London has many disused tube stations, but also a lot of tube stations that never existed, other than as celluloid imaginations — these are the fictional tube stations that have graced TV and film.
Features in the 1960 British thriller film, Piccadilly Third Stop about an attempt to rob a foreign embassy in London. The tube station’s role is that it sat underneath the embassy, so the robbers try to access it from the underground.
Dr Who fans might like that the safecracker is one William Hartnell.
There is a Blackwall station on the tube map — but that’s a DLR station, this is about the tube station that appears in the ITV series, London’s Burning.
The TV series was set in the Blackwall area of East London, but there’s no tube line, or station in the area. In fact, the TV episode (series 4) includes a fictional tube line as well — the Thames line.
Found in the 1935 crime film, Bulldog Jack. The tube station is a major feature in the climax as a chase through a runaway train on the London Underground, and apart from the fictional station shown, a lot of other fictional tube stations are mentioned on the maps in the background.
Bloomsbury Station appears on a tube map in the background, and can be seen to be roughly where Holborn is today, although another fictional station, High Holborn then appears on the map nearer to Chancery Lane.
The line featured is the Central line, and some of the other stations shown on the line map are close to the ones that would later be built when the Central line was extended.
Now before you get hot under the collar, this is a fictional tube station, not the real London Overground station. The film is The Gentle Gunman, an Ealing studios production staring, oddly, John Mills and Dirk Bogarde as two IRA terrorists hiding in London during WW2.
The tube station is one that is attacked by Dirk Bogarde on an evening when people are sheltering from the Blitz, but the John Mills character is filled with a moral qualm and grabs the suitcase and throws into the tube tunnel before it explodes.
If you look carefully, you can see that a lot of the scenes appear to be a real tube station used for filming, which, considering the topic, would be less likely to happen today.
Footage of the outside of the station, actually South Wimbledon, was later reused in the 1969 ITV television programme Strange Report episode, Let Sleeping Heroes Lie.
This station appeared in the Channel5 soap opera, Family Affairs that ran from 1997 to 2005. It was originally set in a quiet suburb, but with falling viewing numbers was revamped and a new opening credits featured a tube trip to Charnham Station.
The station featured in the opening titles was actually Northolt, and some of the show filming was done locally.
This is a fictional station that never appears in the film which was famous for being advertised with an image of a tube train. The film, Shaun of the Dead as shown in the cinemas never makes a direct reference to the tube though.
Its mysterious identity was finally revealed in some DVD extras from footage that was left on the cutting floor, including a closed tube station, and in the background of some scenes, the platform roundels showing the station’s location.
Of interest is that there was going to be a Crouch End station, as part of the Northern Heights project which was abandoned in post-war austerity. So the fictional station was very nearly a real one.
According to the lead actor, Simon Pegg, the fake tube roundel is now in his home.
Duchess Street Station
This station makes a brief appearance in the 1932 British musical comedy, Love on Wheels, which paradoxically was based on the life of a bus commuter who enlists the help of the bus conductor to pursue a lady he has romantic inclinations.
That tube station only appears twice, once in the background as the bus goes past, but later there is a scene as the bus conductor walks the object of affection up the stairs from the ticket hall. The exterior of the station is clearly a Charles Holden designed station, although apparently a mock-up at Gainsborough Studios’ Islington stage set, not a real station.
Elsware & High Road
A mock-up of two tube stations used for a TV advert to sell, of all things on a railway… a car. In the advert, a family are waiting at the platform, when a driverless car arrives on the railway. They get in and drive off down the tunnel, arriving at High Road station, where they drive up the stairs and out of the tube station.
This station appeared in the 4th series of the political satire, The New Statesman, episode “Waste Not Want Not”, but is not the same as the current London Overground station of the same name, which was disused at the time the TV show was made in 1987.
The TV show includes it as an abandoned sub-surface line station, next to an operational line which can be heard in the background. The lead character is clearly unfamiliar with public transport, and falls off the platform onto the railway tracks.
This Piccadilly line station appears in a WW2 film of the same name stating Harrison Ford. It’s therefore a bit of a surprise that the station is plays only a small part in the story.
In the film, Margaret Sellinger emerges from “Hanover Street” tube station. However, as the real Hanover Street is just south of Oxford Street, it wouldn’t have been possible for the Picadilly line to have been there.
