There are a number of disused Underground stations in London. Aldwych/Strand is the only one, that I’m aware of, that offers escorted tours. These tours don’t happen very often and sell out within 24 hours of being posted on the London Transport Museum website. I was lucky enough to be able to purchase two tickets.
The station first opened in 1907 as Strand. Then in 1915 was renamed Aldwych as the nearest Northern Line station (Charing Cross) was renamed as Strand. Strand/Charing Cross was renamed back to Charing Cross in 1979.
Aldwych station was never on a through main line, but was a spur that connected to Holborn. Passenger numbers were never high as it was just as easy to walk to other nearby stations. When the lift (elevator) became end of life, it was decided that it wasn’t worth the investment to install new machinery and the station was closed in 1994.
Our ticket leaflet said we should meet at the junction of Strand and Surrey Street 15 minutes before the tour time (20:30). When we arrived there was already a line of people in a makeshift line. Tour leaders arrived and checked we had suitable footwear – apparently if there is a fire, you have to make your way down the tunnels to Holborn!
We were lead into the station and told some history before descending the 160 steps to platform level. The first platform we visited had a 1972 Northern Line train parked and covered in dust. The platform had an Aldwych sign and some wartime posters – all in good condition because these had been put up for a movie.
The second platform was just as it was when closed in 1994. There were interesting posters; one recommending that the UK join the Common Market (EU) and another for BEA – the forerunner to British Airways.
We were told stories about how the station was used as a wartime shelter, not just for people, but also for National Gallery pictures, items from Buckingham Palace and also the Elgin Marbles.
Soon we had to climb back up. We were shown the now defunct lift and how passengers could be evacuated via connecting door into the neighbouring lift.
A really interesting tour and well worth booking if you see tickets available.