Barely noticed by the people who use it, sitting directly above Highgate tube station is an entire abandoned railway station, now slowly being reclaimed by nature.

Opened 150 years ago this month, long before the tube arrived, as part of the Great Northern Railway’s line between Finsbury Park and Edgware stations, this is the former Highgate railway station.

The area the line runs through is very hilly, and indeed, if you look at the railways from Euston or Kings Cross, they run to the east and west of the area to avoid the area.

So it wasn’t until the 1860s that an attempt was made to run a railway through the middle, and it’s characterised by deep cuttings and numerous tunnels. Highgate station itself was lain into one of these deep cuttings, which has probably irked everyone since as there’s a very steep slope to get down to the station.

It opened on 22nd August 1867 with two platforms and a reversing track in the middle, but within a couple of decades, this was torn up and replaced with a single central platform and tracks on either side.

What made the station potentially much more important than it is today is how it should have been a major junction for several other lines.

A branch line ran to Alexandra Palace, and in the 1930s, it was announced that a large upgrade of the lines in North London was to take place — the Northern Heights Project.

As part of that, the Northern line, which stopped at Archway station was extended northwards, in tunnels deep under Highgate towards Finchley.

A brand new Charles Holden designed station was built, with escalators down to the tube tunnels, and a ticket hall inserted underneath the existing surface railway platforms.

However, war intervened, and then post-was austerity.

Plans to electrify the steam railway was put back repeatedly, and eventually, in 1954 the line between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace was closed, and plans to link the line northwards to Edgware were abandoned.

The Holden station plans were scaled back — for example, the escalators to the streets was supposed to be a double with a grand entrance at the top. They ended up with a single escalator and a brick shed.

The surface railway was removed, and eventually, the area was left for nature to slowly reclaim it.

What should have been a major transport junction is just an ordinary tube station, with a tanoy that keeps pronouncing it as Highgut Station.

Today the old private home next to the station, the last part of the original 150-year-old station is now owned by TfL, the platforms used to house ventilation equipment and power supplies.

The platforms extend far along here, but the surface was lifted and it’s now a woodland path for those who are permitted to walk along it.

The tunnels remain but are sealed off because they’ve become home to an endangered species — the bats.

Today you can walk much of the abandoned Northern Heights project route as the railway line was turned into a public footpath, but this abandoned station is not part of the walk.

Access to the disused station was through the Hidden London tours organised by the Transport Museum.

Some more photos

Looking down from the slope leading to the station

The roundel is modern, added for the tours

Stairs down to the tube platforms — now lead to the staff kitchen

The northern side tunnels

The old platforms, now housing equipment for the station below

The old platforms – the track has been infilled with the roof of the ticket hall below.


Be the first to know what's on in London, and the latest news published on ianVisits.

You can unsubscribe at any time from my weekly emails.

Tagged with: , ,

This website has been running now for over a decade, and while advertising revenue contributes to funding the website, it doesn't cover the costs. That is why I have set up a facility with DonorBox where you can contribute to the costs of the website and time invested in writing and research for the news articles.

It's very similar to the way The Guardian and many smaller websites are now seeking to generate an income in the face of rising costs and declining advertising.

Whether it's a one-off donation or a regular giver, every additional support goes a long way to covering the running costs of this website, and keeping you regularly topped up doses of Londony news and facts.

If you like what you read on here, then please support the website here.

Thank you

  1. Roger Iain Mason says:

    Have walked this line a couple of times, many photos taken including many of the high level platforms, brought Ciaran my then seven year old son down to London for his birthday. Its amazing that many of the cable runs are still there waiting for the electric tube stock that never arrived. Following closure of the line to passengers in 1954 the line continued to be used for freight workings and tube stock transfers to and from Highgate depot and the Northern line into the City from Finsbury park. The main reason that these extensions were abandoned were not just austerity but also the encroaching green belt.

  2. Carole Tyrrell says:

    Interesting article – You can see
    the abandoned station from the tube if you know where to look and best done in winter. There have been rumours of ghostly trains running at night.

    • Ken Stevens says:

      Hi Carole,

      The house where my then fiancee lived in a bedsit in the 1960s backed onto this line, just west of Crouch End station and mentioned at the time that she’d heard trains a couple of times in the night. Knowing that the Ally Pally branch was long defunct, I just presumed that these were some sort of service trains going to & from something or other at Highgate. I’ve just asked her again (in her upgraded status as wife of almost 50years duration) and now she’s positively spooked by the notion 😉

  3. Victoria Line says:

    Thank you for the terrific photos. For a while, I made regular trips to Highgate, but could never see more than roof of the station and a bit of the overgrown tunnel entrance.

  4. Steve Heath says:

    It should be open as part of the Park Land Walk , what a waste of open public space .

    • Ian Visits says:

      Nature also deserves a space though – and this area is a nature reserve, and shouldn’t be disturbed (too often) by the trampling of human feet.

  5. Basil Clarke says:

    I tried to investigate this abandoned station in around 1972 or 73 but was spotted by a policeman and searched, on the grounds that I was suspected of robbing a milkman, but more likely because I was young, scruffy and long-haired. Have treated the area with caution ever since.

  6. Jim Blake says:

    It really IS outrageous that the Underground extensions linking the Northern City Line (from Moorgate via Highbury)at Finsbury Park to the GNR/LNER branch to Highgate, Alexandra Palace and East Finchley were abandoned after the war when so much work had been done on them – in fact about £3M’s worth at 1939 values! The more so that places like Crouch End and Muswell Hill, which the line served, are crying out for a railway today! If anyone’s interested, I have published a book called NORTHERN WASTES detailing all of this in full. If you e-mail me on [email protected] I can give details as to how to get a copy.

  7. Max Dyson says:

    On the other side of Alexandra Palace lies the once Palace Gates Station that went through Wood Green to Seven Sisters .. .. some of this line is also a walk and can been traced on Google maps .. .. this ghost station is now earmarked for the tunnel exit/entrance for Crossrail 2 which will have an extensive terminus at New Southgate .. .. there is a lot of railway land used as sidings etc from Hornsey through to Oakleigh Park .. ..

  8. Lawrence says:

    Great pictures. I do t know if anyone is aware but this abandoned station was used in the 1988 movie ‘paper house’. I’m really interested to go check this place out with the hidden tours if they have any going this year!

Home >> News >> History