5 December 2012

Hidden London - Aldwych Station

I've always been a bit of a London Underground geek - from the history of the lines themselves and the disused stations to the iconic logo, maps and typography, it's proved to be a minor obsession. So when the London Transport Museum announced that they were throwing open the doors of Aldwych station for a number of days over the Christmas period, I leapt at the chance. I've always thought Leslie Green's Underground stations with their distinctive red glazed brickwork, Edwardian styling and bottle green tilework were beautiful, so couldn't wait for a snoop around.

Which is how I came to find myself shivering in a queue in a quiet side street of London near the Thames. We had our bags checked by a museum volunteer, who also checked that our shoes were both flat and practical should we need to be evacuated down the tracks to Holborn. After a 15 minute wait, my husband and I found ourselves inside and I couldn't resist but photograph everything in sight, and this was before the tour had even started.

Aldwych station facade

entrance to booking hall


 book here

We were given a potted history of Aldwych station  (you can read more here if you're interested) before being taken below ground to see the platforms. The westbound platform is the one most people are familiar with - Aldwych only had one "functional" platform for the vast majority of its working life as the Eastbound one was closed in 1917. The westbound platform is the one that was open up until 1994 and has been used as a film set for films like Atonement, V for Vendetta, 28 Weeks Later and various music videos alongside of being an air raid shelter in both world wars. The posters on this platform tend to change with each filming project and as such are reproduction posters.

 tunnel to the westbound platform

posters on the westbound platform - the two on the right are reproductions

train on the westbound platform

front of train - actually a 1970's Northern Line train!


The eastbound platform in some ways is far more interesting - it ceased to be used after WW1 and was used to store treasures from the V&A and British Museum during the second world war. The posters here are original as this platform was often used as a test platform - from testing the glue to put up posters (still going strong after 40 years in some cases -it must be good!) to experimental tiles eventually used at Piccadilly Circus.

original posters on the eastbound platform

experimental tiles eventually used at Piccadilly Circus

more posters - all dating from around the 1970's

and a view of the Eastbound platform

When we finally returned to the surface, we were greeted up glasses of mulled wine and the TfL choir serenading us with a combination of old-time popular songs (Daisy Bell and Let's All Go Down To The Strand) and well known Christmas carols.

 R humoured me as I wanted to recreate the Anton Corbin Joy Division photograph. Also, a mysterion Bakerloo Line sign...

This current run of Aldwych visits is sold out, but LTM seem to open its doors about once or twice a year, so it's well worth keeping your eyes peeled for another set of visits.

way out

London Transport Museum


  1. Ah, this is brilliant. I've been hoping you would blog about this - love the photographs!

    1. It was such a fun evening! I borrowed my mum's G12 as I wasn't sure whether I'd be allowed to bring in my SLR (it said "no professional cameras") - such a lovely camera!