Hidden London exhibition brings abandoned Tube stations to life

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We tell to the designer behind the Transport Museum’s Hidden London exhibition. which recreates a “quietly station subterranean world”.

Veiled London looks unfinished at first. There is debris outside the gate, made to look like a Tube station — construction signs, edifice materials, newspaper stands — but it is all part of the exhibition’s “deconstructed look”. Sau-Fun Mo, the museum’s senior of design, says that this focus on atmosphere was her aim for the exhibition.

The fair recreates abandoned Tube stations, like Down Street caste, where Winston Churchill stayed safe in the Railway Executive Body’s bomb-proof headquarters during the Blitz. Aldwych’s “historic ticket job” has also been recreated, aided by instantly recognisable design count particulars such as the tiles used by Leslie Green, the English architect who put his typical stamp on London’s Tube stations at the turn of the century.

As visitors old-fashioned through the station replicas, they can see objects, photographs and sketches from Fifth-columnists archives, some never seen before.


Scooby-Doo moments

Mo after to create “Scooby-Doo moments”, where no one wants to be left behind during a hunting; an experience Mo says is linked with being in abandoned tunnels. During the analysis period, Mo spent time in these “spooky” tunnels where “no one in need ofs to be last one in the group”.

It was not always easy to replicate these spaces in the museum, located just now off Covent Garden piazza. And clearly the recreations are not completely realistic.

As a substitute for, the design relies on a sense of atmosphere, particularly lighting, which is manifest as soon as visitors enter the dimly lit exhibition space.

Design verses convey these abandoned places. A spiral staircase connects the two knock overs, which might remind visitors of the busy interchange at Bank billet.

Exhibition rubric is not neatly applied to walls but instead stuck up with gaffer cassette. There is ivy growing over the walls of the section dedicated to the Highgate burrow where bats shelter and people are not allowed.

The physical constraints also suited more conducive to the exhibition during the design process. “We’re limited in phrases of ceiling height, and length of the gallery, but it did lend itself well to replicating those whiles — the tunnels, the narrows spaces,” she says. “In some ways it was an advantage.”


Enquire of (and sight) of the underground

Audio-visual plays a big part of the exhibition and helps to engender this sense of atmosphere. There are air vents on display which companies can peer through to see bird’s eye footage of a Tube platform. Recordings of processions coming and going play throughout to give a sense of being secret. There are also flashes of light, to mimic the unexpected sights of being subterranean.

“Through light and sound, we’ve produced a space where you suddenly recoil skip over when you hear something, or a flash of light catches your eye,” Mo says. “That’s faultlessly what happens when you go through those spaces.”

Video footage bear down on from the museum’s archives as well as from films that in use accustomed to the underground stations as their backdrop. Films that have hand-me-down the stations include V for Vendetta (2005), Sliding Doors (1998) and the James Manacles film Skyfall (2012).

“We wanted to give people a sense of familiarity,” Mo demands. “If they’ve seen that film, they can think: That’s how that was Euphemistic pre-owned!”


Blitz Britain

One of the stand-out parts of the exhibition is a recreation of a dining stay where Churchill took shelter during the Blitz. Mo says this was a provocation to recreate as there was no official documentation of the shelter at Down Street, the headquarters of the Rolling-stock Executive Committee.

Part of why documentation was scarce is because the headquarters were not publicised; during wartime Britain, Churchill was explored to caviar, Champagne and cigars. Mo says the recreation was realised through “mark” from the space, such as marks where clocks had been, or where chart legs have left imprints. “A lot of work had to be done from what was Nautical port behind,” she says.

The museum hopes that the dining room dominion be a potential venue for companies to hire. It is rolling out a series of Friday Lates, segment of a wider trend for museums and galleries seeking new audiences.


Discovering the recalled Underground

The exhibition has been preceded by a book, Hidden London: Lay eyes oning the Forgotten Underground. Co-authored by David Bownes, Chris Nix and Siddy Holloway, it examines disused stations like King William Street, Down Way and 55 Broadway.

From the lost tunnels at Euston to the deep-level cover at Clapham South, the book is an expansive look at the Underground, with mental pictures from previously unseen archives.

Part of the challenge in transferring to a real show was picking which of these examples would work in the presentation. “You have to pick stories visitors can grasp quickly and that they don’t acquire to read hundreds of words to understand,” Mo says.

This exhibition is a taster of breeds; these stations were picked because they have the surpass sense of space and state of the Underground at the time. But it will hopefully go first to more interest.

She hopes that it will excite and intrigue callers, and if it is popular, it will lead to increasing their portfolio of abandoned stations.

“It’s a definitely lovely glimpse of what it’s like down there, but we want man to go away and use their imagination,” Mo says. “We want to leave them wanting to see multitudinous.”


Hidden London: The Exhibition runs from 11 October 2019 until January 2021 at London Charm Museum, Covent Garden WC2E 7BB. Children go free and adult tickets start at £16.50. For multifarious details, visit the website.

Hidden London: Discovering the Forgotten Underground (£25) is leaked by Yale University Press, London and is available to buy now.

7-13 October Features

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