Aldwych station was open in 1907, and part of the Piccadilly underground line. With being so close to many West End theaters, it gained the unofficial title of the Theater Line. Aldwych station itself was built on the site of an old London theater – the Royal Strand.
During the Second World War the line was closed and the tunnels used as an air raid shelter and to store various national treasures from the British Museum, including the Elgin Marbles. On 30th September 1994 the line was closed because the cost of refurbishing the lifts at the station could not be justified. However, the line lives on and is used by TV and film companies as a working set of an underground station. At street level much of the original station can now be seen. Although it only closed in 1994, it still holds a special fascination for most people as it is still visible above ground, even when it was open it was hardly ever used so even during the heaviest use of tube travelers were unlikely to have passed through this station.
It is also one of those stations that has a dual hidden history, as even when open, only one of two platforms was in use – so you have one old platform, and one even older one. It’s the older one where numerous people have claimed to have seen the ghost who haunts Aldwych station on the tracks at night, and mainly by staff who clean the tunnels and stations. The ghost is believed to be an actress who believes she has not enjoyed her last curtain call. Aldwych used to be on the site of the old Royal Strand Theater.
For those visiting the station, or taking the tour, be aware that there is an explicit ban using DSLR cameras inside the Tube, and it is strictly upheld even here. People have reported having their cameras confiscated when spotted using it in the ticket hall. Although many people still use there mobiles to take photographs, some even get moderately decent photos without flash, as camera phones are also allowed, but no picture taking. The ban on the DSLR exists, because to the new anti-terrorist laws and it’s still part of the London Underground, not the museum – and the authorities are VERY strict about it.
The real treat of a tour though, is a chance to go through a metal door from the newer tunnel, into the much dirtier environment of the older platform that was closed in September of 1917. Now used to test new ideas for other stations, a lot of the walls show signs of experiments with different tiling designs. The tracks into the older platform also lacks the “anti-suicide” pit that was retrofitted to other stations as it closed to the public before the anti-suicide bar rails were thought to be necessary.
Although the older platform looks much more derelict in atmospheric appearance, not to mention otherworldly, it was much more evident as one walks through the bottom of the lift shafts down corridors and up old derelict stairwells to exit the tube. Especially noting the old Roman tile bath work of the tiles for the period in which it was build…definitely a historic time-capsule frozen in the past.
The Underground Ghosts of London’s Aldwych Station
However, a 15 strong camera crew from the BBC’s Most Haunted spent 24 hours inside Aldwych station in 2oo2. Derek Achorah managed to contact a ghost called Margaret, who could be the actress sighted many times before. During the investigation the crew walked through the tunnels in complete darkness. Yvette Fielding thought she saw someone or something in the tunnel. Meanwhile, over another platform, a motion detector was set off, yet nobody was near enough to trigger it.
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