GES219 - Stockwell Station, Disused sections
I've spent a number of usually cold nights, turning up at crazy hours, only to be disappointed when a target is swarming with orange encrusted workers. However here takes the biscuit. I've lost count of the number of times I turned up, only to find the place dotted with workers going in and out of the side entrance, feeding various hoses in the front entrance from a truck, sat gossiping outside the station with little sign of work going on. Access involved a little used door, that GE060 had heard about from the graffiti community. The slight downside was that it opened into the live station, and would require a quick dart to another door that lead into the bowels of the station. This required that the station be utterly silent. On a typically cold night, with the added 'bonus' of drizzling rain, we turned up again, Not really hoping, just expecting to see the usual orange wardrobed chaps wandering about. However, this time it was different. All the entrances were locked, and it looked like there was no activity. Our usual furrowed brows sprang upwards with an ascending smile, finally!
We sorted ourselves out and headed off to try the door. It slowly opened, and we were ensconced in a uv lit silent world, the only noise being the gentle hum of machinery somewhere in the building. We passed up the corridor, sense on full alert. A door sat half open in the corridor with no light coming from within. Nervously we checked and passed it. In front of us a door that lead into the live station area. GE060 slowly prised the door open, thankfully no creeking or squeeks emerged. Carefully looking out, all seemed good. We needed to dart about 3m directly across the station to another door, that lead to the vent shaft. One final look at each other for confirmation, and we darted across the station and through the door. We stood behind the door breathing quickly from our enormous sprint. Not hanging around we quickly descended the steps in the picture below, at the bottom of a vent.
Turning 180 degrees, there were steps that went up again. The doorway just visible on the right at the top of the steps, leads to a very short passage and the Northern Line tracks in the former station.
A short ventilation tunnel. The right had side has numerous openings all the way along that look out onto the cavity of the former station .Just visible a few metres from the camera on the left is an exit to a short passage that comes out on the Victoria line.
Walking to the end of the vent tunnel above, I looked out of the last vent window on the right hand side, and could see the traction indicator boxes, tantalisingly stating off. The bright light on the left sits in the access for the former ramp to the depot, now demolished.
Walking up to the other end of the vent, next to the steps down, a brief passage lead down to a door onto the tracks. Looking out we could see the bottom end of the cavity. The bright lights at the end of the track being the new station. Not sure what the lit up area is above the tracks in the centre.
Looking the other way one could see the full length of the cavity. In the centre would have been the platforms, trains running either side as they still do. It was amazing to think that over a hundred years ago, this was one of the first deep level train stations in the world. Even more impressive when considering the tough earth they had to build in. Unfortunately as I looked out to get ready to cross the tracks, I spotted a fluff cleaner, in their all white one piece suit. They appeared to be listening to music on headphones, so obvious to any noise. Even so, we considered it too risky to cross the tracks. Once again we had been thwarted.
Instead, we went back into the vent tunnel, and crossed to the Victoria line tracks. Things here were a lot quieter, and I sat about for a quick portrait shot. We'd seen the Victoria Line many times at the N&CLs, so little new to see.
Jubilated that we'd finally managed to get to the cavity and grab some shots, but a bit deflated we hadn't had free roam. We packed up, and headed back into the vent. There not being swarms of cops in the station, we surmised that we had gotten away with it. A few tentative steps, and we darted across the station, and quickly out the door and up the street. I had been here so many times, it was awesome to even get where we did. Props to GE060 for passing on his knowledge and doing this one.
Like children that experience ice-cream for the first time, we wanted more. Normally it's never a good idea to go back, greed can be an explorers downfall, just like a betting man or a thief. However, we were persistent and measured, no taking unnecessary risks here. And so it was, that we patiently spent weeks waiting for that golden moment, and sure enough, it came. Sat looking out onto the tracks and scoping out the station, all looked good. GE060 crept fully out onto the tracks, and before I knew it, was bounding off up the tunnel. I quickly followed, looking back and forward as much as possible. We then shot across the tracks and into the cavity where the old depot access was. Normal breathing resumed, and heartbeat to somewhere below the heart attack zone. We broke out our cameras and got a few shots.
Below is a small alcove area, with cables going off at the back (left side). The area was too small to squeeze into. On the other side of the wall in the centre of the picture is the top end of the cavity area.
180 degrees from the picture above, and on the left is the main tunnel from Oval station. On the right is a door that leads into the old depot tunnel. This used to allow trains to go to a depot to the East of the station. The depot is long gone, and currently a college occupies the site.
Taking a breather at the North end of the tunnel. You can see the gaps (dark rectangular areas) all down the right wall, including the one at the top where a photo was taken from the other side at the end of Trip 1 above.
The new station lit up through the short access tunnels was eerily quiet, not a sound or soul to be heard. The crossover in the middle of the cavity, allowing trains to switch lines mid service.
Bravery over, I joined GE060 and we went into the former depot tunnel section. This is looking to the back of the gate shown above. To the left are stairs down, and behind the tunnel ends abruptly.
180 degrees from the above picture. The section looks like it's been bricked up. Cable holders lie empty, and the cables on the roof truncated just before the wall. It took a few attempts to capture the stalactites properly on the left tunnel wall.
The steps down from the picture above. This may have been built in the late 1960s, as it appears to go under the Victoria Line, which runs parallel to the Northern LIne, and East of the southbound tracks.
The short tunnel at the base of the stairs seen above. The cable run down the middle of the tunnel. Just about visible on the left hand side near the base of the stairs is a dark line and break in the cables. This was a small tunnel leading off, the cables don't break, but dip into the tunnel briefly.
The tunnel leading down to a ladder and what appeared to be a capped vent. The tunnel is a 'J' shape, with the small bit of the 'J' just behind me, joining the tunnel seen above.
I crawled back through the dirt into the tunnel I was previously in. What I'm guessing is the tunnel under the Victoria line, has steps up again and return to the previous level. The tunnel goes two ways here. One leads down to the Northern Line tracks (ahead of the camera), the other leads a fair way behind the camera to what is now a sub station. It was previously an engine house.
Climbing over the ladder above the cables seen above, this is a shot down the tunnel. Note the iron tunnel sat inside a brick one. The tunnel also appears to be cut in half vertically..
Further along the tunnel above, an opening revealed the tunnel similar to the one further up, from when we had walked off the southbound Northern Line tracks. I get the impression that in-between these bricked up sections is possibly the Victoria Line.
Which leaves the question of what line is that lit up in the background of this picture? The shot above was just to the left of the camera in the picture below. If it was the Victoria line, it would have to curve in order to go over the tunnel that involves going up and down steps (with the cable run in the middle) seen above. Unfortunately in the rush to look around, we neglected to check that.
Going back to the junction at the top of the stairs that pass beneath the VIctoria Line, I walked the other way along a decent stretch of tunnel. This is after 50m or so, looking back to the junction at the top of the stairs.
This is the shot 180 degrees from the one above, the tunnel keeps it's shape until the end, just visible in the background. By now we were directly beneath the sub station, which is where all these heavy cables were going/coming from.
The end of the tunnel above, and all the cables go up a small vent shaft to the surface. A set of ladders passed beside them, but having seen the huge array of infra-red cameras on the surface, we didn't fancy our chances, and skipped it.
It wasn't too long before we were inhaling brake dust free air, and looking to get the hell out of Dodge. Another night of great exploration and infiltration of the most amazing metro network in the world. Props to GE060 for tips and company.