An exhibition where visitors will get the chance to experience an ‘abandoned’ Tube station underworld and discover what secrets lurk beneath our busy streets is opening at the London Transport Museum.
Hidden London – The Exhibition will take people on an immersive journey of some of London’s most secret spaces belonging to the oldest subterranean railway in the world.
These ‘forgotten’ parts of the Tube network have incredible stories to tell about Britain’s wartime past such as the Plessey aircraft underground factory which had 2,000 members of staff, mostly women, working in the two 2.5 mile-long tunnels on the eastern section of the Central line during the Second World War.
Visitors will be able to discover how Winston Churchill took refuge in the Railway Executive Committee’s bomb-proof headquarters deep underground at Down Street station in Mayfair.
London Transport Museum has recreated the dining-room used by Britain’s great wartime leader with replica tables, chairs, wine bottles, menu cards and ashtrays like those Churchill would have used.
Some objects will be on public display for the first time such as a 1939 architectural drawing of Down Street station before it was converted into a secret bunker.
It is the first time such a large number of archive photographs, objects, artworks, diagrams and heritage posters relating to disused stations have been displayed together.
The exhibition uncovers why these ‘lost’ quirks of the Underground network exist; changes in population, new and expanding Underground lines resulted in lower passenger numbers at certain stations such as Aldwych, economic priorities and political pressures have all led to spaces being abandoned.
Chris Nix, assistant director for collections and engagement at London Transport Museum, said: “Visitors will love being transported to our recreated secret station subterranean world.
“People will be able to step in to a stage set of the dining room at Down Street where Winston Churchill sought refuge at the height of the Blitz, thanks to the railway executive committee which was responsible for the bunker in the then disused station.
“For the first time we’ve brought together a large number of historic posters, archive photos and footage, secret diagrams and decorative tiles about disused spaces on the Underground – all in one place.”