Category Archives: Under London

Hidden London – Moorgate

Moorgate Station has a complex mix of different transport lines. The Northern, Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City underground lines and Great Northern National Rail line.

The station both above and below ground has also had a complex history, as lines were built and extended, use of lines changed, intended extensions came to nothing, and the surface station disappeared under a wave of post-war building.

Change is continuing as Moorgate Station will be at the western end of the Liverpool Street Station on the Elizabeth Line.

The London Transport Museum included Moorgate as a new tour in their Hidden London series of station tours and back in February on a chilly Saturday afternoon, I arrived at Moorgate looking forward to walking through the hidden tunnels of another London underground station.

The following photo shows one of the entrances to Moorgate Station (the brick building to the right) along with the construction area for Crossrail / Elizabeth Line to the left.

Moorgate

Moorgate started life as a surface station when the Metropolitan Line was extended east in 1865. The station’s appearance was much like any other surface station with open tracks and platforms, and the following Ordnance Survey extract from 1894 shows the station in the centre of the map with lines leading off to the north-west.

Moorgate

Credit: ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’ 

The area was heavily bombed during the last war and Moorgate Station did not escape. The following photo from 1949 shows Moorgate Station at the bottom centre of the map with the rail tracks running north through the space now occupied by the Barbican development.

Moorgate

1940 view of a badly damaged station and burnt out train at Moorgate.

Moorgate

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: M0019308CL

The above view is looking to the east, the burnt out buildings face onto Moorgate, and behind them you can see the domed top of 84 Moorgate, or Electra House, that I used as a landmark to locate the position of one of my father’s photos in my post on London Wall a couple of weeks ago.

Post-war rebuilding of the area around London Wall, the Barbican and Golden Lane Estates led to the re-route of part of the above ground rail tracks into Moorgate, and the station disappearing below a series of office blocks.

Part of the old above ground Moorgate platforms as they appear today.

Moorgate

The deep level underground arrived at Moorgate Station in 1900 in the form of the City & South London Railway extension from Borough to Moorgate. This route would be later extended onto Old Street, Angel, King’s Cross and become the eastern leg of the Northern Line, meeting the western leg at Kennington in the south and Camden Town in the north.

When the original City & South London station was built, lifts were used rather than escalators, so underneath Moorgate today are old lift shafts and access tunnels to these lift shafts, and it was some of these that formed part of the tour.

Moorgate

One thing that fascinates me in these tours of disused stations and tunnels is how they can be read very much like an archaeological excavation, although rather than horizontal layers of history, in these tunnels layers are multi-dimensional as new walls are added, utilities installed, old signs and adverts part covered, graffiti added etc.

Moorgate

No Smoking and Way Out To The Lifts (although the final word is now lost):

Moorgate

When the City & South London Railway arrived at Moorgate in 1900, the moving staircase, or escalator was still 11 years away (first introduced at Earl’s Court station in 1911) so deep level stations were dependent on lifts to transport passengers between ticket halls and platforms.

Escalators have now replaced lifts across the majority of London Underground stations, so on the early deeper level routes there are redundant lift shafts to be found, including at Moorgate, where the following photo (with a bit of camera shake due to a slightly long exposure) shows the view up to the top of one of the redundant shafts.

Moorgate

Many of these disused tunnels are now used for storage.

Moorgate

Although you could argue that once you have seen one disused underground tunnel, you have seen the lot, it is the commentary by the Hidden London guides that make these tours so interesting, with their in-depth knowledge of the development of the station, and London’s transport network. However, there is one unique feature at Moorgate which is not found at any of the other station tours.

The Great Northern & City Railway was a line originally from Finsbury Park to Moorgate, built with the intention of allowing trains of the Great Northern Railway to run on from Finsbury Park into the City. The tunnels for these trains were larger, at 16 feet diameter to allow Great Northern trains to run into the City.

Whilst the line from Moorgate to Finsbury Park was under construction in 1901, a bill was put before Parliament to allow the extension of the line further into the City with a terminus at Lothbury rather than Moorgate.

The plan being for a sub-surface station on the corner of Lothbury, Gresham Street, Moorgate and Princes Street, just north of the Bank station.

The line from Finsbury Park to Moorgate opened in 1904, but despite having Parliamentary approval, the extension to Lothbury was stopped soon after commencement of work, and despite a couple of attempts to continue, lack of funding resulted in the project stalling, and the Greathead Tunneling Shield used for the extension being left in place at the end of a short stub of tunnel, a long way short of Lothbury.

The Greathead Tunneling Shield is the unique feature of Moorgate:

Moorgate

The Greathead Tunneling Shield was the invention of James Henry Greathead, who developed Brunel’s shield design, from rectangular, with individual moveable frames, to a single, circular shield. Screw jacks around the perimeter of the shield allowed the shield to be moved forward as the tunnel was excavated in front of the shield, with cast iron tunnel segments installed around the excavated tunnel immediately behind the shield.

Greathead’s first use of his shield was on the Tower Subway.

He died in 1896, before the Lothbury extension at Moorgate, however his shield design was so successful that it became the standard design for shields used to excavate much of the deep level underground system.

The Illustrated London News in 1896 recorded the following about Greathead:

“Hamlet thought that a man must build churches if he would have his memory outlive his lifetime, but Mr James Henry Greathead, the well-known engineer, who died on Oct. 21, has left a name which seems likely to survive him for some time by the less picturesque work of making subterranean tunnels.

He developed to its highest pitch the system of tunneling which had been introduced by Brunel, who constructed the tunnel under the Thames at Wapping by means of a shield. Mr Greathead improved this shield and drove it forward by hydraulic rams, while he made such subaqueous work easier by the use of compressed air. The greatest feat in subaqueous boring that has ever been undertaken is the new tunnel under the Thames at Blackwall. It is a curious fact that the great engineer just lived to see the Blackwall tunnel brought to a successful completion and then died.

One of his best known projects was the City and South London Railway, which has been successfully at work for five years; and the new Central London Railway and the similar enterprise on the Surrey side now in progress owe much to the ingenuity of his innovations.”

James Henry Greathead:

Moorgate

The Illustrated London News wrote in that 1896 article that his name seemed likely to survive for some time, but I wonder if they would have expected this to be into the 21st century, and a shield of Greathead’s design still being visible in the tunnels under Moorgate.

Moorgate

The tour takes in many of the tunnels of the original station when the lifts were in operation, these tunnels, other side tunnels, changes in level, all contribute to the sense of a maze of tunnels under the streets of Moorgate.

Moorgate

Old advertising on tunnel walls:

Moorgate

Dark tunnel walls and ventilation pipes:

Moorgate

The tour concludes with a view of the next stage of Moorgate’s development, with the entrance from Moorgate Station to what will be the Liverpool Street Station on the Elizabeth Line.

Moorgate

Moorgate has been in continuous development since the very first station in 1865. Connectivity has grown over the years, the surface station disappeared below the post-war development of the area.

The station was the location of the worst peacetime accident on the London Underground, when on the 28th February 1975, 43 people were killed when a train failed to stop and hit the wall at the end of the tunnel at a speed of 35 miles per hour.

In 2009 as part of the Thameslink project some of the widened lines and platforms into Moorgate were closed and are planned to become sidings for the Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City and Circle Lines by the end of the year.

The Elizabeth Line will connect Moorgate with Liverpool Street Station via a 238 metre long shared platform, running 34 metres below the surface.

Hidden London Tours are currently on hold, but when resumed, the tour of Moorgate provides a wonderful opportunity to learn about this complex station, and the chance to see one of the engineering innovations that helped build London’s underground transport network.

alondoninheritance.com

Hidden London – Piccadilly Circus

I had intended to publish a different post, however work and other commitments have slowed down research, so for today, a brief post on one of the design and construction wonders of London. For a number of years, the London Transport Museum under their Hidden London brand have run a fascinating series of tours of those parts of the underground network that you do not usually see.

Last year, a new station was added to the list of tours – Piccadilly Circus – and as usual, it is fascinating to get a glimpse of some of the infrastructure and tunnels hidden behind the tunnels now in general use. These tunnels show how stations have developed over time, and this was the focus of the Piccadilly Circus tour, not a long tour in terms of the area covered, but a tour packed full of information.

Leaving the public areas of Piccadilly Circus, and a new set of tunnels appear, dating from the first incarnation of the station:

Piccadilly Circus

The original Piccadilly Circus station opened in 1906, however due to the station’s central West End location, the volume of people using the station grew rapidly. In 1907, 1.5 million passengers were using the station annually, and by 1922 this had risen to 18 million, and passenger numbers were expected to continue growing.

Piccadilly Circus

The original station was too small, and making small changes to the station would not support the growing numbers of people using the station. Lifts were a distance from the platforms and lifts really needed to be replaced by escalators, larger entrances were required along with a larger ticket hall.

There was considerable development in the area, including the redevelopment of many of the buildings along Regent Street where existing buildings would be replaced by six storey buildings. The need for a larger station was urgent.

The original plan was for a new domed ticket hall below Eros / the Shaftesbury Memorial, however the final scheme went for a new flat roofed ticket hall surrounded by an oval shaped passage which provided access to the stairs leading up to the street entrances. The station would broadly follow the dimensions of Piccadilly Circus above ground.

New banks of escalators would be installed between the ticket hall and an intermediate landing, with further escalators leading down to the Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines. It would be a major engineering and construction project.

