Wednesday, 30 May 2012

It's A London Thing No.74: Warren Street Station

It’s a London Thing is our Wednesday series in which we turn the spotlight on a unique aspect of London – perhaps a curious shop, sometimes an eccentric restaurant, a hidden place, book or oddity. The subject matter will be different every week. The running theme, however, will remain constant: you have to come to London to enjoy it. It’s A London Thing.

It’s a London Thing has dallied on the Underground on many an occasion – the sights, the smells, the sounds, the ambience, the history.

And we’re heading down the escalator again this week, to celebrate the charms of an unsung stop on the Northern and Victoria lines.

Warren Street. Could be the pen name of a crime fiction writer. Or a minor celeb who hasn’t worked since he played the baddie in EastEnders twelve years ago.

We’ll be frank. There’s not much there, above ground that is. Nearby Fizrovia is fascinating, of course. But, with with apologies to French’s bookshop, and the second hand camera place and the, er… well that’s pretty much it for the immediate vicinity of the station itself.

Which makes it, for my money, a Londoner’s station. If you see someone getting off here, then the chances are they know something you don’t. Or they are soon going to know something you don’t, given the close proximity of University College.

Just down the line at Tottenham Court Road, passengers leave the train with all the eager haste of pre-pubescent girls mobbing a boy band.

At Euston Station, which comes just before Warren Street, the crowds swarm aboard the tube train like adults taking flight having just heard that boy band sing.

Not so Warren Street. Londoners dribble off the train here in comparatively small numbers. Many of them will be changing trains, heading for Oxford Circus (70 million passengers in 2010) or Waterloo (81.5 million). Compare that with around 14 million for Warren Street.

Silent. Warren Street station

A Cinderella station? No, I don't think that's quite right…

If you wanted a "type" for Warren Street, he's more PBM. Proper Boyfriend Material. Warren Street isn’t flash, it’s steady and reliable and won’t let you down. It will wait until you’ve had your fun with that flash Harry Leicester Square, and danced a three-lined tango with Victoria. Dependable ol' Warren Street.

Two lines run through Warren Street, the quiet man of Zone 1.

The Victoria line dates from 1968, and its Warren Street platforms feature a maze or labyrinth motif… geddit? Orange in colour, it is Warren Street’s one concession to the Swinging Sixties

The Northern Line platforms date from the early 20th century and have delicious, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it detailing with an Edwardian flavour; the curly, reassuring Way Out signs on the tiles; the station’s former name, Euston Road, can be seen on the Northern Line platform. 

Best of all, the darker tiles on the Northern Line platform, inlaid against the dominant creamy hued background. As the train speeds through, these dark tiles seem to be black in colour. On close inspection, however, they are the deepest blue, rich, midnight blue. It is a lovely detail and very Warren Street: subtle. Waiting patiently to be discovered. Not making a fuss. Photographs can't do the colour justice. Get up close and have a look next time.

Warren Street Station. It’s a London Thing.


A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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