Aldwych Underground Station Tours

aldwych underground station tours

A brilliant opportunity to visit one of London’s disused underground stations…what will we find….back in 2013 my daughter and I booked ourselves onto one of the Aldwych London Underground Station tours run by the London Transport Museum …

I love the hidden aspects of London and the fact that there is a whole world beneath our feet, much of which goes unnoticed and unseen by millions of people every day.  I found this tour to be suitably informative, interesting, on the slightly spooky side and I’m sure there are a few ghosts lingering in those tunnels and on the platforms; in a word: terrific!!! 

aldwych station underground station tours
Keep It Under Your Hat!!! this is a super tour!

If you want to book for one of these tours, you’d do well to keep a close eye on their website, the tours are VERY popular and usually booked up well in advance

Deep below the streets of London lie the disused platforms and tunnels the disused Aldwych Underground Station. Usually closed to the public, London Transport Museum have arranged dates for public tours to take place.

The station was originally named Strand as it was built on the site of the Strand Theatre, but was later renamed to Aldwych meaning ‘old village’.

aldwych station underground station tours
Strand Station on Strand is one of the London Underground Stations that are closed

Aldwych is one of London’s mysterious places, holding secrets and memories of London’s forgotten life and work underground. It opened to the public in 1907 was never heavily used as originally intended and closed nearly 100 years later in 1994. The station has had a varied history; it provided shelter to Londoners during the Blitz and has been used for film shoots including Patriot Game, Mr Selfridge and Atonement.

The tours started on 7 November 2013 and involve groups of up to 40 people being escorted by volunteer tour guides into the ticket hall and then down to the platforms and inter-connecting walkways – including some that have very rarely been seen by the public.

aldwych station underground station tours
Halt…who goes there?









....roll up, roll up....and book your tickets here...
….roll up, roll up….and book your tickets here…

£25 adult (£20 concession) check for latest prices. 

Tickets must be booked in advance by booking online or calling 020 7565 7298.  Please do check their website or your ticket for their latest T&C’s. 
All tickets include a free entry to London Transport Museum to be used within one month of the stated Aldwych station tour date and 10% off items in the Covent Garden shop for up to a month after their visit (on production of a valid ticket).

Important access information

  • aldwych underground dtation tours
    this non-working lift….you can see why access would not be via this baby…

    Access to the platform is by staircase only and there is no working lift in operation. 160 stairs connect the ticket hall level to the platform level – there is no step-free access.



  • Visitors should wear sturdy shoes. Guests wearing open toe sandals, shoes or high-heels will be refused entry due to a health and safety requirements.

    aldwych underground station tours
    wear sturdy shoes… :)

I so enjoyed this fascinating look at the workings of the forgotten underground, the tunnels and passages seemingly heading off into nowhere……

aldwych station underground station tours
time to go?….this Way Out!!!

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Things to see in the area:
old entrance to Strand Station – on Strand
Two island churches:
St Mary le Strand
St Clement Danes
The Royal Courts of Justice
Somerset House
Courtauld Gallery

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Changing the Queen’s Life Guard, London

One of London’s FREE ceremonial events takes place every day at Horse Guards Parade.

changing the queens life guard london
The King’s Troop royal Horse Artillery provide The Queen’s Life Guard July 2015

Since the restoration of King Charles II in 1660, Life Guards have stood at Horse Guards which is the official entrance to St James and Buckingham Palace. Royal events take place here annually; Trooping the Colour and Beating Retreat in particular.

the kings troop royal horse artillery
Changing the Guard – The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery on duty

These events are like clockwork and you can set your watch to them – at 10:28 on weekdays and 09:28 on Sundays, the New Guard leaves Hyde Park Barracks to ride to Horse Guards Parade via Hyde Park Corner, then Constitution Hill and The Mall where they will perform the guard change ceremony aka Guard Mounting.

changing the queens life guard london
The King’s Troop royal Horse Artillery provide The Queen’s Life Guard July 2015

The ceremony lasts approx half an hour with the mounted sentries changing every hour or every half hour in very cold weather.
The Queen’s Life Guard change daily at 11:00 on weekdays and 10:00 on Sundays.

changing the queens life guard london
The King’s Troop royal Horse Artillery provide The Queen’s Life Guard July 2015

This ceremony; Changing the Queen’s Lifeguard, is not as well known as Changing the Guard that takes place at Buckingham Palace, and as a result you have smaller crowds and no railings, affording you a good view of the proceedings.

changing the queens life guard london
The King’s Troop royal Horse Artillery provide The Queen’s Life Guard July 2015

See the video here: The King’s Troops Royal Horse Artillery
At 16:00 a dismounting ceremony, known as the Four ‘O’ Clock Parade takes place within the Horse Guards building at which time the guards are inspected by an Officer after which the guards take the horses back to their stables for the night.

the kings troop royal horse artillery
on guard at the entrance to Horse Guards from Whitehall – The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery

After that, 2 dismounted sentries stand guard at the entrance till 20:00 when the gates to Horse Guards are shut and one sentry then remains on duty till 07:00 at which time the gates will re-open.
The dismounting ceremony known as the Four ‘o’ Clock Parade was started way back in 1894 when Queen Victoria found the entire guard drinking and gambling while they were meant to be on duty. As punishment she instructed that they be inspected every day for the next 100 years at 4pm by an officer. Although that deadline passed in 1994, the reigning Queen of the time, Elizabeth II, wanted the parade to continue as part of the Royal tradition.

