London has a long, twisting, and sometimes dark history… its streets are haunted by historic figures of high repute, from those who wander the palace halls and Tower of London to the night stalker of London’s East End, Jack the Ripper. There’s no shortage of ghost stories in London… but did you know there are also ghost stations in London?
London ghost stations aren’t actually haunted, despite their name. Instead, they are abandoned underground train stations, most of which were part of the London Underground system at one point or another. Closed off and left to slowly decay, London’s ghost stations are time capsules from bygone eras – and easily missed if you’re just strolling around at street level taking in the sights.
In this post, I’ll share more about London’s ghost stations: what they are, why they exist, and where to find them above ground. You’ll also learn about visiting ghost stations in London below ground, because we all know that’s the coolest part. Read on to sink below the surface of modern-day London and explore a new part of the city.
Featured photo courtesy of Steve Brown via Flickr
What are the “Ghost Stations” in London?
Photos courtesy of Matt Brown, David Jones, and steve_w via Flickr
While there are many stations no longer in use or existence within the London Underground system, I don’t think all of them qualify as ghost stations. To me, there needs to be some evidence of the former station – above or below ground, or both – to qualify as a ghost station in London.
Breaking it down, there are 77 stations which were once part of the London Underground system but no longer are; 29 of those are now operated by National Rail. 27 others were completely demolished and there’s no evidence of the former station above or below ground.
That leaves 19 stations that qualify as “ghost stations;” some or all of the original structure remains, but the Tube carriages will never stop at those stations again. Two (Charing Cross and Holborn) others are partly disused but still part of the London Underground system; I’d count those parts of each station as ghost stations, though the whole station obviously isn’t a ghost station. By my count, that means there are 21 ghost stations in London that you could theoretically visit in some way:
|Building and platforms remains
|Building remains as private residence
|Mostly demolished, portion of eastbound tunnel remains visible between Holborn and Tottenham Court Road
|Mostly demolished, side elevation remains
|Jubilee section of station closed, other lines still service this station
|Modern ventilation tower and emergency escape remain
|Portion of station servicing Piccadilly branch to Aldwych closed, other parts of station remain
|King’s Cross St Pancras
|Building remains; original platforms remain
|King William Street
|Underground platforms remain
|Osterley & Spring Grove
|Building remains as retail unit; platforms partially remain
|South Kentish Town
|Building remains and platforms visible between King’s Cross and Caledonian Road
Speaking of visiting, I’ll share more on that below – it’s a very unique thing to do in London if you’re curious about exploring ghost stations for yourself.
Map of London’s Ghost Stations
There is no official map of London’s ghost stations provided by TfL, in fact they offer the least helpful resources of anyone regarding the disused Underground stations that were once part of the network.
However, I did find the map above, which was originally researched by artist Dylan Mark and created by (now defunct) usvsth3m in the style of London’s modern Tube maps.
As you can see from the above map of London’s ghost stations, the stations fall into several categories of how they became “ghosts:” most ghost stations in Central London were closed when other, more convenient stations opened; others were part of lines that were eventually shut down – and all the stations on them. Some further from Central London – Zones 2 and 3 – were “re-sited” for other stations, sometimes on other lines as newer lines were built. The majority of them which were originally on the outskirts of the city are now part of the National Rail system.
No matter why the station was built or what it became, this map of London ghost stations is worth a closer look. (Click the image for a larger version.)
15 Fascinating & Famous London Ghost Stations
Part of what makes London’s ghost stations so interesting is that they each have a unique history to explain why the station was originally built – and why it was eventually closed. I’ve chosen some of my favorite stories about ghost stations in London to share here. You will notice a few of these names aren’t on the table above; as you’ll see, that’s because they have modern versions of the station that sort of confuse the narrative. Let’s go deep to explore – don’t get lost down there!
Photos courtesy of Jeff Hitchcock, Metro Centric, and acemcbuller via Flickr
Arguably the most famous of London’s ghost stations, you might actually recognize Aldwych station, as it has been featured in Sherlock, V for Vendetta, Fast & Furious 6, and 28 Weeks Later.