Piccadilly Circus

To facilitate the work, the statue of Eros and the Shaftesbury Memorial were moved to the Victoria Embankment Gardens, and a construction shaft was sunk.

One of the major problems with such a large construction site in the centre of the West End was the amount of services that were buried below the surface, in the way of the new station. These had to be diverted away from the site, or transferred into a 12ft diameter pipe that had been installed around the circumference of the new station.

Piccadilly Circus

The new station was opened on the 10th December 1928, by the Mayor of Westminster, with the first public users of the station being given access later that afternoon.

The original station was closed on the 21st July 1929 and Eros / the Shaftesbury Memorial was returned to sit above the new station, on the 27th December 1931.

The considerably enlarged ticket hall and the new Otis escalators provided a Piccadilly Circus station that was ready to support the numbers of passengers using the station as London entered the 1930s, and for many years to come.

Piccadilly Circus

Escalators had replaced the original lifts, however walking the tunnels today, we can still see the direction signs and the original lift shafts.

Piccadilly Circus

Looking up one of the original lift shafts:

Piccadilly Circus

To the trains signs still point to where early 20th century passengers would have walked to get down to the platforms.

Piccadilly Circus

In a disused underground tunnel it is always intriguing to wonder just what is after that curve in the tunnel:

Piccadilly Circus

Although the new tunnels and escalators provide access from the ticket hall down to the platforms, the old tunnels still provide a very useful purpose. In an environment where space is at a premium, having areas available to store equipment is valuable.

Piccadilly Circus

The tunnels explored in the tour provide a reminder of how London’s underground system has grown, and the major construction works needed to continually support the growth in passenger numbers.

The tunnels are a step back to the original Edwardian Station, but perhaps the best place to admire Piccadilly Circus station is in the passageway surrounding the ticket hall. Piccadilly Circus was seen as the “hub of Emprire”, and as such needed a design, and quality building and decorative materials to match.

Charles Holden was responsible for the design of the station, and his distinctive style can be seen across the station. The passageway surrounding the ticket hall and the central concourse are clad in cream travertine marble. Decorative pillars and lights are roughly equally spaced around the oval passageway. Their relatively narrow form ensures maximum space is available for passengers walking between surface and the escalators through the ticket hall.

Piccadilly Circus

The ticket hall was restored in 1989, and in 2016, on the 75th anniversary of his death, a commemoration of Frank Pick was installed. Frank Pick was the Managing Director of London Underground in the 1920s, and was responsible for commissioning architects and designers such as Charles Holden.

Piccadilly Circus

The design of the memorial by Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell used words from one of Frank Pick’s lectures which highlighted his approach to design, and that good design contributes significantly to the quality of life in the city.

A very unusual feature in Piccadilly Circus station that dates back to the reconstruction of the station is a world map. The central dark band scrolls across the map to show the local time in the different time zones across the world. The location of the map here in Piccadilly Circus emphasised the view of the station at the time as the “hub of Empire”.

Piccadilly Circus

Too often we rush through London’s underground stations, trying to get as quickly as possible between the train and the street, and not taking the time to appreciate the design, engineering and construction wonders that we pass through.

The Hidden London tours provide the perfect opportunity to step back, explore the old tunnels and appreciate the effort that has gone into building a transport system we probably take too much for granted.

alondoninheritance.com

A Forty Year Return Visit To A Secret Nuclear Bunker

A rather somber post this week, following a return to a location I was last at forty years ago. In the late 1970s, after leaving school, I started an apprenticeship with British Telecom (or Post Office Telecommunications as it was then). It was a brilliant three year scheme which involved both college and practical experience moving through many of BT’s divisions and locations. For a couple of months I was based at the telephone exchange at Brentwood, Essex. A typical day would involve maintenance and fault fixing on the telephone exchange equipment, however at the start of a day that would be rather different, the Technical Officer in charge was giving out jobs, and one job involved fixing a fault at a rather unique location – a secret nuclear bunker.

I had just left school, so at the time this was a genuinely exciting experience as I headed out in one of BT’s yellow vans with a couple of other engineers.

I have always wanted to revisit the site and was in the area recently so I took the opportunity to return to what is now a tourist attraction as the Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker.

The decades prior to the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the Soviet Union, and the very real threat of nuclear war now seem many years ago, however with recent international politics a visit to the secret nuclear bunker is a thought provoking and very real reminder of what the impact of such a war would be, and the futility of preparing for such an event.

The origins of the bunker are in the early 1950s when the Government realised there was an urgent need for an improved air defence system to provide an early warning system to detect incoming enemy aircraft. The scheme, code named Rotor consisted of a number of radar systems and bunkers built across the country. Small R1/2 bunkers were built at radar sites whilst a small number of much larger R4 bunkers were built, the bunker at Kelvedon Hatch being one.

The bunker was operational by 1953 and being used for coordinating air defence.

In the 1960s the role of the bunker changed from being an air defence operations centre, to an emergency regional seat of government for London. The assumption being that in the build up to a nuclear war, key members of government would leave London and head for the bunker, along with scientists and civil servants. Those safe in the bunker would monitor and attempt to coordinate what was happening on the surface, then weeks after the nuclear confrontation, would emerge from out of the ground and attempt to establish some form of government across what ever remained on the surface.

This was the role of the bunker during my visit to look at a fault on the telephone exchange deep underground.

By definition, a secret nuclear bunker is secret, so there is very little visible on the surface. The entrance to the bunker is through what was meant to look like a typical rural bungalow or farm building sitting on the side of the hill. This is the view on my recent visit – very similar to my first visit when we pulled up outside in the BT van.

secret nuclear bunker

To give an idea of the rural location of the bunker, it is marked with an orange circle in the following map. The M25 runs from lower centre to top left and the town in the lower right is Brentwood  (Map  “© OpenStreetMap contributors”).

secret nuclear bunker

The bunker was constructed by excavating a very large hole, laying a gravel base to act as a shock absorber then building the bunker with 10 foot thick concrete reinforced walls designed to withstand the blast from a nuclear weapon, with the walls surrounded by a wire mesh acting as a Faraday Cage to absorb the effects of an electromagnetic pulse which would have damaged the electronic devices within the bunker.

The excavated materials were then used to cover up the bunker and create a hill on top to provide further protection. The bunker was equipped with its own means of generating power, purifying air, maintaining temperature and had suppliers of water, and in the lead up to a war, would have been stocked with food to keep the inhabitants sustained during their weeks underground.

A plan of the bunker is shown in the following photo:

When operational, the bungalow acted as a guard house and it was through here that we entered to be checked and signed in ready to visit the telephone exchange. Today, there are no armed guard at the entrance. All you have to do is pick up the audio tour device.

The bunker is then entered through a long entrance tunnel that leads from the bungalow down to the base of the bunker. The view looking down:

secret nuclear bunker

The view looking back up:

secret nuclear bunker

At the end of the entrance tunnel are blast doors leading into the bunker. The entrance to the body of the bunker is also an L shape to deflect any blast that breached the doors.

secret nuclear bunker

Looking up at the three levels of the bunker:

secret nuclear bunker

The Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker was decommissioned in the early 1990s. It was removed from the secret list, and the Government removed the majority of the equipment within the bunker. It was then sold back to the farming family from whom the land had originally been purchased, and they reequipped the bunker and opened for visitors.

This is the room I had come to see. The telephone exchange for the bunker that would connect the internal telephones with the outside world (on the assumption that there would still have been someone in the outside world able to answer a phone and that the infrastructure had not been destroyed).

secret nuclear bunker

The telephone exchange equipment is not original. It was a Strowger electro-mechanical exchange, before being replaced with an electronic exchange. A Strowger electro-mechanical exchange has been reinstalled – the same type of equipment that was in the bunker when I was there as an apprentice. If my memory of 40 years is right, it does look much the same as when I was there in the late 1970s.

I recall a few people around and some calls going through the exchange, but it was very quiet compared to what it would have been during a real event when up to 600 people would have been working in the bunker. The exchange room was the only one we went to – it was not the sort of place you could have wandered round for a look. When we had completed our work, it was back up the tunnel and out into daylight.

Many of the other rooms have been equipped to show what they would have looked like at the time. Here, teleprinters ready for sending and receiving printed information with the outside world.

secret nuclear bunker

The secret nuclear bunker was equipped with a BBC studio. From here, broadcasts would have been made to the general population above ground.

secret nuclear bunker

A few years ago, the BBC released the transcript of the announcement that would have been broadcast in the event of a nuclear war. The transcript starts:

“This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you further information as soon as possible. Meanwhile, stay tuned to this wavelength, stay calm and stay in your own homes.

Remember there is nothing to be gained by trying to get away. By leaving your homes you could be exposing yourselves to greater danger.

If you leave, you may find yourself without food, without water, without accommodation and
without protection. Radioactive fall-out, which follows a nuclear explosion, is many
times more dangerous if you are directly exposed to it in the open. Roofs and
walls offer substantial protection. The safest place is indoors.”

The full transcript is a rather sobering read and can be found as a PDF on the BBC’s website here.

In the late 1970s there was also considerable discussion in Government about how much preparation there should be, and how much the public should be informed about preparing for an attack. Tensions were heightened in 1979 with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

As part of the planning to prepare the general population for an attack, the Protect and Survive booklet was written. This would have been distributed to all households across the country in a period of heightened tensions when a nuclear attack was seen as a possible outcome.

