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I've often walked past the shuttered entrance to the Strand station (on the Strand) and been intrigued by what must be inside. I was walking past on 25 November and was surprised to see the doors were open and people actually inside. As I'm inquisitive (well a nosy parker really) I approached the men at the entrance and was told that the London Transport Museum
was opening the station to visitors over a couple of weekends this year. This tends to happen every year, but they couldn't guarantee that these would continue. After some persuasion, and after handing over £20, I was allowed inside and taken down to one of the platforms and joined a tour group.
Strand station was opened in 1907, but was never very busy as it was just a spur off the Piccadilly line, and one stop from Holborn.
During the First World War it was used as a storage depot for paintings from the National Gallery. Because of its deep tunnels it was also used as an air raid shelter.
After WWII began, Londoners took it into their own hands to seek shelter in the tunnels and finally the Home Secretary relented and gave permission. The station was also used to house artefacts from the Victoria and Albert and British Museums (including the Elgin Marbles). At the height of the Blitz up to 3,000 people sheltered every night. To cater for them there were bunks, chemical toilets, a first aid post, a canteen, a library, entertainments and Sunday evening religious services.
After the war London Transport used the second platform at Aldwych (as the station was renamed) as an experimental area for later station designs. Aldwych was closed for good in 1994, but is still used for film sets (including the James Bond 'The Quantum of Solace' and for training staff for the Underground's Emergency Response Unit.
Although the eastern platform has not seen a train since about 1914, it was strange to see advertising posters from the 1970s on the walls. Apparently London Transport experimented with different types of glue, that would later be used on stations that were still in use.
The station will be open again to the public next weekend (2, 3 and 4 December). Contact the London Transport Museum for further information. Also bear in mind that there are no longer any functioning lifts and that the platforms are 175 stairs below ground level, and another 175 back up again.
60649 - 2023-01-20 01:11:42