Special Post: Aldwych

An account of the now closed Aldwych branch of the Piccadilly line.


This is the third post in a series I have recently started on this blog, covering London station by station. the first one on South Kensington fared well, but the real encouragement came from the second on Tooting Bec, which I had not had any expectations for, but which attracted several likes (more than the place itself ever has then!). Therefore I am making my most ambitious effort of the series so far…


Aldwych, on a side branch of the Piccadilly line, south from Holborn, opened in 1907 and closed in 1994. By the end of its life this single track single stop branch had become very run down indeed (I travelled it not long before it closed). The problem was that the station did not serve anywhere the could not be reached conveniently from other stations, and since it ran as a shuttle service between Holborn and Aldwych (although there was a track link to the northbound Piccadilly to Cockfosters).

In the terms set for themselves by the people who made the decision to close this branch for good it had to be done. My argument is that those terms were wrong, viewing it only in terms of what was already there.

Although not especially useful itself, Aldwych could have been made to serve as a starting point because it was very well positioned for an extension into the poorly served areas of South East London and West Kent. This is the failure I refer to in my title: a failure of imagination, a failure to see potential.

Rather than swing the axe, Aldwych could have been changed from being a largely functionless endpoint to being the start point for new development.

Since it does not feature on current London Underground maps, having been closed since 1994, I take the opportunity to share Douglas Rose’s London Underground: A Diagrammatic History, with a shot focussing close in on the Aldwych branch…


The full map, spread out.
The full map, spread out.
The key area.
The key area.

I hope you have enjoyed this post, and I ecnourage you to share it widely.

Author: Thomas

I am branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk and #actuallyautistic (diagnosed 10 years ago at the comparatively advanced age of 31). I am a keen photographer, so that most of my own posts contain photos. I am a keen cricket fan and often write about that subject. I also focus a lot on politics and on nature.

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