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The secret history of north London’s ‘ghost’ Tube stations

South Kentish Town Underground station, Northern Line. Picture: London Transport Museum South Kentish Town Underground station, Northern Line. Picture: London Transport Museum

Saturday, January 26, 2013
12:00 PM

The 150th anniversary of the London Underground is as much a celebration of the old as it is of the new – and among the relics of the Tube’s past are a number of local disused and forgotten ‘ghost’ stations.

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Marlborough Road Underground station on the Metropolitan Line. Exterior view showing the building with early Metropolitan Railway signage. Picture: London Transport MuseumMarlborough Road Underground station on the Metropolitan Line. Exterior view showing the building with early Metropolitan Railway signage. Picture: London Transport Museum

They may be invisible to most busy commuters but the long abandoned South Kentish Town, North End, York Road and Marlborough Road stations, empty and no longer in use, have some fascinating stories to tell.

Closing in 1924 due to a lack of use, South Kentish Town Station, in Kentish Town Road, made a name for itself when a passenger accidently got off a train onto the disused platform while reading a newspaper, soon after its closure.

This minor incident inspired an expanded version of the story by writer Sir John Betjeman in 1951.

It told of a man who was trapped in South Kentish Town – a dark, deserted “ghost” station – and survived his ordeal by eating old posters.

North End Station in North End Road, Golders Green – also known as the Bull and Bush station – was intended as a stop between Hampstead and Golders Green on the Northern Line and can still be seen today from trains.

It is unique in the fact that it is a closed Underground station that never opened.

Originally planned to be the deepest station on the whole Underground network, work was stopped in 1906 because it was not financially viable.

Former curator and research fellow for the London Transport Museum, Oliver Green, 61, said: “People are fascinated about disused Underground stations. All sorts of myths grow up about disused stations that add to their mystery.

“For instance, people believed that North End was going to be used as a bunker in the nuclear period, which was never the case.”

Former editor of The London Railway Record and London railway historian, James Connor, said of disused stations: “When you’re travelling on the Underground and you’re staring into the black void of the tunnel, suddenly you see something which is not the tunnel. There is an air of mystery about it.”

York Road Station on the Piccadilly Line is at the junction of Bingfield Street and York Road near King’s Cross.

It closed in 1932 as it was underused. When the station opened in 1906 it was located in such a poor area that people did not use it much.

Marlborough Road Station, originally opened by the Metropolitan Railway, closed completely in 1939 when, in an effort to speed up train services, it was shut and replaced by the present St John’s Wood Station.

The old station can still be seen on the corner of Finchley Road and Queen’s Grove in St John’s Wood.

Marianne Colloms, 64, author of Kentish Town, Then And Now, who lives in Hampstead Village, said disused Tube stations hold a fascination.

“It’s the enigma of a Tube station but no passengers,” she said. “Could it re-open? What was inside?”

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