It was originally opened in 1907 as “Strand Station,” hence the building name, on the Great Northern Piccadilly and Brompton Railway. It was renamed Aldwych in 1915, and operated until 1994 – even though it was inconvenient to reach on a single-stop line from Holborn and very close to Temple station. Aldwych station is one of the best wholly-preserved ghost stations, and a popular spot for tours (more on that below).
2. British Museum
Photo (R) courtesy of Gordon Joly via Flickr
Almost opposite to Aldwych station, British Museum station is almost entirely gone. The reason this station was closed was in part because Holborn station opened less than 100 meters down the Central Line.
After closing the station in 1933, the building above grade was used as a military office and command post and then as retail until it was demolished in 1989. Since that time, the platforms below ground have since been removed, and the tunnels are used for underground, Underground storage.
The only part of this station you can see is the entrance to the Eastbound tunnel, which is visible as a spur off the Central Line just after departing Holborn station headed westbound. I’ve seen it – just once – in the darkness of the short transfer between Holborn and Tottenham Court stations.
3. Brompton Road
Photos courtesy of Google Maps, Matt Brown & Annie Cole via Flickr
Originally opened in 1906 as part of the Great Northern Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (like Aldwych/Strand station), Brompton Road was plagued by low passenger numbers from its earliest days. By 1909, some conductors didn’t even stop at the station, prompting a 1928 comedic play called “Passing Brompton Road.”
After just 28 years, Brompton Road station closed in 1934, and became the command center of the 26th (London) Anti-Aircraft Brigade during World War II. It sat unused after that, and was sold by the Ministry of Defense to a businessman in 2014. The plan was to redevelop it into residential units – cool! – but as of 2022, it appears to be basic residential units on Google Maps – if it’s in use at all.
You can walk by the building along Brompton Road from either South Kensington or Knightsbridge stations, which are both close by (and part of the reason the station never became popular!).
4. Charing Cross
Photos courtesy of Steve Brown via Flickr
If you recognize this station’s name, that’s because it’s not entirely a ghost station – it’s only partially closed, and some of the platforms are still in use as part of the Bakerloo and Northern lines.
Charing Cross was originally two separate stations, known for most of their existence as Trafalgar Square and Strand stations. The Bakerloo platforms were opened for the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway in 1906 and the Northern line platforms for the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway in 1907.
In the 1970s, in preparation for the opening of the Jubilee line (so named to mark Queen Elizabeth’s silver jubilee), the two earlier stations were connected together with new passageways. When the Jubilee line platforms opened in 1979, the combined station was given the current name of Charing Cross, however Jubilee line services stopped running through Charing Cross in 1999 when the line was extended to Stratford.
It is this Jubilee portion of Charing Cross that can be considered a ghost station, as Bakerloo and Northern line trains still stop here at their original platforms.
5. Down Street
Photos courtesy of Olliver Mallich & Matt Brown via Flickr
Another ghost left from the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway, Down Street originally opened in 1907. Like Brompton Road, Down Street was close to other stations – Green Park (originally named Dover Street) and Hyde Park Corner are both about 500 meters on either side of Down Street station. As such, it was never popular and had low visitation numbers; also like Brompton Road, some conductors simply skipped the station all together, and trains didn’t even stop at Down Street on Sundays starting from 1918.
Later served by the Piccadilly line, Down Street was closed in 1932 to improve efficiency and reliability. It was used during wartime, including by Churchill while his War Rooms were being prepared. (Churchill called it “The Barn,” for fun London trivia!)
6. Hyde Park Corner
I chose to include Hyde Park Corner on my list of fascinating London ghost stations in part because of its history – but also because of what it has become.
Hyde Park Corner is close to Down Street, and was originally opened in 1899. The iconic red above-ground ticket hall closed in 1908 when a sub-surface hall opened nearby, but the building remains to this day. Unlike some of its closed companions, the station has had quite a life since then. For a time it was a pizza restaurant, and today it’s the entrance to The Wellesley Knightsbridge, a small luxury hotel – if you love these ghost stations, this is the place to stay!
7. King William Street
The original but short-lived northern terminus of the City and South London Railway (C&SLR), King William Street was one of the first Underground stations in the City of London.
