Holborn tube station

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Template:Use dmy dates Template:Use British English Template:Good article Template:Infobox London station

Holborn is a London Underground station in Holborn central London. It is served by the Central and Piccadilly lines. On the Central line the station is between Tottenham Court Road and Chancery Lane stations; on the Piccadilly line it is between Covent Garden and Russell Square and is in Travelcard Zone 1. The station is located at the junction of High Holborn and Kingsway. Close by are the British Museum, Lincoln's Inn Fields, Red Lion Square, Bloomsbury Square and Sir John Soane's Museum.

Located at the junction of two earlier tube railway schemes, the station was opened in 1906 by the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (GNP&BR). The station entrances and below ground circulation were largely reconstructed for the introduction of escalators and the opening of Central line platforms in 1933, making the station the only interchange between the lines. Before 1994, Holborn was the northern terminus of the short and little-frequented Piccadilly line branch to Aldwych and two platforms originally used for this service are disused. One of the disused platforms has been used for location filming when a London Underground station platform is needed.


File:Holborn station Piccadilly eastbound look west.JPG
Piccadilly Line eastbound platform looking west
File:Holborn station Central westbound.JPG
Central Line westbound platform


The station was planned by the Great Northern and Strand Railway (GN&SR), which had received parliamentary approval for a route from Wood Green station (now Alexandra Palace) to Strand in 1899. After the GN&SR was taken over by the Brompton and Piccadilly Circus Railway (B&PCR) in September 1901, the two companies came under the control of Charles Yerkes' Metropolitan District Electric Traction Company before being transferred to his new holding company, the Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL) in June 1902.Template:Sfn To connect the two companies' planned routes, the UERL obtained permission for new tunnels between Piccadilly Circus and Holborn. The companies were formally merged as the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway following parliamentary approval in November 1902.Template:Sfn


The linking of the GN&SR and B&PCR routes at Holborn meant that the section of the GN&SR south of Holborn became a branch from the main route. The UERL began constructing the main route in July 1902. Progress was rapid, so that it was largely complete by the Autumn of 1906.Template:Sfn Construction of the branch was delayed while the London County Council carried out slum clearances to construct its new road Kingsway and the tramway subway running beneath it and while the UERL decided how the junction between the main route and the branch would be arranged at Holborn.Template:Sfn

File:Holborn Station Original Layout.svg
Indicative layout of original GNP&BR platforms

When originally planned by the GN&SR, Holborn station was to have just two platforms. The first GNP&BR plan for the station would have seen the two platforms shared by trains on the main route and by the shuttle service on the branch with the junctions between the tunnels south of the station. The interference that shuttle trains would have caused to services on the main route led to a redesign so that two northbound platforms were provided, one for the main line and one for the branch line, with a single southbound platform. The junctions between the two northbound tunnels would have been 75 meters north of the platforms. When powers were sought to build the junction in 1905, the layout was changed again so that four platforms were to be provided. The southbound tunnel of the main route no longer connected to the branch, which was to be provided with an additional platform in a dead-end tunnel accessed from a crossover from the northbound branch tunnel. As built, for ease of passenger access, the branch's northbound tunnel ended in a dead-end platform adjacent to the northbound main line platform with the branch's southbound tunnel connected to the northbound main line tunnel.Template:Sfn To enable the southbound tunnel of the main route to avoid the branch tunnels, it was constructed at a lower level than the other tunnels and platforms. The tunnel towards Covent Garden (at this point heading south-west) passes under the branch tunnels.

As with most of the other GNP&BR stations, the station building was designed by Leslie Green, though at Holborn the station frontage was, uniquely, constructed in stone rather than the standard red glazed terracotta. This was due to planning regulations imposed by the London County Council which required the use of stone for façades in Kingsway. The station entrance and exit sections of the street façade were constructed in granite with the other parts of the ground and first floors in the same style but using Portland stone.<ref name="1930 photo">London Transport Museum, caption to photograph of station. Retrieved 13 October 2013.</ref> The rest of the building above first floor level was constructed contemporaneously with the station. Access to the platform levels of the station was provided by trapezium-shaped electric lifts manufactured by Otis in America. These operated in pairs in shared circular shafts,Template:SfnUnknown extension tag "ref" with an escape stair in a separate, smaller shaft.

Although the station was constructed where the GNP&BR's tunnels crossed those of the Central London Railway (CLR, now the Central line) running under High Holborn,Unknown extension tag "ref" no interchange between the two lines was made as the CLR's nearest station, British Museum, was Template:Convert to the west. Passengers wishing to interchange between the two stations had to do so at street level.Template:Sfn

The station opened on 15 December 1906, although the opening of the branch was delayed until 30 November 1907.Template:Sfn

Station modernised

File:Holborn Tube Station Escalator.jpg
Originally built with lifts, escalators were added at Holborn station in 1933

The street level interchange between the GNP&BR and CLR involving two sets of lifts was considered a weakness in the network. A below ground subway connection was considered in 1907. A proposal to enlarge the CLR's tunnels to create new platforms at Holborn station and to abandon British Museum station was included in a private bill submitted to parliament by the CLR in November 1913,<ref name=gazette_01>Template:London Gazette </ref> although the First World War prevented any works taking place.Template:Sfn

Like many other central London Underground stations, Holborn was modernised in the early 1930s to replace the lifts with escalators. The station frontages on Kingsway and High Holborn were partially reconstructed to modernist designs by Charles Holden with the granite elements replaced with plain Portland stone façades perforated with glazed screens. The lifts were removed and a spacious new ticket hall was provided giving access to a bank of four escalators down to an intermediate concourse for the Central line platforms.<ref name="1930 photo"/><ref name="Holden Plan"/> A second bank of three escalators continues down to the Piccadilly line platforms.

