Did you know it is a year since I started this blog? Looking back over the stories we’ve covered lots of ground together – literally in terms of distance but also in time. Sometimes very up-to-the-minute stories – literally as the events unfolded – and also the occasional historical or anniversary one.
So now we have our own anniversary – one year of blogs and some very nice comments from people on the way. Also a bit of debate, too, which is good.
So then a dip into history in a way as this weekend - the Mayor of London whas been staging a unique event at Aldwych Underground station in partnership with the LT Museum and TfL.
Aldwych station was last used by passengers in 1994. Having opened (as Strand) in 1907 it was never developed as planned and none of the proposed extensions south of the river, or interchange with other new lines east/west such as the Fleet Line were ever completed.
It has been used for other purposes, including for filming but this year it has joined the 70 year Blitz commemoration.
I joined the trip last night – one of the three days it is on. Back inside the ticket hall it was amazing to remember it was 16 years since it closed. As if we were shelterers we were briefed by an APR warden and led down the 160 stairs to platform level where the Museum’s preserved 1938 Tube stock train was parked in an otherwise dimly-lit platform. We moved in groups between cars each hosted by an actor/actress delivering some stories of the time in period costume. One car ran a continuous loop of aural history from a survivor of the time.
Once all this was done we were back on the platform to hear, see and feel the effects of the bombing before, inevitably, the all-clear siren sounded.
As did the Londoners of the time, we climbed back up those 160 steps to see what was outside. Of course we were reasonably certain of what it was going to be like, unlike the sheltering residents of the time.
There was an interesting retail opportunity as we left through a door outside which was parked RT8 in its wartime partial-blackout garb.
Needless to say this event was sold out within a very short time of tickets going on sale so it is hoped it can be repeated. Meantime the mainstream Blitz exhibition at the LT Museum continues with LT165 in residence as well.
In better days the front entrance to Aldwych Station which survives more or less intact, and a view inside the old ticket hall last night complete with period posters - a couple partially disguising the old home of the automatic ticket machines of the early 1990s.
For the full story of this interesting branch get a copy of The Aldwych Branch by Antony Badsey-Ellis and Mike Horne (Capital Transport).