Despite its realistic appearance, the entire street was actually built of wood, on the film set at Elstree Studios.
The tube station appears in the LWT series, Poirot, based on the Agatha Christie’s detective stories, with an old tube train pulling into a station — looks like the old Wood Lane station, and then the characters leaving via a mock-up station entrance.
The climax of the TV show also involves a chase around the station.
Probably the most famous of the fictional tube stations, appearing in Quatermass and the Pit. It was, if you follow the plotline, built in Knightsbridge in 1927 in the TV show, probably for the Piccadilly line, but then for the film moved to W10 and was being upgraded for the Central line extension.
Such is its fame, that it crops up as a station in London Underground’s training centre for its new tube train drivers.
A tube station that appears in a 1998 music video by the UK rock band Feeder. The music video was filmed at Monument tube station, and tube roundels with Feeder are overlaid on the existing roundels. They didn’t change the strip bar at the top though, which clearly says this is Monument tube station.
Lewisham, Ladywell, Edge of the World & Catford
All four fictional tube stations appear fleetingly in a little remembered LWT comedy series, End of Part One which aired in 1979/80.
The second episode of the Pythonesque comedy has the two main characters watching a film called “The Life of Christopher Columbus”, in which Columbus goes to a tube station and asks for a train to America, but is told he can only go as far as Catford.
Part of a tube map is shown, with fictitious tube stations Lewisham, Ladywell, Edge of the World and Catford on the East London Section of the Metropolitan Line south from New Cross tube station.
A blink and you’ll miss it fleeting appearance in a music video for Beautiful Ones by Suede is this tube station’s momentary existence. It’s not explicitly stated to be a tube station, but is in fact a key phrase in the song, and was one of a number of object that were mocked up to match the song lyrics.
Another fictitious station from the Agatha Christie TV series, Poirot. This time the 1991 episode, Wasps’ Nest. The station appears right at the start of the story, although just the ticket hall and an exterior shot.
The very period appropriate Arnos Grove station stood in for its fictional counterpart.
Not the British Museum, which is a real, but closed down station, but just plain Museum. It appeared in the tube-themed horror movie Death Line in 1972.
The plot being that a the last survivor of the cannibal decedents of Victorian railway workers who were buried alive during construction of the early railways is now terorrising the modern underground. Donald Pleasence plays the police inspector sent in to investigate the murders.
This station appears in the dramatic climax to David Lean’s 1949 romantic film, The Passionate Friends. Following a breakdown in her marriage, the lead character Mary contemplates suicide in the tube station, only to be grabbed by her husband at the last moment, for a reconciliation.
Based on the train indicators and careful studying of the unchanged signs on the walls, this appears to have been Bank tube station – with the westbound Central line reused for the movie. Considering the sensitivity about suicide on the tube network, it’s unlikely that London Underground would let their stations be used for this sort of scene in a movie again.
Queen’s Arcade Station
The Queen’s Arcade tube station appears in the background in the very first episode of the revival of the modern Doctor Who TV series.
The tube station is never actually named, but is presumed to be inside the Queen’s Arcade shopping centre (which actually exists, but in Cardiff), as there is a London Underground roundel by the entrance.
It’s worth noting that the placement of the roundel would not fit with normal London Underground standards for indicating the presence of a tube station. Also, if you look closely, it’s an old fashioned style roundel.
Interestingly, the episode was due to have been directed by Edgar Wright, but he was busy working on Shaun of the Dead, which also features a fictional tube station.
This rural tube station on the Metropolitan line beyond Amersham appears in the BBC comedy TV series, Harry & Paul, which spoofs the house buying TV shows with a couple looking to buy a home, but complaining it’s too far from a tube station.
Two obliging builders then convert their home into a tube station, complete with roundel and mind-the-gap warnings.
Sumatra Road Station
This is the built, but never opened tube station underneath Parliament in Westminster that was to be used to launch a terrorist attack in the first episode of the third series of the British TV drama, Sherlock.
The station featured is the very real, but disused Aldwych station, which often appears in shows and films.
The story of a built but never opened tube station was also based in part on fact, as North End station was built and never opened on the Northern line under Hampstead Heath. The station name, Sumatra Road is a reference to the ‘Giant Rat of Sumatra’, which is mentioned in ‘The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire’, one of the original stories.