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While you are there, why not Visit The Household Cavalry Museum

Plan your journey:
What to see in the area:
Statues and guns on the parade
St James’s Park
Churchill’s War Rooms
Whitehall and the various military statues and the Cenotaph
Banqueting House
Admiralty Arch

Albert Memorial, Kensington Gardens

The beautiful Albert Memorial, one of London’s most ornate memorials, was commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of her beloved husband Prince Albert who died in 1861 and can be found on the south side of Kensington Gardens…not too far from Kensington Palace and across the road from The Royal Albert Hall.

albert memorial kensington gardens london
the Albert Memorial just opposite the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington

Although there is no public access within the memorial’s surrounding fence, this is a must visit and is included on the 3 Days in London – Day 2 Itinerary.
Built in the Gothic Revival Style (designed by the architect George Gilbert Scott) and opened in July 1872 by Queen Victoria, the memorial features a seated statue of Albert holding the catalogue of the Great Exhibition 1851 that he inspired and helped to organise. Once blackened, now after restoration, the statue is covered in gold leaf.

albert memorial kensington gardens london
Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens

This fabulous memorial features an extraordinarily ornate ‘canopy’ or pavilion, with the central part surrounded by elaborate sculptural frieze; ‘Frieze of Parnassus’ depicting 169 individual architects, composers, musicians, painters, poets and sculptors. At the corners of the central and outer area are allegorical sculptures depicting Victorian industrial arts and sciences, and four groups that represent the continents of Africa, The Americas, Asia & Europe and include ethonographic figures and a large aimal representing each continent; a camel, a bison, an elephant & a bull.

The four pillars feature statues that represent the practical arts and sciences; Astronomy, Chemistry, Geology and Geometry and in the four niches of the canopy are statues representing Medicine, Philosophy, Physiology and Rhetoric.
Near the top of the canopy’s tower are statues that represent moral and Christian virtues; Charity, Faith, Hope, Humility, Fortitude, Justice, Prudence and Temperance. Towards the top of the tower are gilded angels, raising their arms heavenwards and right at the top is a cross covered in gold leaf.

albert memorial kensington gardens london
finer details of the gold laid mosaics

Below the cornice, split into four parts, one for each side of the canopy, is the dedicatory legend that reads: “Queen Victoria And Her People – To The Memory Of Albert Prince Consort – As A Tribute Of Their Gratitude – For A Life Devoted To The Public Good”.
The magnificent mosaics internal & external, decorating the canopy, feature the four arts; architecture, painting, poetry and sculpture, supported by historical figures of King David, Homer, Apelles, Raphael, Solomon and Ictinus, were designed by Clayton & Bell and manufactured by Salviati from Murano, Venice. The mosaics were made using various materials; polished stone, agate, onyx, cornelian, crystal, jasper, marble, granite and enamel.

Reasons to go:
Visit one of the most beautiful and elaborate memorials in London.
Stroll through the wonderful Kensington Gardens while you are there.

kensington gardens
Kensington Gardens, London

Visit the Royal Albert Hall (right across the road) and Kensington Palace; a 10 minute walk.

kensington palace and queen victoria
Kensington Palace – home to Princess Victoria who in 1837 became Queen at the age of 18

Address: Kensington Gardens (south side), Kensington Road, London. W2 2UH (this postcode is for electronic devices users, please note this is for guidance only as the gardens cover a large area).
Visiting the memorial is governed by the gardens opening hours: generally 6am – 9.30pm (earlier in winter). See all hours on their website or on the information boards at the various entrance gates:
Kensington Gardens are easily accessible by public transport and there are a number of tube stations and bus stops that surround the park. To get to the memorial:

Nearest Tube: High Street Kensington: walk to Kensington Road via Kensington High Street.
Nearest Tube: South Kensington: walk to Kensington Road via Exhibition Road.
Nearest Tube: Knightsbridge: walk along Kensington Road.
Buses: 9 or 10 and alight at Royal Albert Hall stop RL.

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Big Ben & Houses of Parliament

big ben in london
which way to go…plan your journey to see Big Ben

Probably the most immediately recognised and famous clock in the world stands on the edge of the River Thames in London; Big Ben. Although the name Big Ben is used to describe the tower, it is actually the name of the Great Bell…and the tower is known as The Elizabeth Tower (renamed in 2012 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II – 60 years on the throne).

