A couple of entries ago, I got to talking about Tube stations that get used for filming. I briefly mentioned Vauxhall Cross, the abandoned station that appears in the mediocre James Bond movie Die Another Day. Which brings me to today’s topic. I call it “Tube stations that don’t actually exist that appear in films and on TV and that.”
Vauxhall Cross is one I’ve been asked about more than once, with one person being quite adamant that there genuinely was such a station. It appears, as I say, in Die Another Day as part of Q’s research facility. Bond is given the invisible Aston Martin Vanquish, seen by many fans as a bit far-fetched (actually, the technology used to make the car invisible genuinely was under serious consideration by the US military at the time). Not sure quite what they meant about it being far-fetched, it’s not as if the series was noted for its gritty realism.
The film did not make use of a real station, nor was there ever a Vauxhall Cross station. Although Aldwych was used for research purposes, the actual station was a very convincing mock-up. There is a station at Vauxhall Cross, and it’s called Vauxhall.
The station appearing in the movie is apparently on the Piccadilly Line, approximately where the abandoned Down Street is. Down Street is just off Hyde Park and, as I mentioned a couple of entries ago, was a government base during the Second World War. However, it’s nowhere near Vauxhall. The idea, according to the Underground History website, was that a fictional branch line was built from Green Park. This makes some sense – the Victoria Line hadn’t been built when the Piccadilly Line appeared, so there was no Underground interchange at Vauxhall until the 1960s. None of this explains why Bond reaches the station via Westminster Bridge, though.
Presumably in the James Bond universe the Victoria Line wasn’t built. Sorry, Brixton.
Probably the best known fictional Underground station in London is Walford East, seen left. This is the station that serves Albert Square in long-running BBC soap Eastenders. The station is a very convincing mock-up, and thanks to the wonders of CGI, can now even boast trains.
The station is on the District Line. In the Eastenders universe, Bromley-by-Bow doesn’t exist. Of course, if you’re going to be pedantic, you could point out that the distinctive red-tiled Leslie Green frontage wouldn’t be seen on a purely District Line station. This kind of architecture was only seen on the lines owned by Charles Yerkes’ Underground Electric Railways Company (roughly speaking, the Bakerloo Line, the Piccadilly Line and the Charing Cross branch of the Northern Line). Fortunately, I’m not going to be pedantic, so you’ll just have to forget that last paragraph.
On the subject of the architecture, David Leboff notes that while this station doesn’t precisely match any real Leslie Green station, the designers are to be praised for both their imagination and authenticity in designing the Arts and Crafts-style frontage.
Yr. Humble Chronicler is not a regular viewer of Eastenders, but given the unrelenting horror that seems to be in constant progress throughout Walford, the sensible thing to do would be to abandon the station and shut the whole place off from the rest of the world. For the greater good.
Alistair McGowan once suggested that Walford East was not actually on the District Line, but was on its own “Eastenders Line.” This consisted of two stations – Walford East and Up West.
The last station on our quest is well known to fans of British sci-fi. It goes by two names – Hobb’s Lane and Hobb’s End. Hobb’s Lane was mentioned in the 1959 BBC science fiction serial Quatermass and the Pit, but never actually appeared. In this serial, construction workers uncover a Martian spaceship buried beneath the streets of Knightsbridge that begins to have strange and horrifying effects on the locals…
Presumably Hobb’s Lane was on the Piccadilly Line. For the movie version of the serial, made by the now-legendary Hammer Films, the Underground was more prominent. Indeed, the works that uncover the downed spaceship are in fact an extension of the Central Line into North Kensington.
Hobb’s Lane/End is often used in other works as a nod to the classic serials. The Tube station itself appears in the comics Caballistics Inc. and Scarlet Traces: The Great Game.
If you get the chance, the Quatermass serials are well worth catching. They were among the first science fiction shows on British television and are an obvious ancestor of Doctor Who – indeed, there’s even a popular fan theory that the two are set in the same universe, seemingly confirmed by a few minor lawyer-friendly references in Who.
So, just remember – this train will not be stopping at Walford East, Vauxhall Cross or Hobb’s End. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause to your journey.
http://underground-history.co.uk/vauxhallx.php – Underground History on Vauxhall Cross.
http://underground-history.co.uk/walford.php – Underground History on Walford East.