Amazing train stations in Nostalgic London
1) Gants Hill Underground Station
Hundreds of Londoners may well use this gateway to the Central Line every day without ever noticing its unique design, but look up and it’s kind of special. Designed by Charles Holden in a simple, modernist style, the 1930s station features a sleek barrel-vaulted ceiling said to have been inspired by the Moscow metro system. Like what you see? Holden also designed stately Senate House, which houses the University of London’s library, and 55 Broadway, considered to be the city’s first skyscraper.
2) St Pancras Station
With its sweeping wrought iron roof and grand Gothic exterior, St Pancras Station is a brilliant example of Victorian style and engineering. When it was built, the roof was the largest single span roof in the world. The station has changed a lot since it first opened – it now runs Eurostar trains to the continent – but the modern station has been designed to allow its 19th century origins to shine. Wander along the neat red brick arches and allow yourself to be transported back to 1868.
3) Clapham South Station
Swerve the actual Tube station and head 11 storeys underground. You can delve this deep only as part of tours run by the London Transport Museum – they run regularly but are popular and often sell out. The tour will take you to the station’s deep-level shelter, around a mile of tunnels that were used by thousands of Londoners as bomb shelters during the Blitz and later as temporary accommodation for Windrush migrants in the late 1940s. The cramped space is frozen in time, with bunk beds and original signage all still there.
4) Down Street Station
London is dotted with old abandoned Tube stations that, for one reason or another, are no longer in use – you can spot what remains of Aldwych station on the Strand, for example. One of them, Down Street station, part of the Piccadilly Line between 1907 and 1932, is especially intriguing. After its closure Down Street went on to be covert wartime offices used by the Railway Executive Committee and frequented by Winston Churchill, who kipped overnight there, using the space as a secret bomb shelter. The tunnels, stairways and platforms were converted into offices and living quarters for staff, who lived and slept underground in shifts. On a Hidden London tour, you can spot the remnants – signage from this time, a telephone exchange, and rooms that, astonishingly, were wallpapered for the executives – as Piccadilly Line trains continue to rattle past.
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