The Abandoned Jubilee Line Train Graveyard at Harpur Hill, Derbyshire

abandoned-jubilee-line-trains-harpur-hill-derbyshire (Image: True British Metal; at Harpur Hill sit the remains of abandoned trains from the London Underground)

On the bleak moors high above the Victorian spa town of Buxton lies Harpur Hill, a remote and eerie spot once used by the British military as a munitions store, and now the domain of abandoned trains and derelict railway locomotives.

abandoned-jubilee-line-trains-harpur-hill-derbyshire-2 (Image: True British Metal; the abandoned Tube trains once ferried passengers along the capital’s Jubilee Line)

During World War Two, a series of underground tunnels were carved into the limestone plateau for the storage of highly-explosive munitions and ordnance. Its isolated location between the major industrial cities of Sheffield and Manchester made Harpur Hill an ideal bomb store, and even today this wild and rugged landscape retains a distinctly military atmosphere.

abandoned-jubilee-line-trains-harpur-hill-derbyshire-3 (Image: True British Metal; they now stand in the open amid the bleak test laboratory at Harpur Hill, Derbyshire)

When the RAF pulled out of Harpur Hill after the war, the abandoned munitions tunnels and ordnance bunkers were sold off and repurposed as a mushroom farm. Since then a number of businesses have occupied the site, part of which is also used by the Health and Safety laboratory for the destruction testing of defunct rolling stock.

abandoned-jubilee-line-trains-harpur-hill-derbyshire-4 (Image: True British Metal; once a military munitions store, Harpur Hill is now used by the Health and Safety laboratory)

It’s with that purpose in mind that these abandoned 1983 Jubilee Line trains came to be in the rather incongruous setting of Harpur Hill, some 150 miles north of their former home on the London Underground network. But the reason for their relocation to the most remote corners of the Derbyshire Peak District are in fact rather sinister.

abandoned-jubilee-line-trains-harpur-hill-derbyshire-5 (Image: True British Metal; the defunct rolling stock was used for explosives testing after the 7/7 bombings in London)

As Urban Ghosts writer Morris M reported: “A short railway leads between two compact tunnels, along which rest old London Underground trains, their windows scuffed and their sides covered with graffiti. Some are badly-damaged. Some are falling apart. All have been used for some disquieting experiments.

“One of the lab’s remits in previous years has been to test and reconstruct explosions such as those that devastated London during the 7/7 bombings. Accordingly, the old stock has often been damaged by controlled explosions, in a quest to learn more about that fateful day.”

abandoned-jubilee-line-trains-harpur-hill-derbyshire-6 (Image: True British Metal; destruction testing was carried out inside tunnels like those deep beneath London)

It’s unclear whether this melancholy graveyard of abandoned Tube trains still serves a purpose. Or whether the old stock is now completely redundant, quietly rusting away on its silent test track.

abandoned-jubilee-line-trains-harpur-hill-derbyshire-7 (Image: True British Metal; rusting and vandalised, the abandoned Tube trains now stand idle)

This haunting series of photographs by True British Metal suggests that, whatever their reason for being, the Health and Safety laboratory seems to have been in little hurry to dispose of the abandoned trains. In a place as remote and lonely as the windswept Harpur Hill, such machines could stand idle for years before the powers that be decide to remove them.

abandoned-jubilee-line-trains-harpur-hill-derbyshire-8 (Image: True British Metal; whether scrapping or further testing, the abandoned trains silently await their fate)

Related – Exploring the Train Graveyard at Healey Mills, West Yorkshire


About the author: Tom





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