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GES153 - Southwark C&SLR

The London Tube system is ridiculously hard to enter and explore in places, mainly a far jog from a portal. Unlike other metro systems, London's has a cctv camera approximately every 5mm. So doing anything untoward is very hard, from pickpocketing (for those who enjoy this pursuit, not me I should point out) to platform jumping. Every now and again one get's lucky, and somewhere previously thought unpenetrable becomes available as an access point. In this case the demolition of 3 Castles House for a new building project temporarily gave access to the vent shaft that sits below it. And so after a reccie by GE077, we turned up again to the site. Builders were working through the night on the new sky rising office block just behind it. However we figured they wouldn't pay much attention to the building we were going to enter in.

Civilised access wasn't going to be possible due to one of those ever present cctv cameras, so we had to make use of my brilliant homemade rope ladder. Attaching it to scaff across the top of the vent shaft, we descended down the vent to the first level. It was then through a door into the next bit of the vent. It was to be like this all the way down, crossing back and forth, going in and out of sections to reach the next. The door into where we were stood for this picture is on the right on the raised area behind the bars. Through the vent slats was the area we climbed down into. The ladder in the foreground beckoned us to continue down the shaft.

Here you can see down several layers of the vent. The actual vent pipe can be seen roughly in the centre of the picture below, as it goes up to the point where we ascended, here it opens to the heavens.

Further down the shaft, the actual vent is on the left edge of the pic.

At the penultimate level of the shaft, a bricked up or unfinished tunnel leads off in one direction.

Behind the camera in the above shot is the vent slats on the left in this pic below. The smell of tube grew stronger as we progressed into the tunnel we were currently in.

A 180 degree swivel shot from above, and a pipe ninja rocking this seasons explorer fashions. The hat is a gift from the Za Gringo range, the jacket is made of finest pir avoiding stealth material, resistant to razor wire, and exclusive only to TK Maxx. The stylishly faded jeans can be picked up for a wallet expanding £5.99 at your nearest Primark, the person who did the seems probably drives a Merc to work, and rocks a Rolex. Probably. The boots for a true blue patriot, come from the finest army in the world, and worn by someone, somewhere, in some battle or something. Probably just cooking bangers and mash for the TA in Solihull. The face obscuring snood, so that no one will ever know who you are, not even like, your mum, who shot you from her womb an 'ting. Is in this seasons ever popular camouflage for that really stealthy look in sooty black tube tunnels. The pipe is the model's own. Probably best not to mention that.

Just where the tunnel bends in the pic above, a few steps lead up to an offshoot passage up to the white door. Possibly Jubilee line, it was alarmed, so we didn't touch it.

The metal stairs from the above shot are just visible at the top of the stair shaft here. The steps drop down to a lower level and the old C&SL tunnels that once run North under the Thames. The smell here was mostly of the stagnant variety, fresh air being somewhat of a luxury down here.

The exit on the immediate right of the picture merely curves around to join the second exit on the right. The stairs in the above picture exit from the second exit. Directly across from the 2nd exit, is an exit on the left that goes into the parallel tunnel. The tunnel runs down towards the Thames. All along in the tunnel sides and in the floor are small vents. For simplicity I'll refer to this tunnel as Tunnel B.

Directly across from the end of the stairs tunnel, is the parallel tunnel to Tunnel B in the pic above. For some reason it's been concreted up to half height. I'll refer to this here on out as Tunnel A.

Progressing up Tunnel B, the holes in the floor are directly over the Northern Line below, one can see platforms and posters, as well as track. We could also hear the cleaners, which is why we tiptoed along, quite literally.

Back in Tunnel A, this section goes along to the Thames plug. On the left can be seen one of the many side vents. I've never seen somewhere with so much ventage. As you can see on the floor, not many people come along here. Before GE077 and I walked along it, there were only one set of footprints in the deep tube dust (Like Fairy Dust, but much much nastier and has only the magical powers of illness, possibly terminal).

The end of Tunnel A, where it joins the Thames section of the tunnel. The wall is thought to be double thickness with concrete in the middle. Pretty much impenetrable, which is would be a good thing, as the Eastern tunnel is rumoured to be flooded. Judging by the number of stalactites, this might be the flooded tunnel. Either way it's close to the Thames.

This is the end of Tunnel A, note the almost complete lack of stalactites. Again, the end of the tunnel is plugged up.

Turning around from the above shot, to look back down Tunnel A, this would be looking South.

Looking up a side vent in Tunnel A.

A raised section in Tunnel A, another side vent off to the left. Looking South. The tunnels ended in a locked and alarmed door, however we could see the tunnel continue on through the wire meshed glass of the door.

We then returned back up the staircase tunnel and into the main vent to the surface. Down two ladders, and we were at the very bottom of the vent. The dark area at the top centre of the picture, on the floor above, is the unfinished or blocked tunnel, mentioned above.

There are two exits at the bottom of the shaft, one leads down to the left, and returns one via a slope tunnel with steps to the C&SL tunnels. The passage going straight on leads to the Northern Line tracks. We set off down the path that lead ahead first, navigating a large puddle of very dark looking water, just visible at the bottom of the steps.

Having survived the small puddle of neverending doom, we trotted on down to the Northern Line running tunnels. The shot below looks back to the bottom of the vent, and the steps up to where the last pic was taken.

The tunnel ended with a mesh door onto the tracks. Due to the fact we could hear cleaners nearby, we opted not to test whether the door opened. One can reasonably clearly see the sign for the station on the platform facade.

We then backed up to the bottom of the vent, and took the left hand tunnel. It curved quickly, and then went up this slope, with the small steps.

The slope tunnel opened into Tunnel B. We hadn't progressed very far, when we heard banging noises, the kind of banging noises made by people with large hammers. We wondered what to do, and I think we were both keen to try to continue. (We came back down this passage towards the camera, a crossover exists just past the railings ahead. The door to the Jubilee line sits just past the railings on the right.)

So we nipped into tunnel A. We hadn't got far up that tunnel, when we were met with a wall and a small glassless window.  This shot looks North, and has a vent shaft down onto the Northern Line tracks. GE077 just visible among the lights down the passage. We debated whether to try the other tunnel, go back, or go through the distinctly dirty small window. As I climbed through the really dirty window, the decision appeared to have been made.

This is looking down the vent in the floor above to the Northern Line tracks.

The aforementioned small dirty window. One can see the thick layer of dirt that ended up on my jeans. I love the LU propensity to label everything. Even this wall has a code of some kind. The above floor vent barrier can be seen on the bottom left.

Once through the window, we were in the tunnel down to Borough. During the WWII it was known as the Southwark shelter.

After a fair few hundred metres, we came to the end of the tunnel A. It ended with the Northern Line passing by, and stacks of track supports. Not clear in the photos is a wire mesh, preventing us from continuing further. We walked back, and at the first crossover, we attempted to go to the end of the Tunnel B. However we heard the banging noises we'd heard earlier. A 100m or so away, in the distance we could see a lit up area and the shapes of workers moving about. We opted to go back to the vent, and exited. There was little else to see at this juncture.

Cheers to GE077 for research skills and company as ever. Always fun.