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Five things we learned down in the disused Underground tunnels at Euston

By
James FitzGerald
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We’d always thought Euston Station was just a classic piece of ‘60s brutalist architecture. But hang on - what’s this dilapidated building on the corner of Drummond and Melton Streets? Turns out it’s the old tube entrance, closed over 100 years ago.

One Friday lunchtime, we had little look round. And down in that disused tunnel network, we learned there’s way more to this place than meets the eye.  

Don’t wear cream

It’s the first lesson of these London Transport Museum-organised tours – and one expensively dressed woman in the group learned it the hard way. There’s a whole maze of disused tunnels down at Euston, and it’s no surprise that decades’ worth of dirt and dust have piled up. But there probably isn’t a dry cleaners in London that knows what that treacly filth consists of, or how to get it off your coat.  

It’s an absolute time capsule

The flip-side of everything having remained untouched for so long is that loads of history has been incredibly well-preserved. You can tell when this tunnel was sealed off just from the adverts on the walls: it happened in 1962, when Londoners were watching these things at the cinema and theatre:

The tube has come a heck of a long way (and we don’t mean from Morden)

Pretty much every rush hour, you’d be forgiven for thinking the London Underground is an antiquated system destined to just fall apart one day. But on the Euston tour, we realised TfL have introduced a lot of modern innovations we can be thankful for. Like the simple tap-in system. Once upon a time, you’d have had to queue at a ticket booth like this if you wanted to switch lines. Imagine everyone at Bank doing that on a Monday morning.

TfL

And it could be way hotter

Summertime temperatures on the Underground are more barmy than balmy. But our tour guides showed us the lengths that engineers have gone to in order to keep the tube system ventilated. When trains breeze into a station, the air actually blows up to the surface via massive, purpose-built wind tunnels. Which brings us to our second sartorial tip for a disused tube station tour: ladies, avoid those billowy dresses…  

The old lift shafts are certainly put to good use.

Look out for spooky flashes

Those wind tunnels run above the platforms – so all of a sudden our tour group finds itself on a gangway looking down on a Victoria line train to Brixton. Flash photography is banned here as it risks freaking out passengers down below. So next time you’re waiting for a train, gaze up through the rafters in the ceiling – you never know who’s looking back at you!

Find out more about the London Transport Museum’s tours.

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