Tags

, , , , , , ,

2015_0628CharingCross01

Underground at Charing Cross, waiting to go through the barriers

The tube is one of my obsessions, and I’ve already toured the closed Aldwych/Strand station, so I was thrilled to have the chance to tour the disused Jubilee Line platforms of Charing Cross station. The tours, organised by the London Transport Museum and Hidden London, sold out almost as soon as they went on sale. We were told to meet by the barriers in Charing Cross underground station – this was unusually quiet for a Sunday, perhaps because the main line station was closed.

2015_0628CharingCross02

This walled-up entrance was once the way to the Jubilee line

We were issued with wristbands and taken through the barrier and down the escalator. Once we had reached the bottom, a door in the unassuming wall directly in front of us was opened and we were ushered through to find another escalator, this time switched off, so that we had to walk down it. At the bottom were the platforms, decorated with film posters left over from the Underground Film Club‘s recent residency.

2015_0628CharingCross03

Hidden London poster

The Jubilee line was first opened in 1979, two years after the Queen’s Silver Jubilee which lent its name to the line as well as the silver/grey colour of the line on the tube map. Known prior to its construction as the Fleet line, after the tributary of the Thames that also gave its name to Fleet Street, it took over what was formerly the Bakerloo line between Stanmore and Baker Street, continuing on to Charing Cross, a station with a chequered history, having originally been two separate stations that were united only when the Jubilee line platforms opened.

2015_0628CharingCross05

Poster showing the stations along the Jubilee line when it first opened

For twenty years the Jubilee line served Charing Cross, alongside the Bakerloo and Northern lines. However, in 1999 the Jubilee line was extended: the line was rerouted from Green Park to Westminster, carrying on south of the river to the Docklands area and the O2 (then the Millennium Dome), curving back up and terminating at Stratford. The Green Park-Charing Cross section of the line has been closed to regular tube trains ever since, though it is still used as a sidings and in certain circumstances trains can be sent down here to help avoid congestion – one of my friends was once on a train that was temporarily rerouted down here, and when she told me about it I was VERY jealous.

2015_0628CharingCross06

One of the platforms

Our knowledgeable and informative volunteer guides told us all about the station, its history, and how it is used today. It is often used for testing new features.

2015_0628CharingCross08

The yellow wall signifies that there is an exit on the opposite side

2015_0628CharingCross10

For the first time in this station, the name of the station was positioned lower on the wall so it could be read from the train

2015_0628CharingCross07

In case of emergency, shining a light on these yellow panels makes them glow green, so that they stand out in the darkness

The station is sometimes used for storage.

2015_0628CharingCross09

You wouldn’t get this in a normal station – it is used for moving things off and on trains

The station has a distinctive look that you can recognise if you see it on screen – so long as you know what to look for.

2015_0628CharingCross11

The open ceiling signifies air vents.

2015_0628CharingCross12

2015_0628CharingCross13

We were shown a series of short film clips featuring Skyfall (2011/12), Paddington (2013) and the TV show 24 (2014), filmed on these platforms. As I had learned at Aldwych station, historical TV programmes and films tend to be filmed in that station, whereas more modern shows tend to be shot here at Charing Cross.

2015_0628CharingCross14

This is the escalator that Bond slid down in Skyfall: thankfully with the spikes at the bottom removed!

After we had explored the platforms we were divided into two groups and taken to see more hidden parts of the station.

2015_0628CharingCross15

2015_0628CharingCross16

In the film Creep (2004) a creature comes out of this very hole.

My group visited a construction tunnel first – entering via the door that Daniel Craig pops out of in Skyfall, blending in seamlessly with the hordes of commuters.

2015_0628CharingCross18

2015_0628CharingCross19

It was dark and rather disgusting in the tunnel – but still incredibly exciting

When the Jubilee line was first being built, constructors couldn’t dig directly beneath Charing Cross station, as this would have been too disruptive for traffic. Instead, they sunk a hole next to the National Gallery – where the Sainsbury Wing is located now – and tunnelled along from there.

2015_0628CharingCross20

We were walking under Trafalgar Square at this point

An older part of the tunnel is now entirely blocked up, in a location directly beneath the Fourth Plinth.

2015_0628CharingCross21

The tunnellers used the same methods as the original Underground workers did back in the nineteenth century.

2015_0628CharingCross22

Posters comparing the construction of Underground tunnels, almost a century apart

Once out of the tunnel, we changed places with the other group, causing passing tube-travellers to look somewhat bemused as we emerged from one door in the wall only to enter another one shortly afterwards.

We had to don hard hats for this part of the journey.

2015_0628CharingCross24

This is the cooling system for parts of Charing Cross station. I had no idea, waiting for a train, that there was all this space above my head.

2015_0628CharingCross28

From here we could LOOK DIRECTLY ONTO THE PLATFORM AND THE TRAINS.

2015_0628CharingCross25

Train is gone…

2015_0628CharingCross27

Train has arrived

I had hoped that somebody on the platform would look up and get a shock, but sadly it was not to be. However, the guy in front of me later managed to frighten a tourist by waving to her from the passage.

2015_0628CharingCross29

We went off down the passage in the other direction to see where the cooling system begins. It’s possible to see it from outside the station, if you know where to look. It was raining outside and we could feel the rain on our faces.

2015_0628CharingCross31

2015_0628CharingCross33

2015_0628CharingCross34

That was the end of the tour. We were taken back to the top of the escalators to make our own way home.

I had an AMAZING time and would definitely recommend the tour to anyone who might be interested. It is sold out at the moment but there may be more tours announced in the future, so I’d recommend signing up to the London Transport Museum’s mailing list to be the first to find out about any future dates. The guides hinted that there would be more exciting tours to look forward to – I’m hoping for Down Street but I’ll have to wait and see!

Advertisements