The booklet included advice on how to prepare for an attack and how to survive in the days after an attack.

The front cover of the booklet:

secret nuclear bunker

The front cover is from the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars and the full booklet is available as a PDF download at the URL in the following citation for the source:

Document-110193,   Author = Great Britain. Central Office of Information and Great Britain. Home Office,  Title  = Protect and Survive, URL  =  http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/110193

Institution = Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars publisher   = History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive

A film version of the booklet was also produced for broadcast on TV during the possible lead up to an attack. There is a copy on YouTube here.

The early 1980s also produced some landmark TV and films covering the impact of nuclear war. In September 1984, the BBC produced film Threads was shown on BBC2. A genuinely frightening portrayal of the impact of nuclear war on the city of Sheffield. A sample of the film can be found on YouTube here. I remember it as one of the most frightening programmes I have ever watched then or since on television.

Another example was the 1986 animated film of Raymond Briggs graphic novel, When the Wind Blows.

My just out of school, apprentice excitement at going to such a place as the secret nuclear bunker was most certainly taken back down to earth with the reality of what such a war would mean as depicted in the films mentioned above, as well as so many other books, films, and programmes of the time.

Continuing around the bunker, there is a re-creation of what the room may have looked like where plots would have been drawn on large maps showing where bomb blasts had taken place.

secret nuclear bunker

The position of the Kelvedon Hatch secret nuclear bunker as the regional headquarters for the Greater London area is shown in the following photo:

Continuing further down in the bunker and the air filtration plant. This would have taken in air from the outside and filtered to remove dust and radioactive particles.

secret nuclear bunker

The machine room where equipment maintained the air conditioning of the bunker.

secret nuclear bunker

There are a couple of rooms within the bunker where senior Government officials would have had their own room. One of which was available for the Prime Minister should they have been able to get out of London and into Essex in time.

secret nuclear bunker

The main operations room where representatives of Government departments, the armed forces, transport, energy etc. would have been represented.

secret nuclear bunker

Apparently some of the few items not removed by the Government when they vacated the bunker are the signs around the operations room indicating the working space for each of the Government departments.

secret nuclear bunker

The bunker also contained facilities to accommodate the staff who would have been based here during an attack.

secret nuclear bunker

Up to 600 people would have been based in the bunker in the event of a nuclear war. Whether they would have had any contact with the outside world during their time underground is questionable, and one can only imagine the scene that would have met them when they emerged onto the surface after weeks in the bunker.

It was interesting to return after 40 years. The world is now a very different place, but having places such as the Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker available to visit are essential to provide a reminder of the real horrors of nuclear war.

Full details are on the web site of the bunker. Thanks to the owners of the bunker for letting me use my photos of the interior.

alondoninheritance.com

St. Chad’s Place And A Lost Well

There are places in London where the subterranean history of the city touches the surface and it is easy to imagine finding long lost geological features beneath the city streets.

This post is about one such place that I found whilst hunting for the location of this photo that my father took in 1986:

St. Chad's Place

My 2018 photo of the same location:

St. Chad's Place

I am in King’s Cross Road, a street that runs from Pentonville Road to Farringdon Road. The building was the location of Dodds the Printers in 1986 who occupied numbers 193 and 195.

I am not sure when the business closed in King’s Cross Road, however I believe it was relatively recently. The shop front has changed and the lovely signage above the shop has disappeared, however the terrace of 19th century buildings are much the same.

On the right side of both photos is an alley disappearing through the buildings. This is St. Chad’s Place. The following extract from OpenStreetMap shows the location. St. Chad’s Place can be seen running left to right in the middle of the map – suitable for vehicles to just after crossing the rail lines where it turns into a pedestrian alley, with a sharp bend and a narrow stretch running up to King’s Cross Road.

St. Chad's Place

This is the type of view I love – a small alley to explore:

St. Chad's Place

Walking into St. Chad’s Place from King’s Cross Road, you first pass through the terrace lining King’s Cross Road before continuing down a narrow stretch between high brick walls.

Looking back towards King’s Cross Road:

St. Chad's Place

At the end of the narrow stretch, the alley does a 90 degree bend and opens out slightly:

St. Chad's Place

This is the view back down the alley with the buildings lining King’s Cross Road in the distance:

St. Chad's Place

The alley passes a number of old brick, industrial buildings, gently rising in height. Half way along the alley there are high metal walls. This is where St. Chad’s Place passes over a railway.

St. Chad's Place

It is just possible to peer over the top of the metal walls and look at the railway beneath. This is the original Metropolitan Railway, built between 1859 and 1862, which ran from Paddington to Farringdon.

The railway was built below street level, using a mix of cut and cover, as well as leaving the railway in an open cutting, as in the stretch that passes underneath St. Chad’s Place.

The route today is used by Thameslink trains and the London Underground Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith and City lines. In the following photo, looking south towards Farringdon is a Thameslink train, with the red of an underground train just visible to the upper right.

St. Chad's Place

The railway cuts a wide path between King’s Cross and Farringdon, but for the most part is not that visible. Walking along King’s Cross Road or Gray’s Inn Road, you would not know there is a railway running close by, it is only when you walk through the streets between these major roads that you pass over, and get a view of the cutting through this part of the city.

This is the view looking north from St. Chad’s Place where the railway runs into King’s Cross, St. Pancras underground station:

St. Chad's Place

The building of the railway must have been very disruptive to the area. Streets were cut off and before construction of the railway could start, demolition of hundreds of houses, factories, warehouses and workshops was required.

The following print shows the building of the railway near King’s Cross:

St. Chad's Place

Walking up towards Gray’s Inn Road, this is the view back down St. Chad’s Place. A narrow, cobbled roadway in the centre, sloping down to where the blue metal wall of the railway can be seen on the right.

St. Chad's Place

The black sign on the left is for Meat Liquor bar and restaurant, probably the main reason for anyone to walk down St. Chad’s Place. Apart from the person sitting outside the restaurant, I did not see anyone else walk through for the whole time I was in St. Chad’s Place.

At the top is the junction with Gray’s Inn Road.

St. Chad's Place

A walk through St. Chad’s Place is a glimpse of the many old alleys that once ran between major streets (I will be writing about one that is in the process of disappearing in a future post), and the view of the railway provides an insight into what is just below London’s surface, however, as usual, there is always more to discover.

Starting with the name, St. Chad’s Place, this is an indication of what was once here.

The route of the River Fleet was once alongside where King’s Cross Road now runs, and the geology of the area gave rise to a number of springs at Bagnigge Wells, Clerks’ Well (Clerkenwell), and a St. Chad’s Well. All running close to the River Fleet.

St. Chad’s Well was to be found at the junction of St. Chad’s Place and Gray’s Inn Road.

The well was very popular in the middle of the 18th century, with around 1,000 visitors a week travelling along Gray’s Inn Road to take the waters.

The following advert from the 29th May 1807 edition of the Morning Advertiser gives an impression of how St. Chad’s Well was sold to Londoners:

“St. Chad’s Wells – Health restored and preserved, by drinking the Battle-Bridge Waters, commonly called St. Chad’s Wells, formerly dedicated to St. Chad, first Bishop of Lichfield. These Waters are recommended by the most eminent Physicians as the best Purging Waters in England, they are found highly efficacious in removing all Complaints which affect the Urinary Passages such as Stone, Gravel, etc, They likewise cure the Scurvy, Bile, Worms, Piles, Indigestion, Nervous Complaints, Seminal Weaknesses, and various other Disorders too numerous for an advertisement. Several attestations of their wonderful Effects may be seen in the Pump room.

N.B. These Waters may be drank every morning, at 4d each Person, or delivered at the Pump-Room at 8d per gallon. The Gate leading to the Wells opens at the end of Gray’s Inn-lane Road, near the Turnpike.”

The name Battle-Bridge Waters refers to the Battle Bridge, a brick arched bridge over the River Fleet just north of St. Chad’s Place. The name Battle Bridge is often taken to refer to a battle fought here between Boadicea and the Roman army, however this is very unlikely as the name in medieval manorial court rolls was Bradeford Bridge.

Chad refers to a 7th century Mercian churchman who founded the first monastery in Lichfield. St. Chad allegedly preached at Stowe, just outside the centre of Lichfield , and a medieval St. Chad’s Church was built at Stowe along with a holy well with St. Chad’s name. This association with a well could be why the well in Gray’s Inn Road took St. Chad’s name – a more virtuous, health promoting name than Battle Bridge.

The following print from 1850 show the St. Chad’s Well pump house, built close to Gray’s Inn Road. At the rear of the house, gardens stretched back towards King’s Cross Road.

St. Chad's Place

By the time of the above print, the well was declining in popularity. I cannot find exactly when St. Chad’s Well closed, however St. Chad’s Place was built over part of the garden in 1830 and the majority of the gardens were lost in 1860 when the Metropolitan Line was built. I suspect it was the building of the railway which finally swept away the well.

Now this is where this post starts to get very speculative.

I am sure though of the route of the River Fleet. I have checked a number of sources, including the book “The Lost Rivers of London” by Nicholas Barton and Stephen Myers (a well researched and illustrated history of London’s lost rivers and their routes through the city) as well as “The History of the River Fleet” by the UCL River Fleet Restoration Team, and they all show the River Fleet running along the western edge of King’s Cross Road, under where St. Chad’s Place meets King’s Cross Road.

