A portal into the London Underground’s past hides near one of the city’s busiest Tube stations. Though a steady stream of commuters hasn’t passed through the tunnel in decades, an occasional trickle of subterranean explorers can catch a glimpse of this abandoned piece of infrastructure.
The London Underground’s Northern Line was born out of an amalgamation of two originally separate underground routes, which both came to Euston in the early 1900s. The owners of Euston mainline station stipulated that each underground route had to have a separate station building above ground.
The two underground railway operators agreed to this, but also decided it would help to build a tunnel connecting their platforms, as this would save passengers from having to trek above ground to change lines. However, as the lines were run by different companies, a new ticket was required when changing, so a ticket office was installed within the tunnel.
The individual station buildings for the Underground lines at Euston were closed in 1914, when the lines came under the control of the same company. By the 1960s, the lines had long since been unified and operated through Euston as the Northern Line, though as separate branches (which is still a source of confusion to unwary passengers today!).
The construction of the Victoria Line in 1962 saw the creation of a new set of tunnels, as well as a larger ticket hall to cope with the increased number of passengers. The old tunnel between the two branches of the Northern line was thus closed.
But the tunnel was never stripped or cleaned and exists now as a sort of time capsule. The walls are covered in advertising posters from the 1960s, many still bright and readable despite the passing of the years and the installation of service lines over them.
Know Before You Go
The London Transport Museum currently operates tours of one of the disused stations, the linking tunnel filled with the posters, and a walk into the ventilation system above the Victoria line platforms. These special tours can be booked (subject to availability) through the London Transport Museum's website.
Tours last roughly 75 minutes and are limited to 20 people. Meet at 16 Melton Street 15 minutes prior to the start time. You’ll be met by members of the Hidden London team, who will then discuss health and safety requirements and give you a high visibility jacket to wear while underground. Bring a photo ID as well as your ticket. You must wear flat, close-toed shoes. Children under 14 are not permitted.