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Eight geotag journalists exploring your city. This week: Contrasting London.

Underground History: Abandoned, Transformed or Still Undecided

By Xudong Xeng

Each time you step into the train and it roars into darkness, do you ever get the feeling of running into the tunnel of history?

London’s underground started its journey in the 19th century with only six stations. It’s been quite a journey since. There are now eleven lines and 270 stations and almost three million journeys are taken every day.

As lines have developed, some stations have been left aside. There are many old tube stations that are not serving their original purpose, what does Transport for London do with them?

As these stations are not that visible, they are part of the history that has been easily forgotten by the locals, let alone visitors.

They would often be found in one of the three situations: left deserted, transformed for other purposes or their fate is left undecided.

Abandoned

Aldwych tube station in the Westminster was originally opened as ‘Strand’ in 1907.

The station was the terminus of a short Piccadilly line branch from Holborn. The disused station building is situated close to the junction of Strand and Surrey Street.

“There weren’t many passengers here and it was only open during peak hours. Then it was closed in 1994,” says a police officer on the patrol. “Nowadays it is kind of a popular a filming spot.”

The station has appeared in films like Patriot Games as itself and as stations under other names.

Transformed

Fulham Broadway is still a functioning station, but it’s original ticket office has been turned into the Union Market.

The market mainly focuses on traditional British foods, with offerings such as cheese from Neal’s Yard, cakes and breads from The Bread Factory, pasta from the Fresh Pasta Company.

But what makes it unique is its location, with the ticket hall dating back to 1905 and many of the original features still there. There is also a coffee shop in the end of the hall, where people can indulge in cosy chat whilst immersed in the nostalgic feeling of the vintage station design.

“I have been living in this area for years. Sitting here reminds me of old times,” says Bill McCartney with a peaceful smile.

Undecided:

Adjacent to the Brick Lane, Shoreditch station is located in a quite dynamic area where you can spot stylish people and delightful vintage shops. However, not so many people are aware of the existence of the old Underground station.

Take a turn at the Brick Lane and go through the narrow path; you will see a house with it’s door closed and graffiti all over the walls.

“It used to stay open for a few hours per day. But now it has been forgotten,” says John Davis who is playing with his son in the park nearby. “Visitors barely know it is here, especially the young people.”

Shoreditch is the northern terminus of the old East London line. The station closed in 2006, and the rest of the line re-opened last year as part of the London Overground. However, Shoreditch was replaced by Shoreditch High Street.

Recently the building has been auctioned by the Andrews&Robertson at a price of £665,000. Any further development is still in question.

There are far more old stations out here. The Underground History has visited quite a few of them.

Click here to find out more about the history of London underground.
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