In 1971 construction began on the new ‘Fleet line’. Economic pressures, and doubt over the final destination of the line, had led to a staged approach. Under the first stage, the Baker Street to Stanmore branch of the Bakerloo Line was joined at Baker Street to a new 2.5-mile line into central London, with intermediate stops at Bond Street and Green Park and terminating at a new station at Charing Cross, thereby relieving pressure on the West End section of the Bakerloo Line between Baker Street and Charing Cross and also allowing increased frequencies on the section north of Baker Street.
The Northern Line’s Strand station was closed on 4th June 1973 to enable the construction of the new Fleet Line platforms. These platforms were constructed between the Bakerloo Line’s Trafalgar Square station’s platforms and Northern Line platforms and for the first time an underground interchange between the two stations was provided.
Although the new line was to have been called the Fleet line after the River Fleet (although it would have only crossed under the Fleet at Ludgate Circus; the Central London section mostly follows the Tyburn). The project was renamed the Jubilee Line for Queen Elizabeth II’s 1977 Silver Jubilee following a pledge made by the Conservatives in the Greater London Council election of 1977. The original choice of battleship grey for the line’s colour was based on the naval meaning of the word fleet; this became a lighter grey, representing the silver colour of the Jubilee itself.
The line was officially opened by the Prince of Wales on 30 April 1979, with passenger services operating from 1 May 1979 into both the Jubilee Line platforms and the refurbished Northern Line platforms. From this date, the combined station including Trafalgar Square was named Charing Cross.
Although Charing Cross was constructed as the southern terminus of the Jubilee Line, plans already existed to continue the line to the east towards Lewisham. The tunnels were, therefore constructed beyond the station beneath Strand, almost as far as Aldwych station which would have been the next stop on the line. The subsequent regeneration of the London Docklands during the 1980’s and 1990’s required additional transport infrastructure and the eventual line of the extension took a different route branching south from the original alignment beyond Green Park to provide new interchanges at Westminster running via Waterloo, London Bridge and Greenwich to terminate at Stratford. On the opening of the first section of the line between Green Park and Waterloo stations on 20th November 1999, the Jubilee Line platforms at Charing Cross were closed to passengers after just over 20 years use.
The Jubilee Line platforms are still maintained by Transport for London for use by film and television makers needing a modern Underground station location while Aldwych is retained for period dramas. While still open they were used in the 1987 film The Fourth Protocol and after closure in numerous productions, including different episodes of the television series Spooks, Primeval (2007)the films Creep (2004), 28 Weeks Later (2007), The Deaths of Ian Stone (2007) and the videos for the Alex Parks’s single ‘Cry’ (2003) and Madonna’s ‘Hung Up’ (2005). The station is also used for reversing trains but as the escalators are no longer working it can’t be used by passengers who have to disembark at Green Park.
When the Jubilee platforms were first opened in 1979, five escalators down to the new platforms were provided as part of the station’s extensive refurbishment (three on the Northern Line side and two on the Bakerloo). With the closure of the platforms these escalators were also closed and access to them walled off.
TOUR OF CHARING CROSS
Unlike other closed tube stations which are dark and grubby Charing Cross is clean and well lit and on the day of our visit the Jubilee Line was closed between Green Park and Stratford for engineering work so all Jubilee Line trains were running into Charing Cross to reverse and with trains running into the station every six minutes it could still have been open; had there been any passengers! The station looks much as it did at closure retaining all is signs and a few large posters on the far side of the track. All the roof lining panels have been removed owing to water leakage problems causing damage to the platform cladding. We were also able to see a suite of domestic rooms and offices accessed from one of the platforms which are still used by TfL staff.
After a long climb back up one of the stationary escalators we went along the subway linking the Northern Line and Bakerloo Line platforms. This was built during the construction of the Jubilee Line and was never intended for passenger use but once it had been built it was decided to let the public use it. From this subway we went through a stainless steel grille door into a long well lit tunnel. This was also excavated during the construction of the Jubilee Line and slopes down towards it.
After about 200 yards there is a right angle bend to the left, this point is almost under the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square. The tunnel used to continue straight ahead with a narrow gauge tramway taking spoil out to a work site where the Sainsbury Wing of The National Gallery is now located; this tunnel has now been sealed. A stack of corrugated stainless steel panels from the tunnel roof of the Jubilee Line platforms are stored here. We then retraced our steps along the long tunnel.
From the main access subway to the Northern Line, a door took us into a ventilation tunnel leading to the Craven Street shaft. The shaft was sunk in c.1973 to provide draught relief and ventilation to the Northern and Jubilee Line platforms and the substation at Charing Cross. It is about 60 metres in depth and about 7 metres diameter.