Site Records


SiteName: Aldwych - Holborn branch (Picadilly Line)

Strand
London
WC 2
OS Grid Ref: TQ308809

Sub Brit site visits October 1992, September 1994 & August 1995

[Source: Nick Catford]

On 4th January 1993 it was announced that London Underground Ltd. was proposing to close the line because the lifts, which date back to the lines opening, were worn out and needed replacing at a cost of £3 million. This couldn't be justified with only 450 people using the station each day. The date set for closure was 2nd April 1993 but after objections were received this date was put back with the last train finally running on the 30th September 1994 when for the first time in its 87 year history the platforms and the trains were crowded.

Looking south along Platform 2 at Aldwych in August 1995
Photo:Looking south along Platform 2 at Aldwych in August 1995
Photo by Nick Catford

For many years the disused platform at Aldwych has been used for testing new architectural features, paints, tiles, lighting and finishes prior to use on the Victoria and Jubilee lines and the Heathrow extension. Many of these 'experiments' can still be seen on the platform today. The disused platform at Holborn appears to have been used for the same purpose prior to the construction of the Cockfosters extension. During the war the bay platform was converted into offices filling in the track bed to platform level and partitioning the platform into small rooms and two levels with a narrow corridor running along what was the platform edge; the upper level was used as a dormitory. There was also a canteen at the southern end of the platform with steps down to the former track bed from the end of the platform.

Experimental finish for Holborn and experimental floor tiles on Platform 2 at Aldwych
Photo:Experimental finish for Holborn and experimental floor tiles on Platform 2 at Aldwych
Photo by Nick Catford

The short section of tunnel between the platform and the junction was used as a workshop. Through the 1950's and into the 60's the platform area was used as a staff hostel and more recently has been used as a store for London University. It is still possible to see many of the original features, the curved passage is still clearly visible in the ceiling on the upper level and in the small rooms on the lower level the green and cream tiles are still in place including the tiled name Holborn on one wall, the 'n' being lost behind a partition wall. One door has a sign on it indicating the Central Line Model Railway Club once used it.

The eastern tunnel in August 1995
Photo:The eastern tunnel in August 1995
Photo by Nick Catford

After the war there was a revival of a pre-war plan to extend the line southwards to Waterloo. Although the extension appeared on some maps it was finally dropped in the 1960's with the introduction of the Red Arrow bus service. Later proposals for the Fleet (now Jubilee) line to run through Aldwych were also shelved. Since closure, the line has continued to bring in regular revenue no longer from fare paying passengers but from film and television companies who want to film a scene on the underground. Both Aldwych and Holborn have been seen on numerous TV programmes and even music videos.

The line is still used for testing new features from time to time but as the lift cables have been cut (with the lifts held in place by girders) it is now easier to use Platform 6 at Holborn. This has been fitted with an experimental projection system for projecting advertisements onto the trackside wall. The projectors switch off as a train approaches and on as it departs. The platform has also been raised in line with the train doors, presumably as an experiment to facilitate wheelchairs.

The junction between the running line and easter tunnel in August 1995
Photo:The junction between the running line and eastern tunnel in August 1995
Photo by Nick Catford

Another form of income has come from public tours organised by the London Transport Museum. These tours included the disused platforms at Aldwych with its associated subways and stairways and the short sections of tunnels to the north of the platforms. Private visits have also been arranged for interested specialist groups like Subterranea Britannica who have been able to walk down both running tunnels from Aldwych to Holborn and visit the hostel on Platform 5. Unfortunately the Museum have now stopped running these tours

Further information and pictures about this site continues here

[Source: Nick Catford]

Home Page
Last updated: Thursday, 23-Jan-2003 20:54:22 GMT
© 1998-2002 Subterranea Britannica