The metro stations have always captivated photographers, architects and tourists. They do the overwhelming current buildings and also the oldest, abandoned, mysterious.
The London Underground has 155 years of history. Its official opening was on January 10, 1863. Since then many stations have stopped being used, some demolished, although at least forty remain intact, as they were. These facilities are usually outside the reach of the public, although guided tours are organized from time to time.
And this is one of those moments. The London Transport Museum offers different visits in October, November and December to discover some of the most secret and interesting spaces in the city. In fact, some of those tours are already complete, but others still accept reservations on their website. The visits will last about 90 minutes – depending on each season – and adult tickets cost around 40 euro.
The Churchill bunker
During these visits we can see, for example, how the secret bunker of Prime Minister Winston Churchill during the German bombing in World War II was enabled at the Down Street station in Mayfair, which functioned as a metro station between 1907 and 1932. It was the underground stage of the meetings of the Railways Emergency Committee, in charge of coordinating the vital railway infrastructures throughout the country during the war. The area of the platforms and the roads were divided into offices and dormitories, with toilets, showers and a telephone exchange. The meetings were held in the labyrinth of tunnels.
In the routes of these three months you will also be able to know the Aldwych station, one of the most secret places in London; the labyrinth of dark and dusty passages of Euston; or the unknown and disused spaces of the Charing Cross station, under Trafalgar Square, among others.
Some facts about the London Underground
The “tube”, as this essential means of transport is known in a city of very long distances like London, transports 1,100 million people a year in a network composed of 270 stations spread over 402 kilometers of track. Seven underground and four surface lines transport almost four million passengers each day.
The London Underground has 19,000 employees to serve 270 stations, 4,134 wagons and 1,100 million passengers per year. Its trains run at an average speed of 33 km/hour. Interestingly, only 45% of the metro network runs under tunnels. On the first trip between Paddington and Farringdon on January 9, 1863, 40,000 people traveled on the subway. In six months it was already transporting 26,000 people every day. Today the number of travelers reaches almost four million daily. And only in Waterloo, the busiest station in the network, 57,000 people pass in the three rush hours of the morning.
The London Underground hosts about twelve feature films every year, and has a specific office to handle the demands, with an average cost of about 600 euro per hour of filming. For the filming of some of the “Skyfall” sequences in the subway, they mobilized more than 400 people between “extras” and technical equipment, for example. The most cinematographic station is the one of Aldwych, in the Central Line, already out of use, but also those of East Finchley or Charing Cross have been used.
image source: Flickr