The allure of abandoned Tube stations

The New Year's Day episode of Sherlock included a plot line about abandoned London Underground stations. The eerie empty platforms and booking offices have enthralled photographers.

Without revealing any spoilers, the detective drama referenced the many stations beneath London's streets that have been closed but not demolished.

Such is the allure of the mothballed stations that occasional tours of their tiled platforms, which have been left with their posters to rot, are popular with photographers, transport enthusiasts and people who are fascinated by these ghostly places below the capital.

Aldwych, below, which operated from 1907 to 1994, has doubled as other Tube stations in a number of films


Transport for London doesn't pin down the exact number of disused underground stations, but says there are "in the region of 40". Some of these were relocated so their names live on, but 20 on the list won't be found on a current Tube map, as this ghost map of the London Underground shows.

Tube corridor Aldwych station is still Grade II listed

The Sherlock episode refers to a half-finished Tube stop called "Sumatra Road". In fact, there is no such station. It's a sly reference to the "giant rat of Sumatra", which is mentioned in Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire.

King William Street tube King William Street station is a deep-level tunnel below Monument station
Aldwych station platform Aldwych station was used for some of the filming in Sherlock. It was also used to store the Elgin Marbles during World War II
Sign Aldwych station was used in World War I to store the National Gallery’s collection
Booking office No need for the Aldwych ticket office to be open
posters flaking Posters have been left on the platforms

Real-life disused stations were used as air-raid shelters in the blitz and one, Brompton Road, was sold to the War Office in 1938 and is used by the Ministry of Defence.

Aside from television and film, members of the public rarely get chance to see unused stations. But businessman Ajit Chambers says he has the financial backing to change 26 of them into tourist attractions and event spaces, with climbing walls in the deep shafts.

Commonwealth market poster Posters, like these at Aldwych, can give an indication as to when the Underground stations were in operation
Staff notice Lords station, where this sign is displayed, was closed in 1939
posters flaking This article terminates here

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