Beneath our Feet: Unveiling the Forgotten Underground

The London Underground, famously known as the Tube, is an iconic symbol of London’s transportation network.

Its history stretches back over a century, filled with remarkable stories of engineering feats, wartime resilience, and mysterious occurrences. While many of its stations are well-known and bustling with commuters, there are several hidden gems that have faded into obscurity.

This article explores the fascinating history of six of London’s infamous and now closed Tube stations. We’ll uncover their haunting tales, alternative purposes, accidents, and their role during World War II. Let’s embark on a journey into the depths of London’s forgotten underground.

Down Street

Down Street Station is a disused tube station located in the prestigious Mayfair district of London. It was originally part of the Great Northern, Piccadilly, and Brompton Railway (now the Piccadilly Line) and operated from 1907 to 1932.

While it may not be as well-known as some of London’s bustling stations, Down Street Station holds a fascinating history and has gained notoriety for its intriguing past.


One of the most remarkable aspects of Down Street Station is its wartime role as a secret bunker during World War II. In 1939, as the threat of air raids loomed over London, the station was converted into an underground command centre for Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his War Cabinet.

Down Street
A long forgotten sign in Down Street Station. The tube was top secret during WW2

Its location, away from the prying eyes and potential bombardment of enemy forces, made it an ideal site for the top-secret operations and strategic planning that took place within its walls.

Read More: TAXI!: From Sedan Chairs to the Black Cabs of London 

The station was transformed into a fully functioning bunker, complete with rooms for the Prime Minister and his staff, communication facilities, and storage areas for supplies. Its underground tunnels provided a secure and secluded space where crucial decisions were made and the course of the war was shaped.

Throughout the war, Churchill and his Cabinet would often gather at Down Street Station to discuss military strategies, review intelligence reports, and coordinate operations.

Top Secret

Despite its vital wartime role, Down Street Station’s existence as a bunker was kept highly classified. It was referred to as “Paddock” in official documents to maintain its secrecy. The station’s strategic importance and the clandestine nature of its activities made it an essential component of London’s defence during the war.

Today, the disused station is no longer accessible to the public. The platforms and tunnels that once buzzed with passengers now remain eerily quiet and empty. However, remnants of its past can still be seen in the station’s architecture and layout.

Read More: A History of Camouflage in WW2 Britain 

The walls bear witness to the history that unfolded within, offering a glimpse into the covert operations that took place during one of the most critical periods in British history.

While Down Street Station is no longer a bustling transport hub, its significance as a secret bunker during World War II has captured the imagination of historians and visitors alike. The station stands as a testament to the ingenuity and adaptability of London’s transportation infrastructure, which played an integral role in safeguarding the nation during times of crisis.

It serves as a poignant reminder of the city’s resilience and the hidden stories that lie beneath its streets, waiting to be discovered by those willing to explore its rich history.

British Museum

The British Museum tube station, although not widely known to many Londoners and tourists, holds a captivating story within its silent corridors. Located in the bustling neighbourhood of Bloomsbury, this closed station played a significant role in the early years of the London Underground and has left an intriguing mark on the city’s transport history.

British Museum tube station
The British Museum Tube Station seen here in the late 1990s. It had already blended in with London’s shops.

The British Museum station first opened its doors to the public on February 22, 1900, as part of the Central London Railway (now the Central Line). It was strategically positioned near the British Museum, one of the world’s most renowned cultural institutions, in order to cater to the large number of visitors flocking to the museum’s extensive collections.


However, the station faced numerous challenges from the start. Its proximity to other stations, such as Holborn and Russell Square, led to lower-than-expected passenger numbers. As a result, the decision was made to close the British Museum station on September 24, 1933, after only 33 years of service.

Since its closure, the station has remained hidden from public view. Its platforms and passageways lie dormant beneath the bustling streets of Bloomsbury, preserving a fascinating piece of London’s transport heritage.

Read More: WWII RAF Airman Nicknamed the Blackout Ripper Murdered Four Women in London

Despite being closed to the public, there have been occasional proposals and discussions about reopening the station due to its prime location near popular tourist attractions. However, various challenges, including the station’s depth and the proximity of existing stations, have hindered such plans from materialising.

While the British Museum station may no longer serve as a gateway to the treasures of the museum, its story continues to intrigue urban explorers and transport enthusiasts. The station’s unique architecture and design, characteristic of the early London Underground, have piqued the curiosity of those who venture into its hidden realms.

A New Life?

