GES268 - Mansion House, Disused platform 4
I'd tried to convince others to accompany me, but all backed out as they considered it a 'bait' mission. In the world of urban exploring, bait means that you'll become it for the people in authority (Police/security). In order to reach here, it would mean passing through a few live stations, on top of walking around Mansion House station. I was also keen to retire from such activities, as I'd had 5 years of fun without incident down there, and wanted to go out on top like the Beatles or Usain Boltz. As I lay in my bed, the alarm went off for crazy O'clock. I turned it off and stared at the ceiling for a few minutes, the Missus turned over and returned to sleep. I did the same...for a few minutes, and then I found my legs swinging out of bed, almost involuntarily. Before I knew it, I'd dressed in the traditional dark clothes of an infiltration explorer, and picked up my camera bag and tripod. As I set off across London to the access point to this madness.
The streets were quiet, and I made my way into the system. The tunnels were boxy with a faint glow from a station in the distance and a green haze from a track light. I intended to walk alongside the tracks, but found I was mere centimetres from the live rail. So quickly hopped the rails into the middle of the tunnel, between the two sets of tracks and set off towards the first station. The ballast stones crunched beneath my feet, incredibly noisily with little other sounds to drown it out. I felt calm and comfortable, with no fear of walking along the train tunnels in the wee hours of the night. This section of tunnel dates from 1870, part of the Eastward expansion of the modern day District Line.
A loud noise came from in front of me, as I got closer, a grate in the floor had a loud suction type noise. We were below the water level of the River Thames next door, so this must be part of the system that prevents flooding down here. This engraving shows the District Line tunnels near Charing Cross, with the level of the Thames. This is all part of the Embankment, built by Joesph Bazelgette to house his Low Level Incterceptor Sewer (centre of picture below river waterline). Above that with the pipes, is the Embankment Utility tunnels, explored here. One can see the drainage tunnel referred to above, just below the centre of the tracks with the train on.
I started to approach the first station (pic below). I crouched and looked carefully into the station, listening as much as looking. After a few minutes, all seemed good, so I crossed the tracks to the small 45 degree angle incline that leads up to the platform.
I walked with purpose across the platform. Even though I've walked through loads of live platforms, there's always the fear that you'll be seen, or that someone will leap out at you. I dropped down from the platform to the rails, and crossed once more into the centre of the tracks. A few more grids with water based activities going on broke up the journey. The steep walls either side, built as part of Mr. Bazelgette's Embankment programme in the 19th Century.
Eventually I came to the next station, and again sat looking and listening for signs of life. If I'd triggered anyones attention or an alarm, I'd have thought there might be a presence at the next station. However as I climbed the incline to the platforms, there was nothing to worry me, and I passed through, glancing nervously at the entrances and exits on the platforms. Back over the rails, and I continued onwards. My heart began to race with more expectation. The next station was Mansion House, my target. After 5 or 6 minutes of plodding along, I began to see the first faint glows of the stations lights. I'd been past this spot a few times, trying to look out of the window of the train and see what was there. The odd glimpse of a weak light was all I got. As I got closer to the station, the left hand side opened up to where the old line would have run to Platform 4. Gorgeous metal girders held up the roof of this cut and cover tunnel, lit up by the track and station lights. The former line to Platform 4 now became visible with the help of a torch. Random metal boxes, piles of ceramic rail insulators and yellow track carts, for hand pushing rails around. At the back on the left a sub-station. The appropriate year conincidentally displayed on the divider between track and works storage area.
I walked at a right angle to the picture above, and came to the furthest left hand wall, following it towards the station. A dark narrow gap sat against the wall covered in the usual wires and cables from the tracks on the farthest left wall.
Turning around 180 degrees, a small empty cavern area where the tunnel has been cut off heading into the station.
Walking back 30m or so, an open area between access to Platform 3, and a large set of double red doors. Note the high ceilings above the girders on the left.
Through the double red doors, and looking West back to the where the first picture was taken at the top of this page, an enclosed area.
At the far end, a training area for track maintanence staff. Numerous signs made people aware that this had live high voltage electricity passing through it. The light orange door at the far back is where I exited.
Coming out beside the sub-station make shift building established where the track for Platform 4 would have run. The dark tunnel at the far back, where I had emerged 15mins earlier.
Looking East through the station. Two tracks behind me expand into three tracks here. The left-hand track splitting into two. The left hand side of the tracks would have been Platform 4.
This was the main reason I wanted to get to Mansion House, the entrance to the station from the East. I had seen it in an old video that was taken from the cab, and it looked gorgeous. However, when I got here, I noted that the platform roof trim had been replaced from a pointy wooden one, to a boring metal one. I still think it looks pretty special. As stations on the Underground go, this is quite a quirky one compared to others.
And with that, I packed up and marched off back to another access point nearby, and bed.