For the first time in almost a century, visitors will next month be able to descend into the bowels of London’s original Shepherd’s Bush cellars, which have been out of use since they were used as air-raid shelters in World War II. . Transport for London’s new tour acts as a reminder that across Britain and Europe there are thousands of disused and abandoned train stations and depots. While many have completely disappeared, some have been converted to other uses and others are abandoned.
At these ghost stations in city centers and on grassy runways surrounded by fields, we can imagine the earlier scenes of steam whistles, urgent whistles, doors slamming, and the excitement of arrivals and departures. Collectors of lost railways and stations develop a keen eye for surviving features: bridge piers whose arches have been demolished; trackless embankments traversing the contours of the landscape. But it is the buildings that are of most interest, because we can savor the details that remain: a clock stopped long ago, the draft of a platform gallery, a column of water without water and signs of previous traffic, such as a van empty goods. in a rusty coating.
But things change. That police station you see today in some small town, with its musty ticket booth, broken plasterwork, half-illegible signs and the inevitable graffiti, with oleanders and buddleia blooming on the track bed, next year may be fixed up, repainted, revived as a café or a community center: once again serving a purpose. In a strange way, we can enjoy decadence, and what the writer Rose Macaulay calls “the pleasure of ruin”, as it mixes with nostalgia and offers a glimpse of the recent past. The sensations and feelings that such discoveries arouse do nothing more than enrich our trip.
Read on for 10 of the best railway relics to visit in Europe, each with its own special atmosphere.
Chamberí metro station
The city’s first subway line, opened in 1919, could not be expanded for modern trains and closed in 1966. Restored to its original state, its furniture, ceramic tiles, and art nouveau advertisements are reminiscent of the 1920s. an intriguing trip to Madrid a hundred years ago when people were reluctant to go underground to travel, and the rounded shapes and bright, strong colors were intended to reassure them. It is open to the public as a living museum, although the trains still whiz by.
How to do it: Posada del León de Oro (0034 91 119 14 94; posadadelleondeoro.com). Rooms from £62 a night