The River Fleet is also shown on the OpenStreetMap extract, running parallel to King’s Cross Road.

St. Chad’s Place descends very gradually as you head from Gray’s Inn Road towards King’s Cross Road, which could be expected for a spring rising near Gray’s Inn Road running through the gardens of the pump-room and down to the River Fleet.

As I walked along St. Chad’s Place, the sunlight glinting off running water below a small grating in the middle of the cobbled street caught my eye.

It was hard to judge the depth, but it must have been around 10 to 15 feet below the road surface. It looked to be a fast flow of clean water, and yes I did take a sniff and it did not smell like a sewer.

St. Chad's Place

I have no evidence to support this, apart from the view through the grating, however it is interesting to imagine that perhaps the waters of the St. Chad’s Well still rise here, and run along St. Chad’s Place, heading towards the River Fleet.

They would now be cut off by the cutting made for the Metropolitan Railway, however perhaps there is a pipe that carries them across, or a separate sewer that runs along the western edge of the railway.

Walking back towards King’s Cross Road, and where St. Chad’s Place passes through the building facing King’s Cross Street, there is a run of old paving slabs, and an old manhole cover.

St. Chad's Place

This is exactly where the River Fleet is shown to run parallel to Kings Cross Road.

If you walk past 193 and 195 King’s Cross Road, take a detour into St. Chad’s Place. Walk up to Gray’s Inn Road and you will cross the River Fleet, the original Metropolitan Railway and the site of St. Chad’s Well – not bad for a couple of minutes walk.

And with some imagination, perhaps you will also see the waters of St. Chad’s Well still running beneath a small, four hole grating.

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The Tiles At Bethnal Green Underground Station

Writing this blog has taught me to be far more observant of my surroundings than I have been in the past. I have no idea how many times I have walked along the Central Line platforms at Bethnal Green underground station, but in all those times I cannot say that the random tiles placed along the platform walls have resulted in a second glance, or the realisation that there is a design purpose behind these tiles.

I was visiting Bethnal Green again a couple of weeks ago and spent some time walking up and down both platforms, looking for the different tiles and taking photos. I have also tried to find the inspiration for the tiles and have been successful in a number of instances, but have yet to trace the origin for all of the tiles.

So, to start on the platform at Bethnal Green:

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

The tiles appear to represent London landmarks and associations with the counties served by the London Underground.

The first tile is a rather good representation of London Underground’s head office at 55 Broadway.

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

London Transport are in the process of moving out of 55 Broadway, so the tile will provide a historic record for the future of their original head office. My photo from a similar viewpoint when I visited the building shows how accurate the representation is on the tile:

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

Another London Transport association is this tile showing the London Transport roundel:

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

The Bethnal Green name is along the centre of the roundel in the photo below. To demonstrate the random distribution of the decorated tiles and how they blend into the rest of the tiling, look to the left, at the level of the wording for Bethnal Green in the centre of the roundel, past the vertical black stripe and you can just make out a slightly raised tile. This is one of the decorated tiles.

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

The following tile shows a swan with a crown around the neck.

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

This has been used as a heraldic badge since medieval times. It was used by the 2nd Duke of Buckingham and was adopted by the county of Buckinghamshire, also being incorporated in the coat of arms of the Metropolitan Railway.

In the British Museum Collection there is an example of this symbol in the form of a brooch, made around 1400. Known as the Dunstable Swan Jewel it was found on the site of a Dominican Priory in Dunstable in 1965. Fascinating that these medieval symbols can be found on the tiling of an East London underground station (photo ©Trustees of the British Museum)

If you look just below the left hand wing of the swan on the tile, there is a letter ‘S’ which is repeated on the majority of the tiles. The ‘S’ is for Harold Stabler who designed the tiles. He was originally asked by Frank Pick, the Managing Director of London Underground and the first Chief Executive of London Transport, to design a rabbit mascot for the country buses run by London General in 1922.

Frank Pick later commissioned Harold Stabler to design the tiles representing the counties around London served by the Underground railway, along with a number of London landmarks, including the following representation of the Palace of Westminster:

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

There are two crowns and what looks like a bowler hat – I have no idea what these represent, perhaps Monarch, Lords and MPs?

Harold Stabler was born in 1872. He was a skilled designer and worked in a number of materials including gold and silver and one of his commissions was the Ascot Gold Cup.

in 1936 he was appointed by the Royal Society of Arts as the first Designer for Industry, and he provided consultancy work on design to a number of industries and public bodies. He was involved in the creation of a pottery in Poole and it was this business which would create the tiles for the underground using Stabler’s designs.

He completed the tile designs in the 1930s, however Bethnal Green station did not open until 1946 as works for the Central Line extension had been delayed by the war.

The following tile shows what I assume to be five kings. The horizontal lines have some meaning, but I have not been able to identify the inspiration for this design.

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

Another tile has five flying birds rather than kings, and they appear to be flying over water. Again, I have not been able to identify the meaning behind this design.

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

This design is of the Crystal Palace, however this tile does not have the ‘S’ to be found on all the other tiles, so I am not sure if this is one of Stabler’s original designs.

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

The number five seems a common theme for the tiles. In the following design there are five birds, with two sets of short parallel lines between the top and bottom rows of birds. This tile is one of several held by the Victoria & Albert Museum and their record identifies this design as “five martletts, is the arms of the City of Westminster”.

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

This design was easy to identify:

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

The coat of arms for the county of Middlesex, also as shown below:

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

The following design appears to show the representation of a bird, such as an eagle. Another I have not been able to identify.

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

The following design shows a crown above a pair of oak leaves and three acorns:

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

I suspect this is from the coat of arms for the county of Surrey as shown in the following shield where there a crown with a pair of oak leaves, but with a single acorn:

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

The pictures are from the book ‘The Youngest County’ published by the London County Council in 1951 to commemorate the creation of the County of London. The book includes an overview map of London and the surrounding counties which helped with identification of a number of the tile designs.

This included the following tile which has the design of a horse:

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

Which appears to be very close to the horse from the coat of arms for the County of Kent:

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

The following design appears to be some mythical winged beast. A fascinating design, but one I have been unable to identify:

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

The final design:

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

Which must be a representation of the Coat of Arms for the County of London, as shown below. Although the crown is missing, the “Cross of St. George charged with a lion of England” as described in the book The Youngest County which also describes the whole design, including the crown as “sets forth in heraldic language that London is the Royal Centre of England, situate upon the water”.

Tiles at Bethnal Green Underground Station

I hope that I found all the different designs at Bethnal Green, I spent some time walking up and down both platforms looking for, and photographing the tiles (and in the process attracting some rather strange looks from travelers on the Central Line).

Although I have shown single tiles, there are multiple copies of each of these designs on both platforms.

In 2006 many of the plain tiles along the platform were replaced with replica tiles. There are still some original panels of tiles, and I understand that the decorated tiles are also original, however I do wonder if the tile showing Crystal Palace may be a reproduction as it does not include Stabler’s trade mark letter ‘S’ and it does appear to have a slightly different finish to the rest of the tiles.

Stabler’s decorated tiles were also installed at St. Paul’s, Aldgate East, St. John’s Wood and Swiss Cottage Underground stations. I believe they are still to be seen at Aldgate, but not sure of the other stations – something to check when I can visit.

Harold Stabler died in London in 1945, however it is good to see that his designs live on at Bethnal Green.

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Euston Underground Station – The Lost Tunnels

Euston Underground Station – The Lost Tunnels is the name of the latest Hidden London tour by the London Transport Museum, and on a warm Thursday afternoon last week I took the tour and descended beneath Euston station to find a time capsule from the 1960s.

The tour started at the original Euston station of the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway. The station is one of Leslie Green’s distinctive station designs and is the red building on the corner of Melton Street and Drummond Street, on the western side of Euston mainline station.

Euston Underground Tunnels 1

The Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway (better known as the Hampstead Tube), was one of two original underground lines serving Euston mainline station, opened in 1907, this line served from Charing Cross to the north of London (Golders Green and Highgate) through Euston Station.

The second of the lines was the City and South London Railway which ran from the City through to Stockwell in south London and extended from the City to Euston in 1907.

Although the two lines were separate and had stations on either side of Euston mainline station, they did agree to building an interconnecting passageway with a ticket hall and lifts to the mainline station platform.

The two separate station buildings were closed on the 30th September 1914 after the two railways were taken under the ownership of the Underground Electric Railways of London with the interconnecting passageway providing access to Euston Station. After work to enlarge some of the tunnels, the lines were combined to become the Northern line, with the two lines running south converging at Euston Underground Station.

Inside the remaining Hampstead Tube station building in Melton Street, mainly now used for air conditioning of the tube system.

Euston Underground Tunnels 2

Euston mainline station was rebuilt in the 1960s and along with the new Victoria line running through Euston, the opportunity was taken to rationalise the various underground passageways and ticket halls for the underground lines terminating at Euston.

The old connecting passageways and ticket hall closed on the 29th April 1962 and it is these passageways that were the subject of the tour.

After a look at the station building in Melton Street, it was then a walk through Euston Station, through the underground ticket hall and down to one of the Northern Line platforms, where at the very end of the platform was a door that led through to the closed passageways.

Through the door at the end of the platform and a series of steps lead upwards. The tiling on the side walls highlights that these were once passenger tunnels rather than service tunnels.

