At street level, South Kentish Town tube station, adorned with ox-blood red terracotta tiles, is a typical Edwardian-era Northern Line station that has long fallen into disuse. With a retail unit occupying the former ticket hall, shoppers might be surprised to learn that, deep below, trains still hurtle through the abandoned station, the remains of which are momentarily visible to passengers travelling between Camden Town and East Finchley.
The London Underground’s South Kentish Town tube station opened on June 22, 1907 as part of the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway‘s (CCE&HR) branch to Highgate (now Archway). Originally known as Castle Road, the station was renamed South Kentish Town shortly before opening. The original name – which was simply painted over – remained fired into the glazed tile facade.
The last train officially stopped at South Kentish Town on the morning of June 5, 1924, when workers at the Lots Road power station went on strike. After power had been restored it was decided not to reopen the station due to low passenger numbers.
Used as an air raid shelter during World War Two, the abandoned station – devoid of platforms – now serves as an emergency evacuation point for passenger services and enables maintenance workers to access the subterranean network. Proposals to rebuild the platforms as part of redevelopment plans for Camden Town station have so far not been realised.
Today, South Kentish Town station is a spooky labyrinth of tunnels, steps, defunct lift shafts and lonely passageways. It inspired an eponymous 1951 story by John Betjeman, concerning a passenger who became trapped in the disused subway. Based on a real incident in which a train accidentally stopped and opened its doors, no-one in reality alighted, although passengers were afforded a glimpse of the silent station ordinarily off-limits to the public.
Keep reading – explore these incredible ghost stations, abandoned subways and rapid transit systems, or venture into Holborn’s deserted tramway station.