At different times throughout the year, the London Transport Museum arrange tours of some of London's disused tunnels and abandoned underground stations. In February last year, I got to go on the tour of Aldwych Station on the Strand. At the beginning of this year, I booked to go on additional tours through Hidden London and booked to see the disused tunnels of Euston Station. My tour was early on Sunday morning. I've always wondered how Euston got its name; Euston station is named after Euston Hall, the family home of the landowners.
Our meeting point was at the abandoned tube station at Euston on Melton Street. We arrived early and got breakfast at a coffee shop across the street and then joined the queue of people that arrived in that time. When it was time, we went inside the building to watch slides and were told that Euston was the first major mainline station and used to have a beautiful Victorian arched facade and a beautiful Great Hall. The station became over-crowded as it was a terminus for a couple of different train companies, and different tickets needed to be purchased to use the different lines.
We were then taken into another one of the rooms of this building, where we saw the remaining tiles painted white. Some of this paint was rubbed off to show the green colour, which was used for many of the underground stations. The remainder of this building is used as an extractor with a noisey fan that helps circulate the air through the old lift shaft.
After the visit to that room, we were then led to the new Euston station underground. The new station was built in the 1960s when (sadly) it was cheaper to pull down the old Victorian architecture and build new, so the beautiful building was lost forever. Once we descended into the underground, we went onto Platform 6. This was one of the existing old platforms, and the door at the end of the platform went into the abandoned tunnels.
The only below-ground ticket hall level exists at this station not far from the doorway that we entered at the end of Platform 6. We saw the old ticket window. Visitors would use these tunnels to go from one line to another, but they would have to pay for tickets on different lines.
These tunnels were closed to the public during major improvement works. They were closed in the mid-1960s. The blue tiles and advertisements serve as a reminder of their days in the mid-1960s as a time capsule, and I wondered how many people walked by and saw these posters. Some of the highlights in the posters include a "Puss and Boots" from the Theatre Royal, an advertisement for "Coronation Street", "West Side Story" at the Astoria, a poster for P&O cruises, advertisements for hair, advertisements for books/newspapers, film advertisements ('Lonely are the Brave' and 'The Valiant'), sporting events, and advertisements for music (Bobby Darin). The subjects do not really differ too much from today. The typeface and colours (bright, bold neons) are so different.
Another gem of a find is a neon-orange poster advertising the movie "Psycho", which is a classic today. The film was launched in 1960, and it appears that at least one poster would have been covering it before it was ripped off to reveal the title of the film.
Another three gems include travel-related posters. One advertises British Rail, and another advertises the Midway Pullamn train.
After admiring the posters, we walked back down the tunnel to the location of the old lift shafts, which are now empty and used for ventillation purposes. They were actually very chilly. In the image below, the entrance to the lifts is on the left and reminds me of stations that still do have their lifts, including Covent Garden and Goodge Street.
We stepped inside and looked up to see the top of the lift and ground level, which gave us an indication how far down from the surface we were.
The next part of the journey went down to the ventillation chambers in the bare tunnels where we could read the casting years of the metal rings. We walked down the tunnel in the below image and around a tight corner where we came upon four or five vents in the ground below us.
These were above the trains on the Victoria line, and the vents allow air to get through to prevent sunction and make the tube a little more bearable in the winter. The tunnels here were nice and cool. We were told to ensure we kept onto our belongings so they didn't fall down onto the vent grids. We saw people walk by and trains pass directly below us. Apparently, on one tour there was a rowdy group of drunks and the people on the tour kept shouting at them and confused them as no one can see into the vents from the platforms.
This was the last part of the tour, and we decided to look at the original gatehouses that marked the original station entrance before leaving. These complemented the style of the original Euston station. One was for entering the station, and the other was used for exiting the station.
The highlights of this tour were to see the 1960s advertisements and the ventillation chambers above the Victoria line platforms. I'm looking forward to seeing Down Street and Clapham early next year.