I never know what to do with myself on a bank holiday. I thought I’d take a little trip up to the Museum of London. It’s a long time since I was last there, and on that occasion they were refurbishing some of the galleries. I took the Tube to Bank, half of which seemed to be closed (marry, ‘tis a “Bank” holiday in troth, hey nonny!) and strolled up there, through the City.
Upon arriving at the Museum, I discovered that all the lower galleries were being refurbished, and after muttering “Christ’s sake” under my breath, I decided to just go for a bit of a wander (a dérive, as the psychogeographers say). It took me through the Barbican Centre, Clerkenwell, Kings Cross, Islington, Camden, Kentish Town, Highgate, Gospel Oak, Highgate Village (by accident) and Archway. Describing the whole route would take forever, and I appreciate you’re a very busy man/woman/spam program, so for now I’ll just mention the abandoned Tube stations I found. You can have the rest later.
Abandoned tube stations are endlessly fascinating. I think the reason so many people find them interesting is actually slightly psychogeographical. So many people use Tube stations every day (never just one, for some reason) that one you can’t use, that’s terra incognita, gives us pause. And, of course, they have the air of the haunted house or the urban legend – in many cases, they’ve simply been left as they were when the trains stopped running.
I found two of these by accident on my walk. I’d heard of them, thanks to J. E. Connor’s excellent Abandoned Stations on London’s Underground, one of the few books in my collection of Underground books that people actually read without being forced. But to actually stumble across them still feels like a bit of an achievement. The first was York Road, formerly on the Piccadilly Line. This involves cutting up alongside King’s Cross Station (the road on the right as you face it) and going on and on. The route becomes very industrial and grim, not the sort of place you’d want to visit on your own after dark or, indeed, ever.
And there it is, just standing there. It looks completely incongruous, like it should be on a street in the West End, not surrounded by abandoned buildings, facing on to a field. The station lies between King’s Cross and Caledonian Road and was closed in 1932. The fact that the area was so industrial was its doom. However, redevelopment of the area as part of the Kings Cross Central project means that there are calls for the station to be reopened, so who knows? Maybe this entry will become embarrassingly out of date.
The other one I found was not so easy to identify, as the location was covered up by a massive ‘CASH CONVERTERS’ sign.
However, diligent research (i.e. reading Mr Connor’s book) revealed this to be South Kentish Town. It was located between Camden Town and Regular Kentish Town on the Northern Line. Never particularly popular (it’s only a short distance from Kentish Town Station), it closed in 1924 during a strike, and the Powers that Be decided that this was a convenient point to close it down. Apparently one passenger didn’t get the message, and was briefly stranded on the platform after alighting by mistake in 1933.
If you’ve ever wanted to live in an abandoned Tube station (and who hasn’t?), I see that part of the station is to let there. A massage parlour appears to have opened there as well. Opening a massage parlour right next to a busy Underground line is an excellent idea, as it’s one of the few places where you can legitimately guarantee that the earth will move.
http://www.abandonedstations.org.uk/ – a comprehensive guide to the ghost stations of London.