Tuesday, December 18, 2012

[The Life of Shaun #458] Aldwych

A couple of weeks ago, some friends and I embarked on what Richard called "the equivalent of going to Buckingham Palace for transport geeks": a tour of the disused Aldwych (nĂ© Strand) Station.  Aldwych was the Southern terminus of a short shuttle train that ran from Holborn to the Strand/Aldwych, and was the bastard stepchild of the planned tube routes and the ones that eventually emerged.  As this route can comfortably be walked in under ten minutes, it has always been more an expensive dedication to a plan than a useful transport link.

The station was in use until the mid-90s, when it retired and took on a more successful second career as a training centre, model for other station layout testing, and movie set (V for Vedetta amongst the recent examples).  The end came when a lift needed to be replaced and a £3m pricetag was attached to the project.  As the ridership was around 400 people/day at the time, the shutters were drawn on one of London's obscurest urban idiosyncrasies.

The six of us duly oohed and ahed at the disheveled station, the original wooden ticket booths, fading posters, sections of test tile; we chatted with other like-minded Londoners and tourists alike, all smiling and inexplicably happy in the way a kid is on Christmas day; we posed for pics, took pics for others; pontificated about the overground extension to Clapham completing the overground circular and other transport successes and follies -- and all the while it never escaped us that we'd each just spent £20 to look at a tube station.  Money well spent.


An old tube map, showing the Aldwych appendage.

The lift that brought the demise.

Old tube posters.

My favourite of the old tube posters - I think people still haven't gotten the message, at least at Bank.


Jim, me, Richard, James, Alexi and Javier in our glory.

Me surveying the older platform.

Way out.

Shaun H. Coley | At large in Naperville, IL | www.nocirc.org

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