It is also one of the oldest ghost stations in London: it opened in 1890 and closed a decade later in 1900. It closed when Moorgate was added as a station on the C&SLR, in part because the area was already served by nearby Monument and Bank stations.
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about King William Street station was its use as an air-raid shelter during World War II; it exemplifies Londoners’ pragmatism during tough times, as many stations like it were used in a similar fashion during the Blitz.
9. South Kentish Town
Plagued from the beginning, it’s no surprise that South Kentish Town station became a ghost station. Before it was opened in 1907, it was planned to be called Castle Road; the last-minute name change cost a ton since custom tiles had to be painted over to change the name.
Once in operation, South Kentish Town station wasn’t popular, like Brompton Road and Down Street, and by 1908 – just one year after opening – drivers began skipping the station. It remained in operation until 1924, when the station finally closed and trains could breeze through on the Northern Line. Like King William Street, it too was used as an air-raid shelter during the war. Today, the surface-level building is used as an escape room venue. (Count me in!)
10.-11. Tower of London / Mark Lane
Photo (L) courtesy of David Wakefield via Instagram
I decided to include Tower of London and Mark Lane stations on my list of ghost stations, even though they are both demolished and you can’t visit them today.
Tower of London station was one of the earliest to become a ghost station; it was demolished after closing in 1884 – just two years after opening. It was replaced by Mark Lane, so named for the street its entrance sat on. Mark Lane opened the year that Tower of London closed, and stayed in operation until 1967. Its name changed to Tower Hill in 1946 – which is the name of the station that replaced it, too. Confused yet?
It should be clear by this point that even when a station goes out of use in London, its for good reason and the people it was built to serve will be served by somewhere new.
The original building for Mark Lane station sits on Seething Lane, and you can see the entrance stairs by using the pedestrian subway to cross under Bywater. The underground section of Mark Lane station can still be seen when traveling eastbound from Monument to Tower Hill; only one platform on the eastbound track now remains.
12.-15. Wood Lane(s)/White City(s)
For one more name switcheroo, let’s look at the example of two more ghost stations: Wood Lane and White City. To help you understand the confusing tale of these two stations – and the two present-day stations that bear the same names, I’ve color coded the lines to match their modern Underground lines.
There were actually two stations named in Wood Lane, both of which opened in 1908 to help visitors experience the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition and the 1908 Olympic Games.
Wood Lane was the original western terminus of the Central line’s precursor, the Central London Railway (CLR). However, the Central Line Wood Lane closed in 1947 following the opening of nearby White City station (also Central). The Central Line White City operated until 1959, when a fire closed the station permanently.
The other one was called “Wood Lane (Exhibition)” and it was part of the Metropolitan Railway (now Metropolitan Line). It closed in 1914 during World War I, and reopened in 1920 as “Wood Lane (White City).” It changed its name to White City (Metropolitan) in 1947, which is the name it retains to this day.
And what about the present day Wood Lane? That one opened in 2008 and is part of the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines.
So throughout London’s history, there have been three Wood Lane stations and two White City stations – some of which overlapped with each other!
How to Visit London Ghost Stations
Photos courtesy of steve_w and Steve Brown via Flickr
If you’re like me, part of the reason you’re interested in London ghost stations is to try and visit them. Getting the chance to wander through some sealed off chapter of London history is right up my alley!
There is only one way to visit ghost stations in London: as part of the Hidden London tour series offered by the London Transport Museum. This museum – which makes my list of the best museums in London – focuses on transport in and around the great city, including past chapters of such transport like ghost stations.
They offer a variety of guided ghost station tours throughout the year; as of writing, there are upcoming tours to Aldwych, Charing Cross, and Down Street. There are also Hidden London tours to other stations that are still open, like Euston, Moorgate, and Piccadilly Circus. I highlight the word guided since it’s important to note you won’t be given free reign; you’ll have a guide showing you safe parts of each station on yoru tour.
Tours typically occur several times daily when they are offered, and cost £41.50 per person (£36.50 for certain groups). While it isn’t cheap to visit London’s ghost stations, it’s definitely one of the most unique things to do in London!
Have any other questions about London’s ghost stations or how to visit them? Let me know in the comments or join the conversation in my London Travel Tips Facebook community.