Site Records

Site Name: Embankment substation and interchange subway

Villiers Street
OS Grid Ref: TQ304803

Sub Brit site visit 2008

[Source: Nick Catford]

Charing Cross station was opened on 30 May 1870 by the Metropolitan District Railway (MDR; now the District and Circle lines) when the railway extended its line from Westminster to Blackfriars. The construction of the new section of the MDR was planned in conjunction with the building of the Victoria Embankment and was achieved by the cut and cover
method of roofing over a shallow trench.

On 10 March 1906, the Baker Street & Waterloo Railway (BS≀ now the Bakerloo Line) opened with its own deep level station beneath and at ninety degrees to the platforms of the MDR. Although an interchange was provided between the two separate railways, the BS&WR named its station differently as Embankment.

Photo:The passenger interchange subway between the Bakerloo & District lines - looking towards the District line.
Photo by Nick Catford

A long and steeply inclined interchange subway was provided between the Bakerloo and District lines with access from one end of the Bakerloo Line platforms (5 & 6). The subway was not popular with passengers and was closed on 2nd March 1914 when the station was rebuilt with escalators. It was retained as a cable way and now also houses communications equipment.

Charing Cross station in 1894
On 6 April 1914, the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway (CCE&HR; now a part of the Northern Line) opened a one stop extension south from its terminus at Charing Cross. The extension was constructed to facilitate a better interchange between the BS&WR and CCE&HR. Both railway companies were owned by the Underground Electric Railways Company (UER) which operated two separate and unconnected stations at the northern end of main line station - Trafalgar Square on the BS&WR and Charing Cross on the CCE&HR (both now part of a combined Charing Cross)

The CCE&HR extension was constructed as a single track tunnel running south from Charing Cross as a loop under the River Thames and back. A single platform was constructed on the northbound return section of the loop.

At the opening of the CCE&HR extension, the BS&WR and CCE&HR parts of the station were named Charing Cross (Embankment) although the MDR platforms remained Charing Cross. In 1915 this was rectified by changing the name of the whole station to Charing Cross. The CCE&HR station to the north was renamed Strand at the same time.

On 4 August 1974, the station was once again renamed to Charing Cross Embankment. Then, on 12 September 1976, it became Embankment, so that the merged Strand and Trafalgar Square stations could be named to Charing Cross.

Much of the original tiling  in the interchange subway is still in place.  At its far end, the subway opens out into a huge chamber excavated by cut and cover below Villiers Street. This housed the Embankment substation which fed the underground with traction current; it closed in 1957 when it was replaced by a new substation located between Embankment station and Victoria Embankment Gardens.

Photo:The passenger interchange subway between the Bakerloo & District lines - looking towards the Bakerloo Line.
Photo by Nick Catford

The massive chamber is now devoid of any equipment but retains an overhead gantry and pulleys for moving heavy machinery around. Steps lead down to the floor of the substation where some electrical switchgear is also still in place. A ventilation shaft for the substation can be seen in Victoria Embankment Gardens. From the substation a ladder gives access to the eastbound
.................................................................District Line platform (2).

Photo:Embankment substation chamber
Photo by Nick Catford

The subway is known to staff as ‘Pages Walk’. It is entered from the far end of the northbound Bakerloo Line platform where a door opens onto a flight of steps.  At the top of the steps there is another door and beyond that a junction, Pages Walk is to the right. The subway crosses the Bakerloo line on a bridge beyond which there is a heavy steel ‘blast door’. Beyond this, the
subway widens running steeply upwards for about 200 yards to another flight of steps up to Embankment sub-station.

There have been a number of proposals for reusing the underground chamber and in 1998 LT property commissioned a feasibility study for converting the sub-station into a nightclub, at present it remains empty and unused.

Other web sites: Pendar Silwood's Abandoned Tube Stations

Tickets from Michael Stewart


Click on thumbnail to enlarge

Source: Nick Catford

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Last updated: 04 01 2011
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