Discover London’s secret underworld at a new London Transport Museum exhibition in Covent Garden.
Beneath the busy streets of London, the tube has trundled since 1863, when the first line was officially opened. Its history spans more than 150 years, through the First and Second World Wars, right up to the present day. Survivals from the wars and bygone times are now revealed to the public for the first time, in ‘Hidden London’, telling long-forgotten stories unearthed from the secret spaces of the world’s oldest subterranean railway.
The exhibition takes you on an immersive journey through the underground’s history, featuring recreations of abandoned underground locations, such as Churchill’s secret dining room and the abandoned ticket hall at Aldwych station with an original 1930s ticket booth, and its famous Leslie Green tiles.
You’ll be able to enjoy – some for the very first time – the largest number of rare archive photos, objects and secret diagrams that have been brought together in one location. Through the collection you will learn of how Churchill took shelter at the height of the Blitz in the Railway Executive Committee’s bomb-proof headquarters deep underground at Down Street station.
Other incredible stories uncovered from Britain’s wartime past include that of the astounding Plessey aircraft underground factory, located in the two 2.5 mile-long tunnels on the eastern section of the Central line during the Second World War and employing 2,000 members of staff, most of whom were women.
Some abandoned tube stations have been recently reused as filming locations, and the exhibition also incorporates vintage film posters for these, such as V for Vendetta and Death Train.
Nights at the museum
A new series of museum lates, the first on 11 October, offers the chance to see the museum out of hours, when it takes on another life complete with a bar, music, talks and workshops, and special themed tours of the exhibition.
Let your hair down for ‘Night on the Tiles’ (28 February) and party like its 1999 in a disused station. Alternatively, ‘Blackout’ (22 May) aims to explore the Underground as it was used as an air-raid shelters in the Second World War.
Or if you can’t get to London quick enough, why not buy the new Hidden London book. Hidden London: Discovering the Forgotten Underground offers a fascinating insight into this lost world with detailed diagrams and photographs.
London Transport Museum is open every day 10am until 6pm, www.ltmuseum.co.uk.