It is worth noting that the British Museum station’s closure has not diminished its significance. In recent years, there have been calls to repurpose the disused station for other uses, such as exhibition spaces or cultural venues, that would celebrate its historical importance and contribute to the vibrant atmosphere of the neighbourhood.

As one walks through the streets of Bloomsbury, the memory of the British Museum station lingers, reminding us of the ever-evolving nature of London’s transport system. It stands as a testament to the challenges faced by early underground infrastructure and the constant need for adaptation and progress.

Read More: A History of Camouflage in WW2 Britain 

While the British Museum station may be a forgotten relic of the past, it serves as a reminder of the rich history woven into the fabric of London’s underground network.


Aldwych tube station, tucked away in the heart of London’s West End, holds a unique place in the city’s transport history. Originally known as Strand Station, it opened in 1907 as part of the Great Northern, Piccadilly, and Brompton Railway (now the Piccadilly Line).

While it served the public for several decades, the station eventually closed its doors in 1994, leaving behind a captivating legacy and tales of its extraordinary past.


One of the distinctive aspects of Aldwych station is its transformation during times of conflict. During both World Wars, the station played a crucial role in safeguarding precious artworks from the nearby British Museum.

The Eastern platform at Aldwych Tube Station

As the threat of bombings loomed over London, the museum’s valuable collections were relocated to the safety of Aldwych station’s subterranean tunnels. The station became a temporary haven, hidden from the chaos above, ensuring the preservation of irreplaceable cultural treasures.

In addition to its wartime significance, Aldwych station also carved a niche for itself in the world of entertainment. Its unique architecture and disused platforms made it an appealing location for film shoots and theatrical productions.

Read More: Violette Szabo, SOE Agent’s Museum Protected Indefinitely 

The station’s atmospheric ambiance and period charm have been featured in notable films such as “V for Vendetta” and “Atonement.” The allure of Aldwych station as a backdrop for storytelling and cinema lies in its abandoned platforms, untouched by the hustle and bustle of everyday commuter life.


Over the years, Aldwych station has gained a reputation for being one of London’s most haunted underground sites. Visitors and staff alike have reported eerie encounters and unexplained phenomena within its empty corridors.

Legends tell of ghostly figures roaming the abandoned platforms, mysterious sounds echoing through the tunnels, and a general sense of unease permeating the atmosphere. These spectral tales only add to the station’s enigmatic allure, drawing in curious explorers and paranormal enthusiasts seeking a glimpse into its haunted history.

Aldwych tube station was formerly the Strand

Despite its closure to the public, Aldwych station occasionally emerges from the shadows for special events and tours. London Transport Museum occasionally organises guided tours, allowing visitors to step back in time and experience the station’s unique ambiance.

These limited opportunities provide a rare chance to walk along the deserted platforms and immerse oneself in the station’s rich history.

Read More: WWI Trench Raiding Weapons

Aldwych station stands as a testament to the ever-changing nature of London’s transport landscape. While its operational years may have come to an end, its legacy lives on, capturing the imagination of those who venture into its abandoned depths.

Whether through wartime resilience, cinematic fame, or eerie ghostly tales, Aldwych station continues to fascinate and intrigue, inviting us to delve into the mysteries of its storied past and discover the secrets it holds within its silent corridors.

King William Street

King William Street tube station, located in the heart of the City of London, has a fascinating history that reflects the ever-evolving nature of London’s underground network. Although the station no longer operates as a public transport hub, its story and significance endure.

King William Street
Built in the late 1800s King William Street station platform was too short for modern tube trains.

Originally opened in 1890 as part of the City and South London Railway (now the Northern Line), King William Street station served as a vital connection between the City and the southern areas of London. It was strategically positioned near important landmarks such as the Bank of England and London Bridge, catering to the growing demands of commuters and visitors in the bustling financial district.

Too Small!

Despite its initial promise, King William Street station faced several challenges throughout its existence. Due to its location in the heart of the City, the station’s tunnels had to navigate a labyrinth of existing underground infrastructure, making expansion and modernisation near impossible. As a result, the station’s platforms were deemed too short to accommodate the longer trains introduced in the mid-20th century.

Read More: Luger from WW2 Handed into the Police

In 1940, during the height of World War II, King William Street station was closed indefinitely due to severe bomb damage suffered during the Blitz. The station’s tunnels and platforms became a silent witness to the devastation inflicted upon the city, serving as a haunting reminder of the impact of war.