The new Central line platforms came into use on 25 September 1933 replacing those of British Museum which had closed the day before. As part of the modernisation the station was renamed Holborn (Kingsway) on 22 May 1933, but the suffix gradually dropped out of use and no longer appears on station signage or tube maps.Template:Sfn The new platforms at Holborn led to the number of passengers switching between the lines increasing tenfold by 1938.Template:Sfn

Branch operations

Initially, shuttle train services on the branch operated from the through platform at Holborn. At peak times, an additional train operated alternately in the branch's western tunnel from the bay platform at Holborn. During the first year of operation, a train for theatregoers operated late on Monday to Saturday evenings from Strand through Holborn and northbound to Finsbury Park; this was discontinued in October 1908.Template:Sfn

In March 1908, the off-peak shuttle service began to use the western tunnel on the branch, crossing between the two branch tunnels south of Holborn. Low usage led to the withdrawal of the second peak-hour shuttle and the eastern tunnel was taken out of use in 1914.Template:Sfn Sunday services ended in April 1917 and, in August of the same year, the eastern tunnel and the bay platform at Holborn were formally closed.Template:Sfn Passenger numbers on the branch remained low: when the branch was considered for closure in 1929, its annual usage was 1,069,650 and takings were £4,500.Template:Sfn The branch was again considered for closure in 1933, but remained open.Template:Sfn

Wartime efficiency measures led to the branch being closed temporarily on 22 September 1940, shortly after the start of The Blitz, and it was partly fitted out by the City of Westminster as an air-raid shelter. The tunnels were used to store items from the British Museum, including the Elgin Marbles. The branch reopened on 1 July 1946, but patronage did not increase.Template:Sfn In 1958, London Transport announced it would be closed. Again it survived, but the service was reduced in June 1958 to run only during Monday to Friday peak hours and Saturday morning and early afternoons.Template:Sfn The Saturday service was withdrawn in June 1962.Template:Sfn

After operating only during peak hours for more than 30 years, the closure announcement came on 4 January 1993. The original 1907 lifts at Aldwych required replacement at a cost of £3 million. This was not justifiable as only 450 passengers used the station each day and it was losing London Regional Transport £150,000 per year. The Secretary of State for Transport granted permission on 1 September 1994 to close the station and the branch closed on 30 September.Template:Sfn

After its closure in 1917, the bay platform was converted into rooms for use, at various times, as offices, air-raid shelters, store rooms, an electrical sub-station and a war-time hostel.<ref name="hiddenholborn">Underground History, Hidden Holborn, retrieved 20 October 2013.</ref> Since 1994, the branch's remaining platform at Holborn has been used to test mock-up designs for new platform signage and advertising systems.<ref name="hiddenholborn"/>

Incidents and accidents

Template:Infobox rail accident The Holborn rail crash occurred on the Central line at Holborn on 9 July 1980, at about 13:28 and involved two 1962 stock trains. The 13:17 train from Liverpool Street to White City, standing at the westbound platform, was run into by the 12:49 Hainault to Ealing Broadway train. The rear train was slowing after its brakes had been applied by the emergency train stop system because it had passed two signals at danger, but it failed to stop in time to avoid collision. The driver of the rear train and 20 passengers were injured. An inquiry concluded that the accident was caused by the driver failing to control his train.Template:Sfn Disruption of services occurred until the following morning.Template:Sfn

On 21 October 1997, a 9-year-old boy, Ajit Singh was dragged to his death when a toggle on his anorak was trapped in the closing doors of a Piccadilly line train.

Use in media

The disused branch line platform and other parts of the station have been used in the filming of music videos for Howard Jones' "New Song", Leftfield's "Release the Pressure", Suede's "Saturday Night" and Aqua's "Turn Back Time".

The pre-war operation of the station and the branch line features in a pivotal scene in Geoffrey Household's novel Rogue Male, when the pursuit of the protagonist by enemy agents sees them repeatedly using the station's escalators, passageways and the shuttle service.Template:Sfn


The station is in London fare zone 1. On the Central line the station is between Tottenham Court Road and Chancery Lane, and on the Piccadilly line, it is between Covent Garden and Russell Square. Holborn is the only interchange between these lines. Train frequencies vary throughout the day, but generally Central line trains operate every 2–6 minutes from approximately 05:53 to 00:30 westbound and 05:51 to 00:33 eastbound. Piccadilly line trains operate every 2–6 minutes from approximately 05:42 to 00:28 westbound and 05:54 to 00:38 northbound.

On the Central line 1992 Stock is used. On the Piccadilly line 1973 Stock is used.

Transport connections

London Buses routes 1, 8, 19, 25, 38, 55, 59, 68, 91, 98, 168, 171, 188, 242, 243, 341, 521 and X68 and night bus routes N1, N8, N19, N35, N38, N41, N55, N68, N91, N98, N171 and N207 serve the station or operate nearby.

Notes and references








External links

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