Euston Underground Tunnels 26

At the top of the steps and a long disused tunnel stretches ahead. No longer used by passengers moving between the different underground lines and the station above, now just used for carrying the infrastructure needed to run the transport system.

Euston Underground Tunnels 4

I mentioned at the start of this post, that the tunnels are a time capsule from the 1960s. Apart from the installation of cables, they have not been used since and the advertising posters that lined the walls of the tunnels are still in place. Whilst many have lost sections over the years, the lack of sunlight means that the colours are as vibrant as when they were first pasted on the walls.

Advertising fine furniture from the London Cooperative Society:

Euston Underground Tunnels 5

Posters on the walls include the posters informing passengers of the impending closure of the tunnels on the 29th April 1962:

Euston Underground Tunnels 6

Posters include the original telephone number format when the London area was still part of the dial code:

Euston Underground Tunnels 7

Along the passageway is the original ticket office. This provided passengers passing between the different rail networks with the option of buying tickets as they passed along the interconnecting tunnels.

Euston Underground Tunnels 8

Poster advertising the film West Side Story at the Astoria from the 27th February 1962:

Euston Underground Tunnels 9

Steps to a dead end. It would be interesting to know what is on the other side:

Euston Underground Tunnels 10

More posters:

Euston Underground Tunnels 11

And more posters. The poster in the centre invites you to Meet the Stars and includes names such as Brian Rix, Stratford Johns, Francesca Annis, Maurice Denham and Julie Andrew.

Euston Underground Tunnels 12

Cross tunnels with air conditioning:

Euston Underground Tunnels 13

And a bricked up entrance:

Euston Underground Tunnels 14

Poster advertising Bargain Travel on British Rail. Not sure that with the way ticket prices have changed since the early 1960s you would now get as much “More miles for your money”:

Euston Underground Tunnels 15

The Midland Pullman – a luxury 1st class only train aimed at business travelers between London and Manchester:

Euston Underground Tunnels 16

Advertising poster for Hitchcock’s film Psycho:

Euston Underground Tunnels 17

View along the tunnel:

Euston Underground Tunnels 18

The route up to the mainline station from the original connecting passageways was via lift. Two lifts shafts originally ran to the surface. Looking up one of the lift shafts:

Euston Underground Tunnels 19

As well as the original passenger tunnels that provided connectivity between the underground lines and the surface station, the complex of tunnels includes tunnels to help provide ventilation to the underground system. These tunnels are just the basic construction without any of the flat walkways and wall tiling to be found on the passenger tunnels.

Looking up the tunnel with a limited amount of infill on the floor of the tunnel to provide a walkway:

Euston Underground Tunnels 23

Further up the tunnel:

Euston Underground Tunnels 22

At the top of the tunnel where it runs across the top of the underground platforms below:

Euston Underground Tunnels 21

This is where the holes in the roof of the platforms below provide access to the ventilation tunnels above. If you look up from many of the platforms across the underground system you will see large grills set in the roof above the part of the tunnel where the train runs. It is these grills that lead to ventilation tunnels above. Trains entering and leaving the station help with ventilation by causing a large amount of air movement as they pass through.

The roof of a train and passengers just about to board seen from above the ventilation grill:

Euston Underground Tunnels 20

Back along the tunnels:

Euston Underground Tunnels 24

View back along one of the tunnels. Lots of tools stored along the tunnel edge:

Euston Underground Tunnels 25

Another view along the tunnels

Euston Underground Tunnels 27

And finally at the end of the tour. Looking down the steps to the door leading through to the platform. It was 5pm by the end of the tour, so just the other side of that door is the platform with the start of the evening rush hour in full flow.

Euston Underground Tunnels 3

This is the fifth Hidden London tour by the London Transport Museum that I have been on over the last couple of years and in someways, once you have seen one tunnel you have seen them all, however they are all unique.

They each tell part of the story of how London’s Underground system has evolved over the past hundred plus years. Initially, individual lines often competing with each other, now part of an integrated transport system.

Some, such as these at Euston Underground Station provide a snapshot of the time when they were closed, the walls still covered in the posters that the last passengers would have seen when they last walked these tunnels in April 1962.

The Hidden London tours run by the London Transport Museum are excellent and provide a fascinating view of the old tunnels that run alongside the tunnels that carry thousands of passengers every day.

Tickets for Hidden London tours can be purchase here.

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The Chalybeate Well – Hampstead

The high ground of Hampstead Heath, to the north of central London has a fascinating geology which helped to drive Hampstead’s original development and is also the source of rivers such as the Fleet and the Westbourne.

The highest point on the heath reaches some 133 meters above sea level. If you stand on the heath, under your feet will be a thick layer of sand and gravel, known to Geologists as the Lower Bagshot Sands, which at the highest point is 24 meters thick. The thickness of this layer fluctuates across the heath, for example when the shafts were sunk for the Hampstead Underground Station, the layer was found to be only 5 meters thick, and the layer disappears as height descends running down from Hampstead.

Underneath the layer of sand and gravel is a layer of sandy clay which extends for 15 meters at the thickest point. Underneath this layer is the thick and impermeable London Clay which extends over much of London.

The following map from “Hampstead Heath – It’s Geology And Natural History” by the Hampstead Scientific Society published in 1913 shows the area covered by the Bagshot Sands.

Chalybeate Well 13

Hampstead and the heath can therefore be considered as a sandy peak sitting on top of a layer of thick clay.

It is this geology which gives rise to the large number of springs which can be found across the heath. Rainwater can easily pass through the layers of sand before reaching the layer of London Clay which presents a barrier. Water then runs horizontally along the boundary between the sand and clay to come back out from the ground in the form of a spring at the point lower down the heath where the sand layer stops.

When emerging from the ground, the water carries with it the properties of the sand through which it has passed, and it is these springs and the properties of the water that have been so important in Hampstead’s development.

So what relevance does this brief geological introduction to Hampstead have to this week’s post? Among my father’s photos is this photo of a well taken in 1949:

Chalybeate Well 1

The same well in 2016:

Chalybeate Well 3

This is the Chalybeate Well in Well Walk, Hampstead. In the context of water, the name chalybeate means that the water contains iron.

The springs of Hampstead have a long history of providing supplies of water for the rest of London. Conduits were built to channel water from the springs along the heath to the centre of the city. During the search for sources of water, the chalybeate springs must have also been found, and whilst not suitable for drinking water, the high iron content gave rise to the believe that the water had medicinal properties.

On the 20th December 1698 the infant Earl of Gainsborough and his guardian and mother, the Countess of Gainsborough gave six acres of land in the region of the Chalybeate Well, to be used to benefit the poor of Hampstead. The deed that transferred the land refers to “the Wells lately made there for medicinal waters”. The transfer was to a charity managed by 14 trustees.

This gift of land is recorded on the plaque on the Chalybeate Well:

Chalybeate Well 5

The land in this area of Hampstead was poor quality and rather boggy due to the number of springs. Despite the gift of the land, there was little from the land that would benefit the poor of Hampstead, apart from the springs and it is these that the trustees started to develop.

An advertisement posted by the trustees in the “Postman” on the 18th April 1700 reads:

“The Chalybeate Waters at Hampstead being of the same nature and equal in virtue with Tunbridge Wells and highly approved of by most of the eminent physicians of the College, as likewise by many of the gentry who formerly used to drink Tunbridge Waters, are by direction of the Trustees of the Wells aforesaid, for the conveniency of those who yearly drink them in London carefully bottled up in flasks and sent to Mr. Phelps Apothecary at the Eagle and Child in Fleet Street every morning at the rate of 3d per flask and if any person desires to have them brought to their own houses, they will be conveyed to them upon their leaving a note to Mr Phelps’ aforesaid at 1d more, and to prevent any person being imposed upon the true waters and nowhere else to be procured unless they are sent for to the Wells at Hampstead, and the said Mr Phelps to prevent Counterfeits hath ordered his servants to deliver to each person who comes for any of the waters aforesaid, a sealed ticket viz: a wolf rampant with 7 Crosslets. Note! the messengers that come for the waters must take care to return the flasks daily.”

So the Chalybeate Wells of Hampstead were in competition with those of Tunbridge Wells. It also provides a fascinating insight into the need to guarantee that the waters provided in flasks were original – the use of a sealed ticket with a wolf rampant sounds very dramatic.

The waters were bottled on the site of the present pub “The Flask” on Flask Walk which leads directly into Well Walk.

The source of the water that was sold in London was not from the existing Chalybeate Well in Well Walk, the source was a spring and pond (filled in about 1880) about 100 yards further up the hill.

As well as the sale of the water in London, the trustees also looked at other opportunities for how they could gain further benefit from the 6 acres of land.

On the 2nd June 1701, a John Duffield was granted possession of the land for a period of 21 years for an annual rent of £50. John Duffield must have realized the opportunities that the land and the associated springs provided with their close location to the rest of London. He immediately started building work, constructing buildings that would enhance the local springs with a Great Room or Long Room, Assembly Rooms and a Pump Room. To these rooms were soon added a tavern, chapel and shops along with formal gardens and a bowling green.

The following map from George Potter’s “Hampstead Wells” published in 1907 provides an overview of the area around 1761. The original source for the Chalybeate waters is at point C. The walkway between Well Road and Well Walk terminates on Well Walk directly behind the current Chalybeate Well so the locations of the Great Room, Pump Room etc. can be positioned along the current Well Walk.

