I have looked at a number of the abandoned stations on the London Underground, including Down Street.
The most plausible dis-used underground station to re-invent is the Aldwych Station on the Piccadilly Line, situated at the junction of the Strand and Surrey Street in the City of Westminster in Central London. The station opened on the 30th November 1907 and was first know as Strand Station as it was built on the site of the old Strand Theatre. It was re-named because of confusion with another station at the time that was also referred to as Strand Station.
Since 1917 only one track at Aldwych was ever used due to low commuter numbers from the outset. Platform B and its tunnels were closed, sealed with concrete and the track lifted, so platform B was never serviceable. The platform was instead used to trial new platform designs for other station and to test new lighting systems.
The Aldwych branch line was closed during the Second World War, and for nearly six years its tunnels were used as public air raid shelters. Additionally they were also used at the time to store national treasures from the British Museum, such as the Parthenon Sculptures, otherwise known as the “Elgin Marbles”. The station was re-opened after the war, but having suffered much of its existence from low passenger demand, finally closed on 30th September 1994. At the time of its closure only around 600 people were using the station daily.
Ultimately, the much needed refurbishment of the stations’ elevators was not cost effective in terms of the stations use, and this sealed its’ fate. The estimated cost in 1994 to refurbish the lifts was between £3-5 million.
When the last public train left Aldwych it ended just less than 87 years of public service. Because the station was fairly seldom used during just less than 87 years of service, it hadn’t really been modernised much in all those years. The station now offers a rare insight into how tube stations looked in the past.
Aldwych Station was built on land previously occupied by an art gallery, a non-conformist chapel and the Old Royal Strand Theatre, which was demolished in 1905 to permit the construction of the station. Some say the station is haunted by the ghost of an actress. The station is situated close to many West End Theatres, the reason the station was built was to transport visitors to the theatres.
The building has Grade 2 listing. The ox-blood red faience block tiles used on the exterior are a signature design feature of the architect Leslie Green, who was commissioned to create around 40 of the early station buildings on the Northern, Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines. The L-shaped buildings’ tiled façades, of which there are two; one on the Strand and the other of Surrey Street, have been cleaned and repainted. The station retains the original ticket hall, lift enclosures and tiling on the lower levels. The ticket hall has also been vastly restored to its’ former glory.
The well preserved interior has made the site a very popular location for parties, book launches and art exhibitions. The interior has also featured in a number of films and television series. The station is also used by London Underground as a training site, it was used by police and rescue services to stage a two day exercise against terrorist attack on the run up to the 2012 Olympic Games.
The station has many Georgian features. Many of the surviving architectural characteristics have an Art Nouveau influence; in the style known as Arts and Crafts Classical.
There are 160 steps leading down to the platform level accessed via a spiral staircase. There are also some tunnels that have never been used, they may not possibly be finished as the station was never fully operable? The lifts were never refurbished, this would need to be addressed if the site were to be made available to the public and accessible to the disabled, so would need to find a costing for this. The other alternative escape route would be out along the one open tunnel which leads to Holborn station which is the next on the track.
Currently platform A and the ticket office on the entrance level can be hired and used for special events and filming purposes. The London Transport Museum occasionally offer public guided tours, but the station has irregular use. Trains can still be brought in and out of the east bound platform A from the Piccadilly Line. Platform B is completely un-used, forgotten and neglected.
Film Links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xSzU0oM4mM