One of the lost and reputedly haunted stations of the London Underground reopens briefly today to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Blitz.
Aldwych station was one of the first to be used as an air raid shelter during the Second World War, when it helped protect many thousands of people from bombs dropped by the German Luftwaffe. Its tunnels also provided protection for some of the country's irreplaceable art.
It closed to the public in 1994, when essential lift renovations were deemed too expensive, but will reopen today and over the weekend for guided tours to help provide a glimpse of what it was like to hide from the bombs in a tube station 70 years ago. From 7 September 1940 to 11 May 1941, 50,000 bombs and millions of incendiaries were dropped onto the city.
The station has been decorated to replicate how it would have looked when the bombs were falling, and actors dressed in early 1940s attire will lead visitors deep into the station to add to the realism.
The tours, arranged in partnership with the Mayor of London, the London Transport Museum and Transport for London, have already sold out. Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, wanted the station reopened for the historic anniversary. "We must never forget the bravery and dogged determination of the men and women who battled to keep London moving in the face of a terrifying and unremitting bombardment which sought to destroy our great city during the Blitz," he said.
Aldwych tube station, originally and briefly called Strand station, was first opened in 1907 on the site of the Royal Strand Theatre and is reputed to be haunted by the ghost of an actress trying to return for a final curtain call.
Since its closure in 1994 the station has often been used as a film set and featured in the Lara Croft computer game Tomb Raider.