The King William Street
Dead End. The King William Street Tube. (Image: London Transport Museum)

Although the decision was made to permanently close the station in 1949, its ghostly presence remained etched in the memories of those who once passed through its turnstiles.

A Sad End

Today, the disused station has found new purpose and has been repurposed for various uses. Its tunnels have been utilized for engineering and ventilation purposes, supporting the efficient operation of the Northern Line. The station’s original street-level entrance, an iconic feature designed by architect Leslie Green, has been preserved and stands as a reminder of the station’s past.

While King William Street station may no longer serve as a bustling transport hub, its history and significance continue to captivate urban explorers and transport enthusiasts. Its architectural features and remnants of its past transport passengers back in time, evoking a sense of nostalgia for an era when steam trains and Victorian elegance defined the city’s transportation landscape.

York Road

York Road tube station, although now closed and forgotten, holds a captivating history within the depths of London’s underground network. Situated in the Waterloo area of the city, it served as a crucial transport hub connecting passengers to various parts of the capital. Although its operational years were relatively short, York Road station left an indelible mark on London’s transport heritage.

Bakerloo Line

The station first opened its doors to the public on March 15, 1906, as part of the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway (now the Bakerloo Line). Its strategic location near the busy Waterloo station made it an important interchange point for commuters and travelers.

Read More: War Horse: A Brief History of Horses on the Battlefield

York Road station offered a convenient link to destinations such as Oxford Circus, Paddington, and Baker Street, facilitating seamless journeys across the city.

Despite its promising start, York Road station faced challenges that eventually led to its closure. The station’s location, sandwiched between Waterloo and Embankment stations, made it less viable from an operational standpoint.

York Road
The war memorial and kiosks inside the abandoned York Road Station.

The close proximity of these two major stations and the subsequent duplication of services rendered York Road station redundant.

After only 21 years of service, York Road station closed its doors to the public on September 19, 1926. The station’s tunnels and platforms, once bustling with passengers, fell into disuse and gradually faded into obscurity. Today, the remnants of York Road station lie hidden beneath the streets of London, a silent reminder of its past significance.

Art Gallery?

Although closed to the public, the station has not been forgotten entirely. Over the years, there have been occasional proposals and discussions about repurposing the disused station for various purposes.

Ideas have ranged from transforming it into an underground art gallery to using it as a unique event space. While these proposals have not materialised, they underscore the intrigue and potential that York Road station still holds.

While the station’s operational history may be relatively short, its legacy extends beyond its closure. York Road station remains a testament to London’s ever-changing transport landscape and the continuous evolution of the city’s underground network.

Read More: German Bunker Opened for the First Time on British Territory

Its presence serves as a reminder of the intricate web of tunnels and stations that lie beneath London’s surface, supporting the bustling life and movement of the capital.

In conclusion, York Road tube station may no longer serve as a busy transport interchange, but its story and significance endure. As London continues to evolve, the remnants of York Road station stand as a silent witness to the city’s rich history and the ceaseless progress of its transport infrastructure.

South Kentish Town

South Kentish Town tube station, nestled in the vibrant neighbourhood of Kentish Town in North London, carries a rich history that stretches back over a century.

The station first opened its doors to the public on June 22, 1907, as part of the Charing Cross, Euston, and Hampstead Railway (now the Northern Line). Located between Kentish Town and Camden Town stations, South Kentish Town station catered to the needs of local residents and commuters traveling to and from central London.

South Kentish Tube
The exterior to South Kentish Tube (Image: London Transport Museum)

The station’s architecture reflected the distinctive design of Leslie Green, a renowned architect of many London Underground stations during the early 20th century. Green’s signature style featured vibrant ox-blood red tiled façades, which added a touch of elegance and cohesion to the city’s underground network.

Read More: CEMA: A Reconstructed WWI Trench in the Kent Countryside? 

The proximity of neighbouring stations and the relatively low passenger numbers led to its eventual closure on June 5, 1924. The decision to close the station was a result of the duplication of services and the need to streamline operations within the London Underground system.

Following its closure, South Kentish Town station underwent a transformation. The platforms and tunnels were repurposed for various uses, including storage and ventilation purposes. The station’s exterior, with its distinctive red tiles, remained as a reminder of its past significance, while its interior evolved to accommodate the changing needs of London’s underground infrastructure.


The history of the London Underground is a captivating tale of engineering marvels, wartime resilience, and intriguing mysteries. While the bustling stations of the Tube network draw millions of passengers each day, there are hidden gems that have slipped into obscurity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *