|A Sunday just before lockdown began: even the public areas were quiet!|
A busy station in the heart of the City of London, with tube and railway lines, is hardly a secret. However, behind the public areas, there are indeed secrets to be found.
Moorgate is one of the older London Underground stations: it opened in 1865, two years after the very first Underground services began. In 1900, the City & South London line from Stockwell extended to Moorgate (known as Moorgate Street until 1924), because its former terminus at King William Street could no longer cope with the volume of passengers. The line would go on to be extended to Angel, and eventually became the much longer Northern Line of today.
The Great Northern & City mainline rail line from Finsbury Park opened at the start of the twentieth century. Despite ambitious plans to link it into other parts of the network, it remained fairly isolated. Only in the 1970s was it connected to the main line north; services now run to Hertford and beyond.
The station would continue to be altered and refurbished in the century or so since. The result: hidden and disused tunnels, traces of old decoration and advertising, and the relics of previous projects.
Perhaps the most extraordinary survivor, unique in the London Underground system, is an entire Greathead shield still in place. The Greathead shield is a type of tunnelling shield, providing temporary support while the next section of a tunnel is dug. Civil engineer James Henry Greathead's innovation was to build a cylindrical shield, where earlier ones had been rectangular. This one was left here in 1902 when plans to extend the tunnel were abandoned. Turn in the other direction, and the current platform and buffers stretch out ahead.
Faded signage is painted on neglected corridor walls; although the odd touch of graffiti has been added.
A lift shaft, out of service since 1922, is now empty and used for ventilation. The disused tunnel leading to it has traces of old decor.
Long out of use, a former pedestrian subway still bears the remnants of a few advertising posters. Even Lifebuoy couldn't keep this face clean!
After the end of our tour, a peep through the barrier showed that Moorgate station hasn't finished changing just yet.
I visited the usually out-of-bounds parts of Moorgate station on a Hidden London tour by London Transport Museum.