Site Records


Site Name: King William Street Station

King William Street
London
EC4
TQ329808


Plan for converting King William Street station into an air raid shelter
It was obviously right next to the running tunnel as we were aroused each morning by the trains starting to run apparently just the other side of the wall! I visualised the new tunnel as running parallel with the old one but apparently, from your map, this was not so. As I said, the two normal sized tunnels ran on from the end of this large one and they were closed off with doors, one marked 'Ladies' and the other
marked 'Gents'. Presumably they continued on to join up with the under-river bit. It's a good job that no bomb fell in the river bed! I used to spend the evening with my father in a store room in the
basement, listening to some one else's gramophone up the passage playing The Breeze and I, If I should fall in love again and particularly A little dash of Dublin. I now have copies of these records (on 78) and they really bring back memories. About 10 p.m. we would make a cup of tea, eat a sandwich and go down to the tube station for the night along with several other employees most of whom belonged to the United Dominions Trust. My Father worked for Watts Watts and Co., who ran merchant shipping and whose ships were mostly named after London districts such as Twickenham, Dagenham and even


WW2 graffiti depicting Adolf Hitler
Photo by Robin Ware

Dulwich. He was a scrutineer keeping an eye on the invoices which were being received and to see that the firm wasn't being swindled!"

Photo:The upper level of King William Street shelter
Photo by Nick Catford

SUBSEQUENT EVENTS
A press visit was arranged in 1992 for Railway World magazine (April 1992 issue, pp 44-45), in which the late Handel Kardas says inter alia: "The station was adapted as [an] air raid shelter in the war years, losing its character in the process. The large single-arch lost its platforms and trackbed and the space was filled with two stories of rooms. These are still there, falling into decay, but the original structure seems as good as ever.

Unfortunately they make the old station practically impossible to photograph. Access to the station for maintenance and inspection purposes by London Underground Ltd engineers, is through the office block. In a fashion reminiscent of the opening sequence of The Man From Uncle or similar lightweight 1V spy series, staff enter the building at ground floor level and descend two floors. From there they take a short staircase further down still, to an innocuous-looking locked door. This gives access to another world of old, musty tunnels and twisting stairways, which show that this pioneer station was remarkably like many later


Serving hatch from kitchen (Click here to enlarge)

ones in general design. Much of it was originally tiled and the L T Museum has had several sections of tiles professionally salvaged for preservation. Soon, redevelopment will start and this remarkable survival of the first ever tube line will be lost forever."
 
A letter from M.E. Mawson of Edenbridge in the following issue took a more positive line, stating: "I do not understand how the old King William Street terminus may disappear with the forthcoming redevelopment, because it is not underneath Regis House but crosswise to King William Street and ending below the side street towards the monument. The spiral
steps are beneath the pavement therein, while the lift was indeed in the building confines and filled in solid when the present block went up. Surely London Underground Ltd will retain access via the basement of any succeeding premises."

Regis House was demolished at the beginning of 1995 and subsequently replaced by a new building of the same name; access was still retained at the new Regis House. A blue plaque on the side of the building in Monument Street commemorating King William Street. There is no public access to King William Street from Regis House and visits to the station and air raid
shelter which have been possible in the past are no longer allowed as the tunnels now carry live cables..

TOUR OF KING WILLIAM STREET STATION & SHELTER
From the basement of Regis House we passed through a door onto the top of the old emergency stairs which descend 75feet to the station below. The stairs appear to be original and in good condition considering their age. The spiral ends 30 feet above the platform from where a concrete stairway runs down to platform level, this still retains its original cream and patterned tiling scheme employed on the early CSLR stations.

