I recently spent the day in London solely to travel around on the Underground to take photos. Not your traditional day out in London maybe, but one borne out of a railway enthusiast friend thinking of a nice day out to celebrate my birthday where the theme was ‘the meeting of hobbies’. I love photography and he loves anything to do with rail transport. My friend regularly passes through and admires underground stations, so a day targeting photogenic underground spots was easily planned by him and gratefully enjoyed by me.
Our day started at London Bridge Underground Station which is a station on both the Jubilee and Northern lines. As this station is next to the Shard there would have been a whole avenue of above ground photography not too far away too.
It’s not often that you get a chance to take photos of such a sci-fi looking place so I appreciated the brief lack of people in one of the tunnels there and just enjoyed the symmetric and geometric beauty before the peace and solitude was broken.
A short trip down the Jubilee line took us to Canary Wharf. There are many photo opportunities above ground here. Skyscrapers stand tall and are reflected in other skyscrapers. Smartly dressed men and women stride about purposefully and breaking news is broadcast via an electronic feed on the side of a building. This place oozes financial gravitas and I thought the picture below summed that up.
I felt that Canary Wharf Underground Station had a very different feel compared to all the other stations that I’d ever been to as it seemed very open and spacious compared to the tunnel network format.
Two stations down out of the 270 and this experience was already building up a desire for more that I knew wouldn’t be quenched in one trip.
Gants Hill Underground Station was next on the plan and we travelled there on the Central line.
This was on our agenda because of the beautiful ceiling on the lower concourse (see below) which I have heard called the ‘Moscow concourse’ because it was inspired by the grand looking Moscow Metro stations.
I enjoyed the ‘ordinary’ view above just as much as the special ceiling. I realised that this was part of the attraction of the underground system as a venue for taking photos; the ordinary was special and beautiful too.
Next we went to Clapham North and Clapham Common because of their island platforms and for a chance to see two underground trains at the same time. These stations are served by the Northern line.
It was at this point in the day that I realised that I had barely any pictures of any trains, the whole point of the place that I was focusing on for the day. I therefore ceremoniously took the below picture and felt lucky that in the short window of time that I was there (so that we could fit everything else in) I was able to capture two trains in one go. I felt that this made up for my prior neglect!
A quick trip to Victoria Underground Station gave me the chance to see this fantastic urban view. In the other tunnels that I visited my aim was to capture them without people but on the picture below, the fact that someone walked across the end just as I was taking the picture was a lucky bonus I felt.
Regent’s Park on the Bakerloo line was the penultimate station on the plan for our day and it offered beautiful green tiles on the walls of the entrance/ exit of the station. This station has a choice of lifts and a staircase to move between the outside and the tube platforms and we optimistically used the staircase while we were there. The staircase has 96 steps, so it was a welcome relief to stop for a while to take the photo below. There were a couple of tourists with a similar idea so we stopped and exchanged pleasantries for a while before we went our separate ways.
We then returned back to King’s Cross St Pancras Underground Station, an underground station which serves 6 underground lines, and one which leads to the two mainline stations of the same names (both featured in articles on this site). This station was opened in 1863 and was one of the first stations to exist. My interest in the place on this occasion was for another chance to see more futuristic space type tunnels (see also the header photo) which luckily I managed to photograph with the added bonus of either no people in them or just the right amount of people.
In my opinion the beauty that is to be found in so many places on the London Underground is astounding. The network serves a function, it transports vast numbers of people daily, some on their commute and others paying occasional visits. As these people travel on their way they have the chance to have these features brighten up their days. To my mind, these design features show an immense pride of the system and that’s why I hold my head up high and say that I spent the day there solely to admire the London Underground. Many thanks to my friend who knowledgeably guided me around.
Thank very much for your comment Paul!
Nice and unusual article and I’ve also considered how photogenic the underground is. I was in London recently and stayed near Belsize Park station which is a beautiful looking station that, advertising aside, looks like it is stuck in another time. One to add to your list
Thank you very much for your comment Paul! I will give that station a visit 🙂