Euston - The Lost Tunnels

I had heard of tours of the London Underground where you can visit old stations and areas which are no longer used, however there would be hoards of screaming public getting in the way of a decent shot. After a bit of research I found an offer of a Photographers day in the tunnels of Euston station. The head count would only be up to eight people so there would be ample opportunity to take some great shots with out the back of someones head in the way.

 Its a turbine, if you missed the preamble....

Its a turbine, if you missed the preamble....

The UK had been experiencing the Beast from the East snow storm so I phoned ahead to make sure the event was happening. It was still going so I trudged my way to the meeting point inside a building opposite Euston Station. Here we were signed in and given a hi-vis jacket to wear. We were not allowed to keep them... yes I did ask.

After a brief PowerPoint presentation about the areas we were visiting and a few terms and conditions we were taken to the turbine room next door. To see a turbine... an enclosed turbine so all you could see what the outer shell. A few of the other photographers started taking shots so I thought I would give it a go too. I had my Canon 70d and the Sigma 10-20mm f3.5 wide angle lens as I wanted to capture long tunnels as well as the walls in one shot and not have to resort to a panoramic set up. For now I had to make do with... a turbine.

You may be thinking 'you paid for the trip so why not enjoy everything it has to offer', this is true but the event is called 'Euston - The Lost Tunnels' not 'Euston - The Easily Found Turbine'.

After this we all trudged back outside to Euston Station and headed down to one of the platforms. We were taken through a metal grated door into the starting area. First thing you notice? The cold! 

We were first taken around each area we would be using then split into small groups. Two in each group. Each area was split into two smaller areas so we would not get in each others way. We were allowed to use the magnetic LED torches the organizers had on them and there were many places to stick them to.

This first shot had the light behind the central ladder which cast a shadow towards the camera and another illuminated the tunnel behind. My metal tripod was freezing at this point!

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Along the walls of the tunnels, mostly ripped and faded are advertising posters, many were for films, theater and train destinations. This wall had posters for films  The St Valentines Day Massacre - 1967 and One Born Every Minute - 1967.

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These tunnels are used for storage so there were a lot of tools and metal things stacked up along the walls, none of which were in the way but in places the floor was a little uneven but those areas were well lit.

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Moving further down in to the areas there is a tunnel designed to move air around as the trains on the Victoria Line come and go. The tunnel had a wall bisecting it to funnel the air around. Just around the corner there was a walkway where you could look down on the platform and watch as people boarded the trains. When the trains entered the platforms a gust of warm wind would rush down this tunnel, sadly this would do nothing for my already frozen tripod.

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I swear that if the organizers had someone dressed as H. R. Gigers Alien down here it would not look out of place at all. This side of the tunnel was stone cold as the warm air would only travel so far. You could literally stand in one place and be cold, then step forward and be warm. 

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We had been down there a while now and I started to experiment with using the camera hand held rather than on the tripod. At the current light levels the exposure time would be 1-2 seconds which gave me enough time to zoom in and out to create light trails and blurs.

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I also tried a unfocused shot of the Alien tunnel. The three lights flared out and I have combined a couple of these blurred shots together to create this surreal image below.

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The final area was a short downward sloping tunnel ending in a small door, dubbed the Hobbit door. This area was quiet despite the distant noise of the trains back along the tunnel. I took a moment while setting up the shot to think about where exactly and how far down I was in the system at this point. I wonder what was through the door?

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The curve of the ceiling and the lights caught my eye for this shot. It makes a great wallpaper image on my laptop.

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Our group was eventually released back into the warmth of Euston Station... right into the middle of an emergency evacuation. Hundreds of people milling about and complaining while the snow storm (which i had forgotten about while being underground) ignored the complaints and continued to pelt everyone with tiny ice crystals.

I gave my thanks to the organizers and trudged my way back to Kings Cross then home.

 If you are the last to leave, turn out the light....

If you are the last to leave, turn out the light....