Incidentally, the district line train that features in the scene not only wouldn’t have fitted into the tunnels, but is actually a rather realistic looking stage mock-up.
This is the fictional tube station set theoretically near Wapping in the long running ITV drama, The Bill, and it appeared several times over the years.
The actual station used was Aldwych.
The Union Street tube station features in the 2008 film, The Escapist, and was filmed in the disused tram tunnels under Holborn. A fake tube map was produced to go on the walls, suggesting that the tube station is on the Northern line between Borough and Elephant & Castle, close to the position of London’s real Union Street
This fictional tube station is claimed to be on a disused spur off the Piccadilly line — similar to the real spur at Aldwych — and runs close to the MI6 headquarters in Vauxhall.
It appears in the James Bond movie, Die Another Day, and, as with Aldwych, appears to be a very short shuttle service type station barely able to hold two tube train carriages. Oddly though, the tube map which can be seen in the background seems to imply it’s a station that could have been reached without changing platforms at Hyde Park, where the spur is thought to run from.
The station shown in the film is totally fake though, being a film studio set, with the London Transport Museum assisting with the set decoration.
A long standing set within the BBC TV soap opera Eastenders, and stands in for Bromley-by-Bow on the EastEnders tube map.
As with many District line style stations, it’s a street level ticket hall, with stairs up to platforms next to a railway bridge over the main road. The station building set is on the Eastenders film studio, while occasional filming on the platforms takes place at East Finchley station.
Another station, Walford West has on occasions been mentioned in the show, but never seen.
This station appears in the BBC spy drama, Spooks, as a station underneath the Saudi Arabian trade embassy. It’s used as an access point to get into the embassy to rescue hostages who are being held there.
The tube roundel appears very fleetingly in the scene and apart from that there no obvious tube references in the setting.
This is a bomb-damaged disused station that appears in the climax to the 1953 British drama film, The Yellow Balloon, which tells the story of a child who is drawn into a criminal life after being tricked by a conman. After a number of adventures, the conman tries to kill the child, who is chased around the tube station – in this case, the real Queensway station for the platform scenes, and a studio set for the rest.
He is rescued when a passing train driver notices the kid on the empty platform.
The film was notable for being given the new Adults only X certificate because of the scary chase scenes in the tube station, which mean the child-actor was too young to see the film he starred in. The film classification was later lowered.
This tube station appeared in the 1936 film Man in the Mirror, where a mild-mannered man looks into a mirror and is transformed into a man with new found confidence. Alastair Sim plays a cameo as a foreign interpreter.
The tube station was a stage set construction.
This station appears in the Doctor Who episode, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, in the second series of the long running show. It was also the first episode to make extensive use of outdoor filming in London, leading to the iconic image of Daleks on Westminster Bridge.
The tube station in this case was the very conveniently located and disused Wood Lane station, which is just down the road from the BBC’s Lime Grove studios in Shepherds Bush.
In the plot, it is located in the very real area also known as World’s End, in Chelsea.
Other notable mentions…
The Docklands Light Railway
While digging an extension for the Docklands Light Railway, a child is let down into the tunnels, with a shocking lack of protective clothing. The dragons, in Reign of Fire, understandably furious at such safety breaches decided to unleash their wrath on foolish mankind.
The mention of the DLR is brief, in the opening credits, otherwise the tunnels could have been anywhere. When the heroes return to London to kill the main dragon, look for a burnt out tube train next to the tunnel entrance for the DLR.
An appropriate name for a tube station made from Lego bricks, and can be found at Lego Land Windsor.
Buckingham Palace tube station
The long running rumours of a private escape tube line running under Buckingham Palace wont go away, and aren’t helped by a photo of Her Maj holding a mocked-up tube sign.
Museum of London
It’s an unnamed station (as far as I can tell), but there’s a working model of a London Underground train and station in the Modern London, People’s City gallery on the lower floor of the Museum of London, next to the telephone kiosk.
This is a mock up of a Holden style tube station that can be seen at DisneyLand Paris, which is itself a mock-up of the Hollywood studio tours that show people around their stage sets. The use of this design for the Reign of Fire section is doubly-strange as the film references the DLR, not the London Underground.
This is a mock-up tube station built on the 3rd floor of an office block in West London, as a training centre for new London Underground recruits. It comes with all the toys you’d expect on a tube station, and even a fan blows when a train “arrives” to simulate the effect.