The search for abandoned London Underground lines and stations can take you all over London. You can find yourself in long-lost tunnels under the major stations of King’s Cross or Charing Cross, or way out in the countryside at some tiny station miles from London.
They turn up in all sorts of unexpected places. But imagine my surprise when I discovered that one lost station, abandoned since 1935, was actually standing in plain sight right on my doorstep in South Harrow.
It’s the kind of building people have probably walked past time and time again, without knowing what it is, but back in the day it was part of a brave new attempt to bring the Tube way out West. The station has a very long history. It was in fact opened in June 1903 when the District Line extended its London routes originating at Mansion House out to a station at Park Royal & Twyford Abbey. This station near the remains of what was once the manor house of Twyford Abbey was designed to serve the annual Royal Agricultural showgrounds which had opened at Park Royal.
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Here farmers came to show of their best animals and produce. South Harrow was the terminus station of this new line. The extension to South Harrow was also the first part of the London Underground surface lines to use electric trains rather than steam. But despite this the showgrounds closed after a few years as they proved unsuccessful.
But progress was unstoppable and the demand for new rail lines was high. In March 1910, the District Railway was extended again to meet the Metropolitan Railway tracks at Rayners Lane. From there trains would run all the way out to Uxbridge. North of South Harrow station the line crosses the Roxeth Marsh, and the viaduct over it between South Harrow and Rayners Lane was an engineering marvel back in the day.
More was to follow. In 1932 the Piccadilly line was extended to run west of its original terminus at Hammersmith out to Ealing Common. From Ealing Common to South Harrow, the District line was now replaced by the Piccadilly line. From South Harrow north, the District Line service continued to operate all the way to Uxbridge but in October 1933 the Piccadilly Line took over this line as well.
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So in 1935, a brand new station was opened at South Harrow to serve the Piccadilly Line. It was situated just 170 metres to the north of the previous station and was built to serve Northolt Road. It’s the same busy station that’s in use to this day. But tucked away around the corner the old station remains, stood unassumingly in the car park on the north side of the tracks. It is today used as office space for drivers they can use after taking trains into the sidings at South Harrow.
It therefore continues to serve a vital function on the London Underground. But how many people who use South Harrow station day in day out know this abandoned relic still exists in plain sight just around the corner?
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