The two level shelter constructed in 1940 remain largely unaltered, running along the east side within the station tunnel.  Steps at either end of the block of rooms lead to the upper level where some ventilation plant can still be seen.  Metal trunking is suspended from the ceiling in both the upper and lower rooms.  Previous visitors have noted a number of WW2 propaganda posters still in good condition but these have all now largely disintegrated following recent changes to the ventilation of the station area.  It is still possible to make out a couple of the poster fragments including one that once said “Careless talk costs lives”. One typed sheet is still in place which says “Special notice to late arrivals and early risers: please

The original emergency stairs are now the only access to the station. (Click here to enlarge)
spare a thought for your fellow shelterers and refrain from making any unnecessary noise. Please remember others may be asleep although you are not”.

Photo:This side room is one of the few places in the station that remains unaltered with the original C & SLR tiling visible on the wall and ceiling.
Photo by Nick Catford

At the east end of the station there is a side room, perhaps a toilet, that still has tiled walls and a tiled ceiling. A walkway runs along the south side of the station where some wall tiling is also still in place. At the end of the ‘building’, on the site of the crossover at the end of the platform, there is a kitchen with a serving hatch close to a small fan which feeds into the ventilation trunking. There is also the bottom of a circular brick shaft with a bricked up entrance.  This was the 64’ shaft sunk from King William Street House in 1940.

The two tunnel mouths are slightly offset in level. There are two rows of whitewashed brick toilet cubicles in each tunnel mouth, one tunnel for men and the other for women; a narrow walkway runs between the two lines of cubicles. Immediately beyond the station the tunnels turn sharply to the left below Swan Street before terminating at a concrete bulkhead close to the Thames; at this point both tunnels are flooded to a depth of 1 foot. There is a metal door through the bulkhead but we


A number of WW2 posters were still visible until fairly recently when the ventilation was altered, they have now disintegrated. Photo by J E Connor (click to enlarge)
had no permission to go beyond this.

Photo:One of the lower level shelter rooms. The wooden stairs from the upper level can be seen at the back of the room.
Photo by Nick Catford

The original running tunnels north of Borough tube station remain, although when the Jubilee Line Extension was built in the late 1990s the old southbound tunnel was cut through as part of the construction works at London Bridge station in order to provide the lift shaft situated at the south end of the northern line platforms. These running tunnels now serve as a ventilation shaft for
the station and the openings for several adits to the old running tunnels can be seen in the roofs of the Northern Line platform tunnels and in the central concourse between them. The remaining sections of twin tunnels between London Bridge and Borough are still intact. A number of posters can still be seen as can steps up to the various shelter entrances.


Poster between Borough & London Bridge, Photo by Nick Leverton
A construction shaft between London Bridge and King William Street, beneath Old Swan Wharf, now serves as a pump shaft for the disused sections of running tunnels. It is no longer possible to walk through between the two stations as the old C&SLR running tunnels have been blocked off with concrete bulkheads either side of the River Thames. This work has cut the through ventilation and the tunnels and especially the spiral stairs are now very humid. In recent years new lighting has been installed at King William Street and the station and west
running tunnel now carry new cabling for the underground network

Photo:Beyond the Thames bulkheads the two running tunnels ran above each other at one point , the ladder in this picture taken in May 1966 goes up to the other tunnel
Photo by David Ferris

FURTHER RESOURCES ON THE WWW
Frederic Delaitre's Lost Subways web site. The most detailed study, nicely researched and illustrated.

Pendar Silwood's Abandoned Tube Stations web site. Superb photographic survey of the tunnels as they were between 1977 and 1981.

Nick Leverton's web site. Excellent photographic record of a visit to the tunnels plus some good links to the history of the City & South London Railway.

The London Transport Museum has some superb pictures taken during the press visit in 1930. (order numbers U6866 semaphore starter signal and tunnel bores; U6867 exits and Way Out sign; U6868 signal cabin and signal; U6869 glazed tiles of tunnel wall with station name; U6870 old posters of 1895 uncovered).

Sources:

Tickets from Michael Stewart

For further pictures of King William Street
station click
here


Home Page
Last updated: 04 01 2011
©1998- 2017 Subterranea Britannica