A mysterious underground world awaits visitors at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. Tales of long-forgotten and lost stations, miles of hidden tunnels and quirky facts such as to why underground distances are always measured from Ongar make this new exhibition on Hidden London unmissable for guests staying at Best Western hotels in London!
The London Underground was the very first such railway to open anywhere in the world. Engines belched out smoke leaving clothing covered in grime as the trains shot through the tunnels. Seats were hard and uncomfortable. As the number of lines grew, so the service becomes more customer-friendly especially once the lines were electrified.
Looking around the exhibition, you cannot help but spare a thought for the sheer hard work involved in building the underground system. It involved thousands upon thousands of hours digging deep trenches around the city, placing the lines and then covering the tunnels over and rebuilding on top.
Equally unexpected is the sheer number of stations that still exist but are closed and forgotten nowadays. Some can be glimpsed as you travel around the streets of London, the most well known being the entrance to Aldwych in the Strand. Others are virtually inaccessible and were open only for a short time. Bank Station is one of the busiest on the network – yet only a short distance away on King William Street there used to be another station. The King William station didn’t last long due to an engineering problem – the platforms had been constructed incorrectly and it was felt easier to simply close it.
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The story of how the underground stations were used to shelter Londoners during the Blitz is well known – but how many people know about the activities of Down Street Station in Mayfair. This became one of the most secretive stations on the underground as it was turned into a very secret bunker for military operations which included a telephone exchange.
The recreation of Down Street Station as part of the exhibition includes lots of hands-on activities enabling you to try working as a telephone operator in the exchange.
Photographs and other rare documents reveal glimpses into this forgotten world, hidden from view as you dash from station to station on your way around London.
Hidden London is at the London Transport Museum between October 11, 2019 – January 2020. So, it’s a good idea to book any of the hotels near Wembley Arena with parking in advance to get the best rates.