Or why Aldwych Station is the best ‘#EmptyUnderground’ ever.
Formerly known as ‘Strand’, Aldwych first opened in 1907, closed in 1940, reopened in 1946 and then closed again, for the final time, in 1994.
Twenty years later, sharp-eyed Sherlock fans (as if there’s any other kind) would go on to spot it in the first episode of season three, ‘The Empty Hearse’ (as confirmed by Buzzfeed and the BBC shortly after).
Back in November, my good friend Robbie managed to lay his hands on an extremely rare pair of tickets for the tour of the now abandoned station and, if you know anything about me and a certain hobby I have, you’d know that it was pretty much like Christmas coming a whole month early for me – I couldn’t have been more excited.
Aldwych is amazing. The above photo, for example, shows a track before the introduction of ‘suicide pits’ – a fairly recent addition that a medical study found halved the death rate of those falling onto (or under) the tracks (it was the first thing I spotted when we entered this part of the station; it’s weird to see tracks flat like this, I thought anyway).
Interesting facts about Strand/Aldwych:
- Located on The Strand, the station is/was on the Piccadilly line and was the terminus and only station the short branch from Holborn.
- During both World Wars, aside from being partially fitted out as an air-raid shelter, disused parts of the tunnels were used to store and protect artworks from London’s museums from bombing – including the Elgin Marbles.
- While many old posters can be seen adoring the walls of the platform, nearly of these have been placed there by movie studios, to provide the ‘old abandoned platform’ look for many films.
There are no rats in Aldwych, apparently. What with a distinct lack of commuters down there every day, they have no opportunities to snack on our litter. Sad but true.
What’s also sad (but also quite cool) is that the tours aren’t really on that regularly. You have to be super keen to catch one. So keep your eyes peeled, you never know when they might open them again.
UPDATE: see the comments for an update on when the tickets might be available again in 2014.
All photos taken, by me, with the Nokia Lumia 1020, published under Creative Commons with the full set of photos available on my Flickr page.