Abandoned Tube Stations: Aldwych

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.

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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.

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Whatley talks Apps on the Beeb

Our own James Whatley talks application stores with Rory Cellan-Jones in a feature that originally broadcast on the BBC’s 6pm evening news. Β Rory also posted a follow-up to the dot.life blog including anΒ extended interview with Malcolm Barclay the iPhone developer featured.

The Man from Auntie

“We interupt this broadcast to bring you an important message…

I mentioned last week (amongst other things) that I would be ‘back once again to some cool BBC-based activities’ that I couldn’t actually talk about. Well, I could but I didn’t want to until it was all done, dusted and in the bag as it were… Well in the bag it is so.. Now I can tell you πŸ™‚

This past weekend I was invited onto BBC Radio Five Live‘s ‘Pods & Blogs‘ programme to talk about all things mobile. Well, not all things mobile, (that’d be silly), but just mobile news-based stuff. Things like the T-Mobile G1 ‘Google Phone’, (which I actually got to have a play with a while back), the Firefox ‘Fennec’ Mobile Browser, The Future of Mobile Conference, Mobile Broadband and the new Sony Ericsson W595.

So – for your listening pleasure – I’ve put a little Ovi file together of the whole show. It’s about 24mins long and I come on around the 18min mark. Hope you like it…

You can

download the show Get Adobe Flash player
from the Pods & Blogs website itself but I think it’s only up for a week, so get it quick! πŸ˜‰

In the meantime, writing this up reminded me of the last time I did some stuff with the Beeb. Which, thinking on it, I don’t think I actually blogged about… Hmm. Maybe I should rectify that then? If it’s not too late..

Yeah ok, so way back in March I was invited onto BBC Radio 4‘s Today Programme on behalf of my employer, SpinVox, to talk about ‘The Business of Blogging’… i.e.: What is it I actually do for SpinVox and why (I think) it is important that brands have a presence in the blogosphere..
Because it is y’know… Important.

Rory Cellan-Jones gave his full write-up not long after the show aired but, in keeping with the Ovi multimedia theme of this post – you can listen to that particular segment of the show down below – with thanks to Neil from iGadget Life for capturing it for me.

As ever, your thoughts and feedback are welcome.

J.

MIR: BBC iPlayer on the N95

Howdy folks, Whatley here,

Haven’t written anything for a while, but this is something I just had to share.

I just got back from filming the latest edition of the Mobile Industry Review Show (live from the T-Mobile event) and I was about to go to bed when I found this video in my Google Reader from one James Burland, he of (the quite frankly awesome) Nokia Creative fame.

The man has got the iPlayer up and running on his N95!

Awesome!

So I did a little digging and then I found this piece over on Symbian-Freak about how to install etc and, as well as finding the actual file there, I also found out a few other facts.

  1. If your Nseries has Web Runtime (WRT) enabled, you can haz iPlayer.
  2. N95ers out there – hit *#0000# – if your firmware is v21 or above, you have WRT enabled.
  3. N95, N96 and N85 all confirmed as compatible
  4. Current installation only works over a wifi connection

I’ve poked a few friends of mine at the Beeb to see if we can talk to some of the techies there, fingers crossed we’ll be able to bring you a follow up piece over the next few days outlining some of the finer details.

So what are you waiting for? Download it now and let us know what you think!

:)

Whatley out.

Things to make and do…

So I’ve kinda got the blog-bug back again.

I don’t know why it’s back, or where it’s been etc…
All I know is that I’ve got a bunch of stuff I want to write up.

I could just mass-post the lot, like I did last time, but I think too much content is a bit of overkill.

So here’s just a quick list of things I’d like to write up:
(thanks to Mr Lloyd Davis for the photo too by the way)

  • I was in a cabaret show the other day. Must blog it.
  • The BBC interview I did. Must blog it, (properly).
  • Some general life things, 6mths with SpinVox etc.
  • The (self-imposed) T-Shirt Challenge
  • San Francisco (I covered Vegas already)

And I think that’s it…

I’m going to try and cram everything in over the coming days. But it won’t be more than one post a day… Can’t suddenly increase the words for my loyal readers!

