Stations across the London Underground are a marvel of architecture – but that is often lost on commuters and tourists as they rush through to catch a train.
Now a new book aims to showcase the best of the subway stops built from the mid-1920s through World War II in a style described as “Medieval Modernism.”
Architect Charles Holden and London Transport CEO Frank Pick collaborated on the structures that have been likened to building a grand cathedral.
The new book, ‘London Underground Stations 1924-1961’published by Fuel shows each surviving station from the period alongside later examples influenced by it.
The book from author Joshua Abbott and photographer Philip Butler – an architectural obsession known for documenting inter-war buildings across Britain – looks at the details of stops such as Gants Hill, Balham, Hounslow West and St John’s Wood.
Check out some of the stations featured in the book here – and see if you can figure out where they are. Scroll further down to learn more about each of them:
GANT’S HILL (Central Line)
Gants Hill is one of the most fantastic stations on the metro network, with influences from the Moscow metro in the 45 meter long hall.
The station, which opened in 1947, also has subway pedestrian underpasses that lead down to an underground ticket hall illuminated by square Art Deco skylights.
The idea for the station was pushed by Frank Pick, with London Transport having close ties to Soviet authorities who had visited to see the rebuilding of Piccadilly Circus, before London Transport officials then went to Moscow in 1935.
BALHAM (northern line)
Balham has two station entrances across a crossing, both of which have ‘folded’ facades and tripartite windows with a large roundel in the central panel.
The stop opened in 1926 and the underground ticket hall leads via escalators to a hall between the platforms, which retains most of the original tiles.
Balham suffered extensive damage during the Second World War when a bomb fell on the road above the platforms in 1940 and ruptured pipes, killing 68 people.
HOUNSLOW WEST (Piccadilly line)
A District line station at Hounslow West opened in 1884, but it was replaced in 1931 by the current version with a heptagonal ticket hall clad in Portland stone.
Hounslow West, located in zone five, features a bronze chandelier with seven heptagonal lighting fixtures, with the interior clad in tiles of a cream and pink design.
The platforms at Piccadilly line station were rebuilt in the mid-1970s to accommodate a track upgrade required for the extension to Heathrow Airport.
COCKFOSTERS (Piccadilly line)
Cockfosters, the northern terminus of the Piccadilly line extension, opened in 1933 – and the book calls it the ‘most interesting of Holden’s station designs’.
It has two plain buildings on the surface, but these lead to a long, nave-like space containing the ticket hall and platform areas, partially covered by the train shed.
The structure is built of reinforced concrete with sign markings and lit from above by large clerestory windows – creating a “grandeur not often seen at such a small stop.”
ST JOHN’S WOOD (anniversary line)
The station in exclusive St John’s Wood was built during the extension of the Bakerloo line, opened in 1939 and replaced the nearby Lord’s/St John’s Wood station.
It had a circular design for the street level ticket hall, which has been compared to Warren Street and Southgate, and this was later built on with flats added in 1960.
There’s a planted area outside with palm trees, and the ticket hall inside has pale tile work and exposed brick – while the escalators feature 58 bronze uplighters.
ARNOS GROVE (Piccadilly line)
Opened in 1932, this station is often regarded as one of Charles Holden’s best designs, combining rationalist Northern European modernism with Arts and Crafts.
The round drum card room sits atop a square base, both formed of Staffordshire and Buckinghamshire brick around a concrete frame.
The ceiling of the ticket hall is supported by a single concrete pillar and the bridge leading to the platforms is of unpolished – but now painted – concrete.
LOUGHTON (Central Line)
The current station, designed by John Easton Murray, is the third station to serve the area, having opened in 1940 and joined the Central line in 1948.
It has a ticket hall built in golden-brown brick around a reinforced concrete frame, while the front has a bus interchange and a small parade of shops.
It has influences from both 1930s Holden stations and the LNER terminal at Kings Cross – with LNER working with London Transport on its redevelopment.
ARSENAL (Piccadilly line)
The station was a typical Leslie Green design when it opened in 1906 as Gillespie Road as part of the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway.
It was then rebuilt and reopened in 1932 under the name of Arsenal (Highbury Hill), which was reportedly suggested by Arsenal FC manager Herbert Chapman.
The 1932 design was based on a sketch by Charles Holden, replacing the old entrance with a bold facade featuring a giant roundel in colored tiles.
Park Royal was part of Frank Pick’s push for a more high profile tube network and was built in 1931 to replace the original District Railway station of 1903.
The building, located next to the busy A40 Western Avenue, has a tall, square tower with an Underground roundabout and a circular hall on either side.
The station was known as Park Royal (Hanger Hill) in some of its early years, as it served the neighboring Hanger Hill estate in West London.
ST JAMES PARK (District and Circle lines)
St James’s Park station opened in 1868 as part of the first section of the District line, but was rebuilt in 1929 when it became the headquarters of London Transport.
A new building was built on it, built around a steel frame encased in concrete and then clad in stone, including Portland and Norwegian granite.
The Grade I building was vacated in 2019 and is now being converted into a hotel, which will remain above the platforms serving the District and Circle lines.
NORTH FIELDS (Piccadilly line)
The original Edwardian station first opened in 1908 before being demolished to make way for the Piccadilly line depot – and the current building opened in 1932.
The ticket hall has a coffered ceiling and glass roundels, and the platform shelters have canopies with pointed roof windows and concrete slab nameplates.
Northfields has two island platforms for four sets of tracks – two eastbound and two westbound – and connects directly to the west with Northfields depot.
London Tube Stations 1924–1961 by Philip Butler and Joshua Abbott was published by Fuel on 13 April and is available in hardcover for £24.95 by click here