Chalybeate Well 12

The type of entertainments provided in these rooms can be identified from another advert in the “Postman” on the 9th September 1701:

“In the Great Room at Hampstead Wells on Monday next being the 15th, exactly at 11 o’clock of the forenoon will be performed a Consort of vocal and instrumental Musick by the best Masters, and at the request of several gentlemen, Jeremy Bowen will perform several songs and particular performance on the violin by several masters. Tickets to be had at the Wells and at St. Stephen’s Coffee House in King Street, Bloomsbury at 1s per ticket. There will be dancing in the afternoon as usual.”

A later advertisement mentions that the room will hold 500 people which gives an indication of the size, and also at 1s per ticket the amount of money that the new buildings at the Hampstead Wells were generating.

John Rocque’s map published in 1746 shows the village of Hampstead still as a village surrounded on all sides by fields and the heath. The new developments around Well Walk are to the upper right of the village.

Chalybeate Well 11

The rear of the Chalybeate Well in 1949. On the left of the basin is a chain which presumably had a cup attached to allow the waters to be drunk from the basin.

Chalybeate Well 2

The rear of the well in 2016. The chain and cup have disappeared. Just above the right hand-side of the basin is a modern push button which appears to offer a pump-action to bring water to the basin – I tried it several times but there was no water.

Chalybeate Well 4

The chalybeate waters, the Long Room, Pump Room etc. enjoyed a number of years of great popularity with those who could afford to travel and pay for the entertainments, with Londoners flocking to Hampstead. However after a number of years their popularity declined, there were a number of scandals and trouble at the tavern. It was also found that the poor of Hampstead who should have benefited from the original grant of land had not received anything as John Duffield had not been paying his annual £50 rent, and by the 1720s when the situation could not last for much longer, eleven of the original fourteen trustees had died so the trust had also become rather ineffective.

After this initial development of the grant of the 6 acres of land, and the chalybeate waters, the area continued under the management of what became the Wells Charity. Continued efforts were made to promote the waters and the entertainments that were provided in the buildings along Well Walk and during the 19th century the houses that currently line Well Walk gradually replaced the 18th century buildings, constructed to promote the spring waters.

The original public basin that held the spring waters was on the opposite side of the road from the current Chalybeate Well which was built around 1882. Water has never run freely from the well. Digging of sewers in the road and other building works appears to have disrupted the underground flow of water. Even if water was flowing into the well, it would not be wise to drink.

A Dr. Atfield analysed the water from the well in 1884 and found that it contained:

analysis

There was a note at the bottom of the above table which read:

“Note – This appears to be chalybeate water mixed with ordinary surface water. If this could be excluded a purely chalybeate water would probably be obtained.”

Not that there was much to drink. In 1907, George Potter of the Wells and Campden Charity recorded that:

“The traveler requiring a draft of it would have to spend at least an hour to obtain a moderate one from this source, and when he had obtained it he probably would not relish it very much.”

So, despite the new well being constructed, there was very little water and what was available was not very drinkable.

George Potter tried to find other sources of water which could be run to the well. A number of shafts were sunk in the gardens of houses along Well Walk and spring water was found, however on analysis it was found that:

“With reference to the analyst’s report on the two samples of water, Nos 2 and 3, a copy of which I forwarded to you on the 10th, it appears to me that I cannot allow it to pass without representing to those in whom is vested the Chalybeate Spring that persons drinking this water run a serious risk of injury to their health.”  (Letter from Dr. Herbert Lttlejohn, Medical Officer of Health to George Potter on the 17th November 1902.)

George Potter described his disappointment with these results: “The handsome new fountain in Well Walk, a fountain without water, is now only a monument – a monument to commemorate the memory of the departed glories of the once famous Hampstead Spa. But even now I am not without hope that a supply of this water, practically pure, may yet be found and let to this fountain – a fountain only in name at present.”

The Well Charity continues to this day in the form of the Hampstead Wells and Campden Trust. Although having been through amalgamation with other charities and changes in status, the charity is rooted in the original donation of 6 acres of land by the Earl and Countess of Gainsborough

The well provided a common source of street names in the area. Chalybeate Well is on Well Walk. Just behind the well is Well Passage which leads up to Well Road.

Chalybeate Well 6

Well Walk has been the location for a number of drawings and paintings of Hampstead over the years. The following print being an example, and reads: “A Prospect of Hampstead from the Corner of Mrs Holford’s Garden, opposite the Well Walk” and shows Hampstead in 1745 (print by William Henry Toms)

816585001

©Trustees of the British Museum

The following print by a Captain Thomas Hasting is from 1828 and titled Near the Well Walk Hampstead”

1169785001

©Trustees of the British Museum

Hampstead has also long been the residence of artists. A blue plaque along Well Walk identifies one of the two houses in which the artist John Constable lived in Hampstead. He frequently visited Hampstead in the summer then moved there permanently until his death in Hampstead in 1837. He took the lease on the house in Well Walk from the summer of 1827 until 1834.

Chalybeate Well 7

Constable delighted in the view of London from his house in Well Walk and worked on a number of paintings of the view. The following is a watercolor painted in the drawing-room at 6 Well Walk looking across to the City and St. Paul’s Cathedral. An inscription on the rear of the painting reads: “Hampstead. drawing Room 12.oclock noon Sept.1830”

9206001

©Trustees of the British Museum

Walking back into Hampstead, at the junction with Christchurch Hill is the Wells Tavern. This was built on the site of the original tavern, the “Old Green Man” which was pulled down in the late 1840s.

Chalybeate Well 8

At the Hampstead end of Well Walk, the road splits into Flask Walk and Gayton Road. Follow Flask Walk towards Hampstead to find The Flask. Both the walk and the pub are named after the flasks that were filled here with spring water ready for dispatch to London.

Chalybeate Well 10

The Chalybeate Well is a reminder of how the geology of a location has played a part in the development of London. The springs helped the early development of laundry services in Hampstead, the waters were channeled to the City through conduits and they have shaped the development and natural history of the heath.

I hope to cover this in more detail in future posts (and it provides a good excuse to walk more in Hampstead and visit Hampstead pubs).

The sources I used to research this post are:

  • Springs, Streams and Spas of London by Alfred Stanley Foord published in 1910
  • Hampstead Heath. Its Geology and Natural History by the Members of the Hampstead Scientific Society published in 1913
  • Hampstead Wells – A Short History of their Rise and Decline by George W. Potter published in 1907
  • For the poor of Hampstead for ever – 300 years of the Hampstead Wells Trust by Christopher Wade published in 1998

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Down Street Station

This year has been a good year for exploring disused underground tunnels. The London Transport Museum and the British Postal Museum have arranged a number of tours throughout the year, and last Thursday I took my last tour of the year, to the disused London Underground Station at Down Street.

You could argue that once you have seen one old underground tunnel, you have seen them all, however each location is unique and they have their own story to tell of London’s development and recent history. Down Street is no exception and held a critical role in the running of the country’s transport network during the last war.

Down Street station is, as the name suggests, in Down Street which runs from Piccadilly to Hertford Street.

The station opened on the 15th March 1907 on the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (part of today’s Piccadilly line), between the stations at Green Park (or as it was called Dover Street) and Hyde Park Corner.

The station however did not meet expectations on passenger numbers for a number of reasons. Green Park and Hyde Park stations were very close by, the station was in a side street rather than on Piccadilly, and the residents of this affluent area tended to have their own private transport rather than use the Underground.

As a result of the station’s limited use, it closed on the 21st May 1932.

The street level station in Down Street as it is today:

Down Street 28

The exterior design of the station was by Leslie Green who was responsible for a number of other stations on the underground. The design and tiling were used on many other stations and clearly marks out the previous function of the building.

Entrance to the platform level today is via the emergency stairs. An original World War 2 sign at the top of the stairs hints at the use of the station during the last war.

Down Street 1

Looking down the stairs:

Down Street 26

Prior to the start of the last war, committees were formed to coordinate key elements of the country’s war effort. One of these was the Railway Executive Committee (REC) and they were in need of a location which would protect the staff and their telephone communication systems.

The role of the REC was to coordinate and manage the wartime operation of the railway companies and the London transport system.

The REC had representatives from each of the rail companies and the London Passenger Transport Board along with telephone communications with each of these organisations. The REC would coordinate the essential movement of troop trains, ammunitions and equipment, raw materials and other goods critical to the war effort, and manage the impact of enemy bombing on the rail network

At the bottom of the stairs, more signs hinting at the previous use of the station.

Down Street 2

Looking back at the bottom of the stairs. The sign on the wall indicates the depth below ground, with the height of the shaft being 22.22 meters.

Down Street 3

The tunnels were converted to provide accommodation for the REC by both London Transport and the London Midland & Scottish Railway.

London Transport were responsible for structural changes and the Railway Company fitted out the tunnels so they were suitable to provide office and living accommodation for the staff of the REC.

Many of the tunnels were plastered or boarded over, partition walls installed and furnished using stock from both the above ground office of the REC and from Railway Hotels, so the quality of furnishing was reasonably high.

This is the tunnel that held the committee room of the Railway Executive Committee. Originally the tunnel walls were boarded and partition walls installed with doors providing entry and exit to the rest of the tunnels. The white tape on the floor marks the position of the board room table.