Thanks by the way – whoever you are…

On that note. I’m painfully aware that only VOX members are able to comment on my posts. Which is kinda sucky. So I’m moving… not yet, but soon… to a decent blog-hosting page etc.

A good friend is helping me sort it out at the moment, once we’ve got the template finished, then starts the massive (again, self-imposed) job of consolidating.

I’ve been blogging all over the place for the best part of three years now. So I’m going to go way back to my very first blog and pool all my posts together under one roof…
Like a back catalogue see?

Cool. Expect that sometime before the Summer… (hopefully).
In the meantime – if you want to comment and you’re not a member of VOX, then just drop me a text and tell me what you think… my number is +447774898681.
Looking forward to hearing from you…

And finally…

I got my ticket to Glastonbury! Wheeee!

Kinda has some special resonance on this here VOX as Glastonbury was the reason why I started here, remember?

πŸ™‚

EDIT – This is a re-post from VOX so you’re looking at my new home now -Woo!

Speaking Freely – The Rickmob

“I’ve just been to the Rick Astley Flash Mob at London’s Liverpool Street and it was frigging hilarious. I should be uploading a video as soon as I get in front of my laptop. Fantastic.”

spoken through SpinVox

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EDIT – As promised, here’s the video:

EDIT 2 – Thanks to the immediacy of this post – I ended up appearing on The BBC’s ‘Pods & Blogs’ programme. I’ll see if I can get my hands on the audio and put if up for you…

Whee! πŸ™‚

Life is good…

Yesterday I had one of the best conversations, EVER.
It was only when I had this conversation did I realise how good life actually is at the moment.
An old friend called me up and it went a little something like this…

“Hi James, s’been ages! How are you?”

“Me? I’m good man. Yeah, it’s been SO long! We should definitely catch up sometime soon.”

“Great idea, you free tonight?”

“No mate. Not tonight, going to see R.E.M. at The Royal Albert Hall.”

“Oh. Nice!”

“Yeah. I thought so. Random ticket appeared in my hands from up high. Can’t say no. Got a box and everything!”

“Cool! Ok, how about we do lunch one day this week? When are you in London next?”

“I think I’m in town tomorrow…”

“Ok, we’ll do lunch tomorrow. Sushi or something?”

“Oh. No. Can’t mate, sorry. Bugger. Got an interview at the BBC.”

“WHAT?!”

“Yeah! I know! Cool huh?! Rory-Cellan Jones, Technology Correspondent. Should be good!”

“Right then, the weekend? We could have a lazy pub afternoon on Sunday. A few beers, roast dinner.. proper Sunday y’know? How’s that sound?”

“No can do mate. I’m flying to Las Vegas on Sunday…”

“WTF?!”

“Yeah! Flying out with SpinVox on Sunday afternoon for a big Wireless conference called CTIA. Looking forward to it, should be cooool! Never been to Vegas before….”

“Ok ok ok! When do you leave Vegas?”

“Thursday…but…”

“Ok! We’ll go out Friday!”

“No, I didn’t finish. Thursday I fly to San Francisco to host a lunch for some west coast bloggers… Fly home Friday night. Land Saturday afternoon.”

“Jeez, you’re gonna be knackered!”

“Yeah man, I know. Then I’ve got my show on the Sunday at Madam Jo Jos!”

“Right then. I’ll come see that then.”

“Hehehe… Yeah! Ok, do that!”

πŸ™‚
On top of ALL that, found out today one of my dear friends (who has NOTHING to do with the mobile industry) just so happens to be in Vegas at exactly the same time as me!
So we get to hang out and stuff which is just all kinds of cool…

This, by the way, isn’t some massive brag of a blog post. Life is going well at the moment. And I’m loving it.
Had my 6mth review with SpinVox this morning.

SIX MONTHS!

It seems like only yesterday that I was handing in my notice at Refresh Mobile…

How times flies when you’re having fun eh?
Speak soon folks..

πŸ™‚