In the 19th Century, the London Underground was created to serve the needs of London’s booming suburbs. Today, the Underground (or “Tube” as it’s known colloquially) covers 402 kilometres (or 250 miles) of track and 270 stations. Despite having so many Tube stations now, there are many that go unused, having been shut or one reason or another. Here is a list of some really interesting stations along with why they were shut.
While everything in the museum above has been carefully preserved for history, its old Tube station is practically decrepit. Central London Railways opened it in 1900, with the Holborn station opening in 1906, only 100 yards away. Back then, it was common for stations to open up so close in case the railways opted to link service between the stations. However, such plans never materialised and British Museum station fell into disuse and was closed in 1933. It was re-opened for a time during the 1960s as a military administration office and emergency command post, but closed again and stayed shut.
On the Bakerloo Line, the Trafalgar Square station opened in 1906. It was used for years until the 1970s when the Jubilee Line was built. With the building of the Charing Cross station, the Trafalgar Square and Strand stations were absorbed into Charing Cross, while some of Trafalgar’s lower platforms were wholly abandoned.
Charing Cross – Jubilee Line Platforms
The station that closed Trafalgar Square station itself closed in 1999. Charing Cross was originally built to be the southern terminus of the Jubilee Line, plans already existed to extend the line to Lewisham in south-east London. After the extension was built, a section of tunnel between Charing Cross and Green Park became a branch line of that new extension. The Charing Cross platforms for the Jubilee line officially shut on 30 November, 1999.
Tower of London
Possibly the station with the shortest life of all, it closed in 1884, two years after it opened. It was part of the Metropolitan Railway until 1884 when the District Line and the MR were connected to form the Circle Line. A new station opened at Tower Hill, west of the Tower of London station, which was closed the same day.
Perhaps one of the oldest on this list, it opened in 1869 as part of the London & North Western Railway and the Great Western Railway. In 1905 it became part of the Metropolitan Railway and later the Metropolitan Line of the Underground. Ultimately, the station closed after it was bombed in 1940 and never reopened—that is, until a London Overground station, Shepherd’s Bush, was built over the old Uxbridge Road site in 2008.
Another station opened in 1906, York Road was one of the original stations on the Great Northern, Piccadilly, and Brompton Railway (now simply the Piccadilly Line). It operated infrequently for 26 years until it finally closed in 1932. The reason for the closure is cited as low numbers due to the close proximity to King’s Cross St. Pancras and Caledonian Road stations. Amazingly preserved, the building on top of the street sits unused and the station below is still mostly in-tact. There was a plan to potentially re-open it in 2005, but nothing ever came of it.
Located on the Piccadilly Line, the line was built as a double track and so Aldwych had two platforms, yet early on, it only ran as a single train shuttle service. Aldwych was closed for six years during World War II where it was used as a bomb shelter. Additionally, it was used as a storage spot for the Elgin Marbles. It was shut in 1994 due to low numbers, but had been threatened with the axe for years and only opened during peak-hours. The last train ran through on 30 September, 1994, 87 years after it first opened. If you’ve seen a Tube station in TV or movies, it was likely this station as it is often used for filming.
Poor, neglected Down Street station. Opened in 1907, it was little used for a couple of decades before it was initially closed in 1932. It was built in the first place for wealthy Mayfair residents, who didn’t use it because of a disdainful attitude towards the Underground. It was practically abandoned and run-down even before it was shut. However, it found some use during World War II as part of the home to Churchill’s War Cabinet.
If you go looking for the entrance to St. Mary’s Tube station in Whitechapel, you won’t find it. It was destroyed by a bomb during the Blitz and the authorities never sought to reopen it. While the entrance is no longer there, underneath the pavement, the interior remains, falling apart and covered in graffiti.
Heathrow Terminal 5
Not exactly shut as such, because it was never really used to begin with. During construction of the Heathrow Terminal 4 Loop in the 1980s, some preparatory work was done in case a fifth terminal was ever built. However, though Terminal 5 was eventually built, the original location planned was about one kilometre away from where the terminal is located currently. The current Terminal 5 station is not where the its predecessor was built.