About a year ago, I did two things in quick succession – I went to London (after not visiting England since I left at the age of 4, some 23 years ago), and then pretty quickly afterwards I read Neverwhere, a Neil Gaiman novel set in a fictionalised London Underground, using some of the shut down stations for its inspiration (among other things).
Ever since then, I’ve been really fascinated by the whole concept of all these shut down stations, and am slowly learning just how many have been shut down, for what reasons, and what has become of them. Earlier today I discovered some articles on the extremely interesting londonist.com that looked into this very topic, and found this amazing picture:
Pretty impressive, huh?
Many of these old tube stations are now bricked off and difficult to access, looking perhaps a little like this inside:
I also found this page – http://londonist.com/2011/02/what-shall-we-do-with-the-old-tube-station.php – to be quite interesting, as it looks at a few different stations and what they have become since they closed down. I’d love to go to some of these places and visit them, see if it is easy to recognise the station architecture still.
My interest in what lies beneath London will only grow though, and one book that has caught my interest is Peter Ackroyd’s London Under. This book looks at not just the tube stations but all the history lying underneath the great city, from Roman amphitheatres to Victorian sewers, Bronze Age trackways, the monastery of Whitefriars and so much more. I haven’t yet got my hands on this one, but when I do I suspect I’ll gobble it up in a single sitting.
It’s really no wonder that so many stories can and do come from the London Underground, with so much history there. When I think of how many other cities around the world must have their own stories to tell…it makes me yearn to put on both my historian and writer caps, and start seeing these things with my own eyes!
What stories do you know of the London Underground? What about any cities where you live – do they have their own hidden pasts?