This account of a visit in May 2003 to the disused
tunnels north of Drayton Park was kindly sent in by a noble third-party
contributor and is reproduced here in as much detail as possible:
Passing through the single steel
gate entrance, the first thing that hits (literally) is the near-gale
force wind, caused by the passage of the Victoria line trains
about half a mile away. Standing just inside the gate in pitch
darkness, the old northbound tunnel runs off to the left. Ahead
is the tunnel wall, the other side of which is the old southbound
tunnel. To the right is the huge concrete plug which seals the
tunnel mouth. Allowing one's eyes to adjust to the darkness,
a set of concrete steps leading down to the track bed can just
be made out. At the base are the old running rails; the positive
and negative rails have been removed. Some insulators still remain,
others lie strewn around the track bed. Everything is covered
in grime, the metal is rusted, the air is cold and slightly fusty
and one can feel the dampness in the air.
(The northbound bore looking
north - the current carrying rails have been removed.)
Walking 150 yards north in the
large mainline bore of the NCL tunnel, there is a cross passage
walkway that connects the northbound bore to the southbound.
Here the positive and negative rails are still in place, sitting
on their insulators as they were when the tunnels were abandoned.
(A cross passage, looking into
the southbound tunnel. On the floor is a pile of cable brackets.)
Has anyone heard the story of
two of the rolling stock cars involved in the Moorgate crash
being "bricked up" in the southbound tunnel?
It's not true: looking south in the southbound tunnel there is
a huge mound of spoil, consisting of clay, sleepers, concrete,
and brick, which extends about 100 yards back to the concrete
plug of that bore. It was possible to climb over that mound and
at times the track bed below could be seen but there is no evidence
of anything buried underneath.
(Looking south in the southbound
tunnel at the mound of spoil. This goes right back for about
100 yards to the concrete plug.)
Still in the Southbound tunnel,
but walking north for approximately 200 yards there is another
concrete plug. If it was possible to see beyond the wall, it
would reveal the roof of the southbound Victoria line tunnel.
Beneath one's feet, the obvious rumbling of these trains as they
skirt off to the west slightly to run below both the NCL tunnels
can be felt
(These two photos show the car
marker boards telling drivers when clear of the cross over outside
the tunnels north of Drayton Park.)
Back to the Northbound bore,
and a good place to inspect one of the insulators laying in the
track bed in greater detail. The date stamped on the side was
MAY 61, with LTE written just below. Walking onwards, the track
bed is littered with railway artefacts from a bygone age, then
a breeze block wall with a simple doorway in the centre is reached;
the wind pressure suddenly increases, caused by the movement
of the Victoria line trains a short distance away.
(A live rail insulator with
the date Jan 64)
Moving away from the door, a
ghostly howl rises to a pitch then dies away to silence. Although
this is simply the movement of air around the doorway caused
by the passing of the underground trains, this is definitely
not for the faint hearted! In the distance a light from the Victoria
line flickers - this tunnel separates the northbound and southbound
line. There is only track bed here now, no rails or insulators
to trip on and the air is dry and warm. Everything here is in
mint condition, no rust; the date on the tunnel wall plates is
plainly visible: 1902! (These tunnels, if memory serves correctly,
were the first to be dug with the use of the Greathead shield.
A shield that got stuck in the construction of Moorgate has been
left there. It is still visible in run off tunnel at the end
of platform 10 at Moorgate.)
(Looking north in the southbound
tunnel...a more familiar view.)
Two hundred yards or so further
on the right is a cross passage, with southbound Victoria line
rails visible. There is another cross passage on the left - the
northbound Victoria line. Still standing in the old NCL tunnel,
a blast of air suddenly hits; a northbound train is approaching!
Off with the lamps, so not to alarm the driver. The wind pressure
increases until the train rattles past safely at the far end
of the cross passage. Walking north again in the NCL tunnel,
there is a rather crude wooden wall, possibly made from sleepers.
Not far from Finsbury Park now. More air movement, but looking
back, no train passes on the Victoria line. A few moments pondering
and it is assumed that this must be the Piccadilly line southbound
passing somewhere on the other side. There is a disused small
brick pump room, which used to draw water away to the surface
but that's all.
There are no platforms down
here, no disused stations, simply running tunnels. Walking back
it becomes more obvious how much the tunnel actually curves.
Walking in the darkness can be extremely disorientating. Upon
returning to the starting point, it is amazing to see how much
filth one's clothes have accumulated.