Down Street 9

One of the side tunnels was converted to provide bathroom facilities for those who would work a shift of several days below ground. The remains of these still exist, although the decay of the past 70 years is clearly evident. These facilities are in individual alcoves along the side of one of the tunnels. It was fascinating to peer into these as they are in almost total darkness. I had to use flash for these photos.

Down Street 4

Bath in the photo above and sink in the photo below.

Down Street 5

Double sink unit. Really good that the historic value of these facilities has been recognised with signs warning not to remove or damage these objects.

Down Street 6

An original water heater.

Down Street 7

Photo showing how the tunnels were partitioned to provide a narrow walkway past the facilities installed in the tunnel on the right.

Down Street 8

As well as the Railway Executive Committee, Down Street also provided accommodation for Winston Churchill at the height of the Blitz.

The original facilities in Whitehall and the Cabinet War Rooms were not considered strong enough to withstand a direct hit by high explosive bombs and whilst new facilities were being constructed, Churchill needed a secure central London location and Down Street provided this service from October to December 1940.

Despite the amount of change needed to accommodate the REC for the duration of the war, much of the original station signage remains:

Down Street 10

To support the work of the REC, communications were needed with the rest of the country’s railway systems. For the time, an advanced telephone system was installed for this purpose and some of this switching equipment still remains:

Down Street 11

Another view of one of the tunnels showing how they were partitioned with narrow walkways providing access across the complex:

Down Street 12

As well as washing and sleeping facilities, the occupants of Down Street also needed to be fed. The station had a kitchen capable of feeding the 40 staff based on site plus any visitors.

Down Street 13

The Piccadilly line still passes through the station. As part of the construction work to make the station suitable for the REC, a wall was built along the length of the platform edge. This still remains with occasional entrances through to the section of the tunnel with the train tracks.

The noise of passing underground trains echoed throughout much of the station. It must have been difficult to work, and to sleep for those off shift during the time when trains would still be running.

Down Street 14

Stairs up to the tunnels which connect with the lifts bringing passengers to and from ground level.

Down Street 15

Some of the original station signage remains behind later paint, plaster and the accumulated dirt of many decades. Later signage helps with orientation in the tunnels.

Down Street 16

An alcove built during the war to accommodate additional communications equipment:

Down Street 17

Station tunnel:Down Street 18

More original signage:

Down Street 21

Curving tunnels always fascinate. What is around the corner?

Down Street 22

Here is the original lift shaft. Lifts were installed during the original station construction. As part of the work to ready the station for occupancy by the REC, a thick concrete cap was installed to ensure that the impact of any surface bombing could not reach the platform levels through the lift shaft.

Down Street 19

The REC continued to use Down Street until the end of 1947. Since then, there have been no other occupants of the station. Many of the partitions were removed to allow various elements of underground signalling and communications to be installed, but the rest of the REC facilities have been left in slow decay.

The main use of Down Street has been to provide ventilation to the Piccadilly Line which is the role the lift shaft provides today.

Looking up the lift shaft:

Down Street 20

These holes in the wall at the bottom of the lift shaft provided the entrance from the platforms tunnels to the lifts.

Down Street 23

The facilities in Down Street were designed not only to provide protection from explosive bombing, but could also be sealed against gas attack with air filtration equipment providing breathable air for the REC staff. An original wartime door.

Down Street 24

Back up to the surface and heading towards the street:

Down Street 27

Down Street is a fascinating station. It only served the Piccadilly Line for a short period of time, but then played a key role in the war, maintaining the efficient coordination and running of the country’s railways.

The London Transport Museum is performing an excellent service in opening up these old stations with well run tours and very knowledgeable guides.  The tour of Down Street is highly recommended to see the remains of the station’s wartime use.

If you do visit Down Street, near by is Shepherd Market. Also well worth a visit which I covered here.

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The Post Office Railway

There is a parallel city beneath the streets of London with all the services needed to support such a complex city. Changes in the life of the city above ground are often reflected below ground with new means of transport and the closure of services that have become outdated.

One of these is the Post Office Railway which ran the six and a half miles from Paddington in the west to Whitechapel in the east, with a total of eight stations located below key postal sorting offices including the major sorting office at Mount Pleasant.

I have long wanted to see this railway and in October the British Postal Museum arranged a limited number of tours of the railway at Mount Pleasant.

My first introduction to the Post Office Railway was reading my first book on what is below the city streets, Under London, by F.L. Stevens, published in 1939. This book describes a visit to the railway when it was in full operation.

The plan for the railway was to speed the delivery of mail between the main London sorting offices and the key rail stations. The streets of London were getting more congested and removing the transport of mail from the streets would save time and help reduce congestion.

Construction of the railway stared in 1914, however construction had to be suspended due to the shortage of manpower and materials during the first world war and the sections of tunnel that were completed were used for storage of rare and valuable items from the London museums.

Construction started again in the early 1920s and the railway fully opened in 1927 and in the period up to the 2nd world war it was carrying six and a half million letter-bags and four  million parcel-bags a year.

The railway closed in 2003. The closure of a number of the sorting offices above ground that connected to the railway reduced the efficiency of the service, and transport by road was seen to be a more economical method.

Since then, it has been mothballed, however the British Postal Museum have plans to open up the platforms and a section of the railway at Mount Pleasant as part of a new museum and visitor centre.

The visit to the railway started with the main workshop area. Much of the repair and maintenance of the railway was performed in-house and these workshops had the majority of facilities to keep the service running.

The view on entering the workshops:

Post Office Railway 1

In the workshops. Two main workshop areas leading to a common space. Trains from the railway can be driven up from the tunnels below for maintenance.

Post Office Railway 2

One of the workshop areas. The ramp leading down to the tunnels is on the left.

Post Office Railway 3

Looking down the tunnel that connects the underground tunnel system with the workshops.

Post Office Railway 4

Lathe in the workshop showing the in-house capabilities.

Post Office Railway 5

Most of the original equipment and signage is still in place. Although the railway closed twelve years ago it felt as if it could spring back into action at any time.

Post Office Railway 6

Looking down one of the workshop areas.

Post Office Railway 7

Original rolling stock in the maintenance area.

Post Office Railway 8

Having walked around the workshop areas, it was now down to the platform where the trains would arrive and depart with their loads of letters and parcels. Two more items of rolling stock waiting at the platform. During peak operation, forty of these trains an hour travelled underneath the streets of London carrying letters and parcels.

Post Office Railway 9

The one nearest the platform had been modified to carry passengers. The size of the rolling stock reflect the nine foot diameter of the main tunnels on the system.

Post Office Railway 10

One of the specialised trains. This one is battery powered (the batteries are carried in the large box on the top of the train). If a train needed to be recovered from the tunnels with the power switched off, the train could independently go and retrieve.

Post Office Railway 11

Looking down the full length of the platform.

Post Office Railway 12

F.L. Stevens writing in Under London in 1939 also visited the same station, and it was fascinating to recall his account of the railway in operation whilst standing on the same platforms over 76 years later:

“I made my introduction to the Post Office railway at Mount Pleasant, a station which occupies a key position in the system. It was rather queer to find oneself in a clean and large underground station so like all the others – and yet so different. There were no advertisements on the wall, and that was the first odd thing I noticed. Then there were the little perky trains, stopping and setting off again without any apparent sign of control. Of course, the control is there all right, and very thorough and alert it is, but you cannot see it. The electric locomotives have a kind of robot head and face, which seems to be perpetually at the wink, and saying ‘Pretty clever, eh?’

Picture the scene on the west-bound platform at Mount Pleasant. here comes our train, running smoothly out of the tunnel and stopping at precisely the appointed place. Actually it stops twice at Mount Pleasant; once for letters at one end of the long platform, and again for parcels at the other.

As soon as it stops, a couple of men step forward and move the containers – shaped like long cradles – on to tippers, which turn the containers upside down, emptying the bags on to conveyors running beneath the platform. In a few seconds the bags are emptied again into a “bag elevator”, which is really a big dredger, with great buckets which scoop up the bags as they fall and carry them up to a sorting office above ground.

Whilst this is going on, letter-bags from the offices above are tumbling down the chute (which is exactly  like a helter-skelter at the fair ground) on to the platforms, where they are piled into empty containers in readiness for the next train. It is all done very quietly and methodically; the three-minute service is operating and everything goes like clockwork.

Meanwhile our train moves on a hundred yards or so to the parcels end of the platform. The men can see at once from the ticket fixed to the containers which parcels are meant for them, and off they come and are wheeled, not to a tipper this time, but to a conveyor, a kind of endless carpet, moving uphill at quiet a steep gradient. It is odd to watch the parcels drop on to the conveyor. Many of them seem to come to life, and act just like children. They do not want to go up the moving hill, so they dance and writhe, sit up for a minute and fall back, sometimes clutching their neighbour, turning head over heels, or just shaking with rage. After a few seconds these fits of obstinacy pass, and they lie down and disappear in the shadows of their upward journey.

But who is controlling all this, you might ask? Who knows when the men have finished unloading and loading? Well, as soon as the job is finished, and the train is ready to set off again, the head man of the platform staff presses a button. A red light appears, which means ‘ Stand clear and don’t touch’. At the same time, a green light, meaning ‘Set her off,’ appears in the underground switch-cabin which is the nerve-centre of the system.”

All is silent now on the Post Office Railway and it will not carry any more letters or parcels.

Having reached the end of the platform, it was now time to take a look at some of the tunnels.

