For the first time in nearly a century, visitors next month will be able to descend into the bowels of London’s original Shepherd’s Bush Underground Tubes, which have lain out of use since being used as air-raid shelters for the Second World War. . Transport for London’s new tour is 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.
In these ghost town center stations and grassy tracks surrounded by fields, one can imagine the bygone scenes of hissing steam, urgent whistles, slamming doors and the excitement of arrivals and departures. Collectors of lost railway lines and stations keep a close eye on surviving elements: bridge abutments whose arches have been demolished; trackless embankments that cut the contours of the landscape. But it’s the buildings that are of most interest, as we can savor the details that remain – a long-stopped clock, the fretwork of a platform verandah, a waterless water column, and traces of old traffic, like an empty freight van. on a rusty siding.
But things are changing. That station you see today in a small town, with its moldy ticket office, cracked plasterwork, half-illegible signs and the inevitable graffiti, with oleanders and buddleias blooming in the tracks, might next year to be embellished, repainted, revived in a café or a community centre: once again at the service of an objective. In a strange way, we can enjoy decadence – and what writer Rose Macaulay calls the “pleasure of ruin” – as it mixes with nostalgia and offers a glimpse into the recent past. The sensations and feelings aroused by such discoveries only enrich our journey.
Read on to discover 10 of the best railway relics to visit in Europe, each with its own special atmosphere.
Chamberi Metro Station
The city’s first metro line, opened in 1919, could not be extended for modern trains and closed in 1966. Restored to its original condition, its furniture, ceramic tiles and art nouveau advertisements recall the 1920s A visit offers an intriguing journey into the Madrid of a hundred years ago, when people were hesitant to go underground to travel, and the rounded shapes and bright, strong colors were meant to reassure them. It’s open to the public as a living museum, although trains still whiz past.
How to do: Posada del Leon de Oro (0034 91 119 14 94; posadadelleondeoro.com). Rooms from £62 per night