Not the first tower to be built in Parliament’s gounds (the Palace of Westminster), the first tower was built in 1288-90 during the reign of Edward I.   A 2nd tower replaced the original in 1367, the first public chiming clock in England, but by 1707 had fallen into disrepair and demolished…a sundial was put up in it’s place. In 1834 a fire destroyed most of the Palace of Westminster. Of the 97 designs submitted, Charles Barry’s was successful although his design did not feature a clock tower – this was added in 1836.

Construction of the Clock Tower, designed in Pugin’s celebrated Gothic Revival style, by architect Charles Barry, was begun in September 1843 and completed in 1859 whilst the great clock was started on 31 May; the chimes were heard for the first time on 11 July. This is the iconic tower, we can see today; an immeditely recognisable landmark of London!

big ben in london
Big Ben and Houses of Parliament as seen from SouthBank by the London Eye

Materials for the tower came from all over the United Kingdom; cast-iron girders from Regent’s Canal Ironworks, Anston stone from Yorkshire, Cornish granite, a Birmingham foundry supplied the iron roofing plates whilst Caen stone from Normandy, France was used on the inside. Built from the inside outwards, no scaffolding was visible to the ourside world.
The foundation stone for the tower was laid on 28 September 1843.
The tower, 315 feet high (roughly 16 storeys) had it’s 150th anniversay on 31 May 2009.

There are two theories for the name Big Ben:
The Great Bell was named after St Benjamin Hall; First Commissioner for Works 1855-1858
or named after Ben Caunt, a champion heavyweight boxer of the 1850s
The first is thought to be the most likely.
Snippets about the clock:
Each dial, made from cast iron, is 7m in diameter and contains 312 seperate pieces of pot opal glass (opaque finish).
The hour figure of 4 o’clock is shown by the Roman numeral IV rather than IIII as is more commonly used on clock dials.

big ben london
The beautiful Elizabeth Tower and Clock; the bell is known as Big Ben

Under each clock dial is a Latin inscription carved in stone: “Domine Salvam fac Reginam nostrum Victoriam primam” meaning ” O Lord, save our Queen Victoria the First”
The clock’s movement is famous for it’s reliability and by adding or removing a penny will change the clock’s speed by 0.4 seconds per day.
On 10 May 1941, two of the clock’s dials, section’s of the tower’s stepped roof and a House of Commons chamber were damaged during a German bombing raid…despite the heavy bombing the clock ran accurately and chimed throughout the Blitz.
The chimes of Big Ben are immediately recognisable and used to herald the news on BBC Radio.

Although Big Ben is one of the world’s most famous of tourist attractions, the interior is only accessible to UK residents; tours can be arranged through their Member of Parliament. There is no lift and those that do visit must climb the 334 limestone stairs to the top.

Reasons to go:
Have your photograph taken in front of the most famous clock in the world.
Listen to the hourly chimes….spine-chilling!
Admire one of the most iconic buildings in the world.

And then have a look at:

Westminster Palace aka Houses of Parliament
The meeting place for the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and closely involved in the life of the nation since the 11th century, the Palace of Westminster plays a central role in the State Opening of Parliament as well as many other historical events. “Westminster”; a metonym for the United Kingdom’s Parliament and the system of governance after which it takes it’s name, the Houses of Parliament are an emblem of parliamentary democracy.

big ben and houses of parliament
The Houses of Parliament & Big Ben as seen from Albert Embankment

Perhaps one of the most iconic and well-known of all aspects of the Palace of Westminster is the Elizabeth Tower (commonly referred to as Big Ben) and Big Ben which is actually the name of the bell that chimes (more like bongs than chimes) the hours, a most recognisable sound no matter where in the world you hear it….it is apparently the most photographed clock in the world according to a report I read.

Westminster was the primary London residence of the Kings of England and the first royal palace was built on this site in the 11th century. Sadly fire destroyed much of that complex in 1512.

The Hall was built in 1097 under William II (Rufus), the son of William the Conqueror, and was completed two years later. He had conceived the project to impress his new subjects with his power and the majesty of his authority.
According to one story, when the King first inspected the Hall, one of his attendants remarked that it was much larger than needed. The King replied that the Hall was not half large enough, and that it was a mere bedchamber when compared to what he had in mind. :) Okay then!!
Address: Westminster, London SW1A 0AA
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big ben in london
Big Ben by night, a most recognisably iconic image of London

Nearest Tube: Westminster – directly opposite.

Waterloo or National Rail and then a short walk or St James’s and a short walk.

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A belated Happy New Year

Hello all!! :) A belated Happy New Year to you all…..I seriously do not know where the days go!!! It’s already the 5th and yet I feel as if I just left the London fireworks.  I keep meaning to do a blog to wish you all the very best for 2015, and yet I get to the end of the day and it’s not done….so without further ado and before we get to 2016… :)

new year 2015
Happy New Year from London

I wish for you all a wonderful year ahead and enjoy your time in London. There are many events coming up this year, some of which I have already uploaded onto the 3DIL App.  If you haven’t yet downloaded your FREE 3 Days in London App…here are the links!

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Planning a trip to London check this link for Sunrise & Sunset times in London for 2015 and keep an eye on our twitter feed for #LondonEvents

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