Aldwych Underground Station, London

Aldwych Station, formally known as Strand, was a branch line and terminus of the Piccadilly line of the London Underground network. Throughout the life of the station, it was a little used station in the centre of London that was only served by a shuttle service from Holborn Station. It is not known why the station was constructed as a terminus, but it can be presumed that the amalgamation of three Underground Projects in London caused this oddity. The Piccadilly Line was a combination of three pre-existing projects – the Great Northern & Strand Railway (Wood Green to Aldwych), the Brompton & Piccadilly Circus Railway (Piccadilly Circus to South Kensington, following a different route to today) and the Deep Level District, (express route from Earl’s Court to Mansion House). The combination of these projects somehow left a short spur leading to Aldwych, presumably a planning constraint of the new line.

The station opened to Passengers in 1907 as Strand, in 1915 due to the combination of the lines at Charing Cross, and the renaming of that station to Strand, Aldwych was given its new name. The line was never served particularly well and only a two car shuttle from Holborn was run to the station. In 1914, the eastern platform was closed to train services. During the air raids on London in World War One, Aldwych served as a store for the national gallery and as a makeshift bomb shelter. After WWI, the ticket office was closed and the lift operative was charged with collecting and selling tickets. Throughout the life of the station, the staffing levels were kept to a minimum.

During World War Two, the station was again converted into a store for the Museums, with western platform being transferred for public shelter use and could accommodate 1500 people. It was not until a year after the war that service was restored to the station and the museum store was maintained until 1955. After the war, the disused platform found a new use as an experimental area, being used to test new finishes for the London Underground.

The station eventually closed in 1994 as the original 1907 wooden lifts required replacement. The lifts are still in situ, and are the last remaining 1907 Otis lifts on the network. It was revealed that the station was losing £150,000 a year. The decision was made, and the station was closed. Unlike other closed tube stations on the network, Aldwych has still led a busy life. It offers a film set for anyone requiring a tube station as a set, the eastern tunnel is still used for engineering prototypes. The western tunnel and platform are also used for emergency services training, as the tunnel still contains live rails and a train can be parked in it. This allows for an accurate simulation of a train in tunnel scenario.

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Modified: 1st Apr 2017