Thursday 21 July 2016

Ghost platforms

On the long list of reminders that you're getting older, realising that your former commute has become a site of historical interest must rank quite highly! So it was slightly odd to visit the 'ghost platforms' of Charing Cross Underground Station. 

When the Jubilee Line was extended, it diverted from its former terminus at Charing Cross to new stations at Westminster and beyond. The now-disused tunnels and platforms were closed to passengers after twenty years - having opened in 1979, two years after the Queen's jubilee it was named for, the line gained its extension in 1999 just in time to take visitors to the Millennium Dome. Apt, since the 'Fleet Line' had originally been intended to serve south-east London when it was first proposed in 1965 (albeit on a different route via New Cross). 

Unlike the abandoned tunnels at Euston Station, these have lost their advertising. The 'British Rail' signage still strikes a period note, though. 

Adverts are still present on the platform, but they pose a puzzle. Intriguingly, Art of Lies is a film which does not exist, featuring invented people. London Zoo's Tiger Territory is real, but only opened 14 years after the platforms closed. Perhaps these posters are a relic of filming at the station? (It has been used for Spooks, Skyfall, and 28 Weeks Later amongst others.)

Commuters are notably absent, though, giving a post-apocalypic ambience. 

The platforms had been opened as part of the ICA's Art Night, a new festival held at the beginning of this month. Koo Jeong A, a Korean artist living in London, creates site-specific installations using smells and light: perfect for this location. Other artists' work was showcased in empty brutalist buildings, Covent Garden market, and Admiralty Arch. With the ICA's selection of interesting venues to complement the art, this was an enjoyable evening: let's hope they hold it again next year. But which places would we put on our venue wish-list?


Ralph Hancock said...

Skyfall made a complete mess of the Underground scenes, as the director didn't know the difference between the Underground and the Tube, and square trains were running in round tunnels. It was very jarring to a Londoner's eye.

CarolineLD said...

I haven't seen Skyfall: probably just as well, that would really annoy me.