Post Office Railway 13

There seem to be numerous tunnels. The main tunnels running to the next stations, loop tunnels between the platforms and tunnels up to the workshops.

Post Office Railway 14

Tunnels into the stations are 25 foot in diameter.

Post Office Railway 15

Here is the tunnel leading of to the next station, this is where the tunnels reduce to 9 foot in diameter. The tunnels between stations are on average 70 foot below ground level.

Post Office Railway 16

The stations that these tunnels connect were:

  • Paddington Station
  • Western Parcels Office – Barrett Street
  • Western District Office – Wimpole Street
  • West Central District Office – New Oxford Street
  • Mount Pleasant – Main London Sorting Office
  • King Edward Building Sorting Office – King Edward Street
  • Liverpool Street Station
  • Eastern District Office – Whitechapel Road

In between stations the trains would get up to 35 miles per hour. The tunnels are designed so that they slope up towards a platform to help reduce the speed of the train, and slope down from a station to help accelerate the train.

The tunnel curving into the distance.

Post Office Railway 17

Part of the loop tunnel between platforms was painted white with Christmas paintings in paint that will glow under ultra-violet lighting. This was for Christmas Parties organised by the staff when children would be taken on a train between the two platforms in the dark, but with the paintings on the wall glowing under the special light.

Post Office Railway 18

Another reduction in tunnel diameter.

Post Office Railway 19

Tunnels leading off in all directions.

Post Office Railway 20

Back on the platforms, one of the essential bits of equipment.

Post Office Railway 21

Standing on the platform imagining the scene as described by F.L. Stevens with the trains running up to the platforms, being unloaded, loaded with new mail and parcel bags and running on to the next station.

Post Office Railway 22

Some of the platform equipment for managing letter and parcel bags.

Post Office Railway 23

It was a fascinating tour run by the British Postal Museum with very informative and knowledgeable guides. When opened as part of the new museum, the Post Office Railway will be a great example of London’s industrial heritage.

alondoninheritance.com

Clapham South Deep-Level Shelter

I have always been interested in what can be found beneath the city streets since finding a copy of Under London by F.L Stevens, published in 1939, probably one of the earliest books dedicated to the subject.

In the late 1970’s, straight out of school as a British Telecom apprentice and working in one of the hidden regional seats of government during the Cold War only furthered this interest. This site in Essex was entered via an ordinary bungalow built on a hillside, inside which a long tunnel led deep into the hillside to the centre of the complex. The site is now open as a tourist attraction !

Therefore I will always take any opportunity for an underground visit and recently the London Transport Museum have been arranging open days at a number of facilities associated with the transport system.

A couple of weeks ago, as part of the London Transport Museum open days I visited the Clapham South Deep-Level Shelter, built during the 2nd World War.

The book Under London, being published in 1939, did not cover the structures built during the war, however it does show the rapid change in the types of defences needed to protect Londoners. The book concludes with a final chapter “London Takes Cover” which documents some of the preparations in London for the expected bombing of the city. Part of the chapter reads:

“A model system of trenches has been built in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, under the seven acres of which is an underground network, one thousand four hundred and twenty-nine feet long, seven feet deep, and covered with concrete and two feet of earth. Seating accommodation is provided for one thousand three hundred people. When the work is finished, turf will be replanted, tennis courts re-laid and, in addition, a new putting green is to be constructed.

Trench systems nearing completion are, at the time I write this, at Clapham Common; Kennington Park; Victoria Park….”

There follows a list of the locations in London where trench systems were being built. The inadequate protection provided by shallow trench systems for the bombing that was to come was soon very apparent.  I doubt the author of Under London could have imagined the shelters that would be built in the next few years, one of which was the Clapham South Deep-Level Shelter.

One of the entrances to the shelter close to Clapham South Underground Station on the edge of the Common:

Clapham Shelter 21

At the start of the war, air raid shelters consisted of trench systems, the basements of buildings, along with the opening of underground stations, although the adequacy of these proved ineffective to direct bombing, including parts of the underground system which were just below the surface. Deep level shelters were needed and in October 1940, with no end in sight of the heavy bombing on London, the Government planned the construction of a number of deep level shelters across London capable of taking up to 10,000 people in each shelter.

Construction started in 1941 with completion in 1942.

To enter the tunnel system on the tour, a second entrance was used, not the obvious entrance on the edge of the Common. At first glance it could be part of the architectural features of the new building above the entrance, however a side door provides access to a very different world:

Clapham Shelter 20

The shelters are approximately 30 meters deep and the vertical shaft providing access has a double spiral of stairs to speed entry and descent. Whilst the shelters had the facilities to house 10,000 people, getting this many in and out needed the double spiral to try and speed this up, although how long it may have taken for many thousands of people of all ages to climb 30 meters of stairs after a long night below ground can only be imagined.

Clapham Shelter 19

At the base of the stairs, part of one of the cross passages:

Clapham Shelter 1

The cross passages provide access to the main shelters. These consist of two tunnels, each about 400 meters long. The tunnels are divided into upper and lower levels thereby doubling the number of people each tunnel can accommodate.

A glimpse of one of the shelter tunnels curving into the distance:

Clapham Shelter 13

Looking down one of the shelter tunnels. This is the lower half of the tunnel with an identical arrangement in the half of the tunnel above. On the left are the original frames of the bunks provided for those seeking shelter. On the right is shelving for when the shelter was later used to provide secure archive storage.

Clapham Shelter 5

One of the sections has been fitted out to show how they would have been used:

Clapham Shelter 3

Looking along the top bunk level, the length of the shelter. Imagine looking along this level when the top bunks were all occupied.

Clapham Shelter 4

One of the junctions on the cross passages. On the left is one of the places on the tour where a photo background has been put in place to show what the shelter looked like at the time of use, very effective.

Clapham Shelter 8

With two long, identical tunnels, each divided into two, it would have been rather difficult to find the specific place where you had your bunk or to meet other family members or friends. To help with location finding, the tunnels were divided into shelter areas, each named after a senior officer in the navy.

Clapham Shelter 12

The tunnels are very well signposted so even with many thousands of people, whilst it would have been crowded, it would have been difficult to get lost.

Clapham Shelter 11

Each of the shelters had a canteen. To keep up morale and provide an incentive for being in the shelters, as well as hot drinks, the canteens provided sausage rolls, meat pies etc. food that was not easily available due to the strict rationing restrictions in place at the time.

Original fuse box at one of the canteen locations:

Clapham Shelter 9

As well as the fuse box, other reminders of the original use of sections of the shelters remain. Original location for a sink in one of the medical facilities:

Clapham Shelter 2

Examples of wartime posters highlighting the problems with food supplies at the time and the importance of home grown, basic food products such as potatoes and carrots:

Clapham Shelter 7

As well as the two surface entrances, the tunnels also has an access to the Clapham South Underground Station. This entrance is now bricked up, however during the war it was used to provide direct access to the station platforms for those travelling to work by underground train.

Throughout the tour, the sound of trains highlighted how close the shelters were to the tunnels of the Northern Line.

Steps leading up to the bricked up entrance to Clapham South station:

Clapham Shelter 10

Brown staining on some of the tunnel walls provide an indication of the materials used in construction. Apparently the brown stains are from the creosote used to soak the hemp that provides waterproofing between joints in the structure.

Clapham Shelter 14

By the time the shelters were completed, the intense bombing from the blitz period had ceased and bombing of London was much more sporadic. The shelters remained available, but were not opened. This changed during the later period of the war when the V1 and V2 weapons were targeting London.

After the war the Clapham South shelters were called on to provide accommodation to meet a number of specific needs.

Military personnel were accommodated in the shelters for large events in London, such as the 1953 coronation. Migrant workers who arrived in 1948 on the Empire Windrush, and who did not have any other accommodation, were provided with space in the shelters.

During the 1951 Festival of Britain, the shelters became the Festival Hotel and provided cheap accommodation for overseas visitors to the festival.

Some of these occupants left their mark in the shelters. Above the bunks, names can be found written on the shelter walls. Due to the dry conditions and stable temperatures of the shelters these look as if they could have been written yesterday rather than over 60 years ago:

Clapham Shelter 15

Some are written upside down. Here, Marcel de Wael from Brussels was obviously lying on his bunk, writing his name on the shelter wall above his head:

Clapham Shelter 23

As well as reminders of the occupants, other original signage can be found throughout the shelters:

Clapham Shelter 17

And inside the control room, one of the boards and the outlines of alarms and indicators that would have notified the staff of any problems within the shelters:

Clapham Shelter 18

The end of the tour and time to climb the 30 meters back to the surface:

Clapham Shelter 24The shelters are impressive to visit and the London Transport Museum tours are really well run and highly informative.

These tunnels were built at the height of the war and the blitz on London, mainly dug by hand and without the complex shields and tunnel boring machines that would be used today.

It was not just the shelters at Clapham South, but the other eight shelters completed around London at the same time. In addition to Clapham South, shelters were completed at Clapham Common, Clapham North, Stockwell, Goodge Street, Chancery Lane, Camden Town and Belsize Park. Tunnels were started at the Oval and St. Pauls but were abandoned at the Oval due to poor ground conditions and at St. Paul’s due to restrictions with tunnelling close to the cathedral.

A truly impressive undertaking.

The excellent Subterranea Britannica site has a wealth of detail and photos on the Clapham South Deep-Level Shelter which can be found here.

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