strand, coming about 100 metres short of Aldwych's location at the other end of the Strand.

When the Jubilee platforms were first opened in 1979, five escalators down to the new platforms were provided as part of the station's extensive refurbishment (three on the Northern Line side and two on the Bakerloo). With the closure of the platforms these escalators were also closed and access to them walled off. They can still be seen at the Northern Line end of the station complex through a little window in the partitioning wall that has been erected since closure! This wall is now known to staff working at the station as Great Wall of Charing Cross!

Film and television companies are increasingly choosing this platform over Aldwych because, like Aldwych, trains can easily brought into the platform. Unlike Aldwych however, the platforms still look modern and newer rolling stock is easily available. A good example of a film that has extensively used the station is the British low budget slasher movie Creep. The locations used in this film are discussed in more detail here.


Northern Line

King William Street

Maplet The first deep level tunnel to be built on the London Underground was the stretch running from Stockwell to King William Street, situated not far from today's Bank station and only metres away from the surface entrance to Monument station. Opened in 1890, it was originally designed to be cable operated (very similar to the cable cars that still run on the surface of the streets of San Francisco), but was changed to electric before opening.

Due to the original intention to make the line cable operated, the operation was physically built with only a single platform at the terminators at King William Street and Stockwell. Despite work to extend and expand the station to two platforms it was found to be inadequate and was never very popular with passengers. Additional technical problems plagued the line at its city end; the power station for the line was situated at Stockwell and the combination of steep inclines, sharp corners and the loss of power between Stockwell and the opposite end of the line at King William Street meant that trains frequently didn't have enough power to come up the final incline into the station and would have to pull back and make another attempt! On more than one occasion a second engine had to be brought in to help the beleaguered train into the station.

The decision was made to build a new tunnel just north of Borough which formed the now Bank branch of the Northern Line. As soon as this was opened, King William Street was closed on 24th February 1900 only to be opened briefly as an air raid shelter during the Second World War.

Plaque on Regis House The surface station was incorporated into street level buildings, but the original façade (and building!) has long since gone due to extensive re-development over the years. Today, the only access to King William Street station is made via the basement of the recently built Regis House which houses several IT companies who use some of the tunnelling to convey fibre optic cables. Allegedly, there are still posters up on the wall at the station that date back to its days as an air raid shelter. Access is now very difficult not only due to the entrance's location (a manhole in the basement of Regis House) but also it has been said that the station area is now partially flooded and the air is stale, requiring breathing equipment.

The old tunnels are still there however, now being used as utility and fibre optic conduits. At one point they run directly above the existing Bank Northern Line platforms - if you look up you can see directly into these tunnels through several ventilation grilles in the roof. The tunnels were bricked up on either end of the Thames crossing during the War and so its now impossible to cross the river using them - they're probably now flooded too!

Bull & Bush

Bull & Bush has the unique distinction on this site of being a station that never opened! Never the less, it has had some strange clandestine uses over the years. Click Here for some more details.

South Kentish Town

South Kentish Town surface building Located between Kentish Town and Camden Town, its surface entrance is situated on the corner between Castle Road and Kentish Town Road. The station was originally to be named Castle Road, with this name being painted on the tiling at platform level, but the name was changed shortly prior to opening and the name on the tiling covered up.

Maplet Opened with the rest of the section of the line in June 1907, the station was not well used due to its proximity to Kentish Town, Camden Town and also due to the regular trams that ran on the road on which it was sited. It was closed during a power station strike on 5th June 1924 and never reopened.

During the Second World War, the lift shaft was blocked, the platform was removed, a wall was erected between the platform area and the track and a floor erected to make the station a two-story air raid shelter. All this was removed later since they restricted the speed trains could pass through the station and today the station area can clearly be seen through the windows of a passing train - if you're lucky you can still catch a glimpse of the original tiling, though now covered by grime!

A passenger accidentally alighted from a train at South Kentish Town soon after closure and although he soon realised his mistake and got back on the train, this inspired a published short story which expanded the story somewhat and told of a Mr. Brackett, who was trapped in the dark, deserted station for four days having stepped off a train stopped by a red signal.

When morning came he started on his hands and knees to crawl,
And made a lot of progress 'till his forehead hit a wall.
Then he sat and chewed a poster which was advertising "port",
But the paste upon it proved a most unsatisfying sort.
All day upon the platform Mr. Brackett quietly fumed,
His mind was full of pictures of the day he'd be exhumed;

(T.W., T.O.T. Staff Magazine)

His ultimate rescue was achieved by screwing up some posters and setting light to them thus drawing the attention of a passing driver (something I hasten to add that London Underground would definitely not recommend one doing!). This story was expanded further by Sir John Betjeman in 1951 and was broadcast on BBC radio.

City Road

Maplet Yet another station not well frequented during its short life. Opened in November 1901 and was closed on 8th August 1922 so that the tunnels along the Euston to Moorgate stretch could be widened to accept more modern train stock. Unlike the other stations it was never reopened and its only use since then being that of an air raid shelter during the war.

Easily visible underground, its surface building is not so noticeable due to partial demolition in the '70s. The only part of the original building left is the brickwork above the old lift shaft.

City Road surface building

This is the only fragment remaining of the surface building.

Stockwell

Originally the southernmost terminus of the Northern Line, Stockwell originally consisted of a single platform. About the same time King William Street was extended to two-track operation, Stockwell was also converted using a single central platform.

Stockwell original platform location As use increased and plans were made to extend the Northern Line further south, the single platform arrangement was found to be inadequate and the station was closed on 28th November 1923, to open a full year later in December 1924 at its current location slightly further south.

An observant passenger can clearly see the station's original location just north of the existing Stockwell platforms. Some of the existing white tiling can still be observed, though the platform has long since been removed and a cross over intersection has since been built. The location of the old platforms can also be seen by looking northwards into the running tunnel from the southbound Northern Line platform. On a southbound train, immediately prior to entering the old station area, a steep abandoned tunnel veers sharply to the left - this is the tunnel to the line's original depot.

The photograph shows this view from Stockwell where a north bound train can be seen towards the left of the old station tunnel and the south bound running tunnel can be seen (with its lights on) towards the right.

The "Northern Heights"

In the late 30s and into the 1940s, plans were made to extend the Northern Line along several routes in the north of London. Some existing steam operated lines were to be taken over and new track was going to be laid north of Edgeware, taking the Northern Line as far north as Bushey Heath. The project was part of an ambitious drive to extend the Underground known as The New Works Programme, which also included extensions to the Bakerloo and Central Line. Only the Central Line extensions came into fruition with the other projects being simply abandoned in a partially completed state.

Much evidence of this partial conversion to electric operation still exists today along the track beds of the now long abandoned railway lines - for more details including many photographs, see here.

Highgate High Level platform

Architect Charles Holden's Highgate high level platforms, one of the abandoned stations along the uncompleted Northern Heights.

Last modified: February 23rd 2005

Way Out Back to Underground History main page

Cut And Cover Lines - even more disused stations!

Photographs of Brompton Road, York Road, South Kentish Town and City Road surface locations taken on 5th May 2000. Mark Lane taken on August 27th 2000.

Stockwell was taken on 11th October 2000. Highgate High Level was taken 7th April 2001. Charing Cross Jubilee Line photograph taken June 1st 2001.

The Ongar station photographs were taken on 17th March 2002.

All material on this page, unless otherwise stated is © 2001, Hywel Williams, all rights reserved.

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