The oldest London Underground station in East London built on the site of a former ‘plague pit’

The oldest London Underground station in East London built on the site of a ‘plague pit’

We all use the London Underground, but do you know the history of East London’s stations?

BySiva Thangarajah

  • 16:31, 16 FEB 2021
  • UPDATED16:32, 16 FEB 2021

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Whitechapel Station in 1979
Whitechapel Station in 1979 (Image: Dr Neil Clifton Creative Commons)

The London Underground is famous for being the oldest underground railway system in the world.

The first underground train line opened in 1863, which carried passengers between Paddington and Farringdon

The carriages were made of wood and lit with candles.

Doesn’t quite sound like it will meet modern day safety standards!

Most of the very first Tube stations were in West London, as that is where wealthier people lived. But later on in the 19th century, East London started getting its own Tube lines, connected through what are now the District, Central and Hammersmith and City lines.

One of them was even built on the site of a so-called ‘plague pit’.


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5. Plaistow, Bromley-by-Bow, East Ham, Bow Road, Dagenham East, Mile End, West Ham and Upton Park – 1902

There were a group of neighbouring stations in East London, that all opened simultaneously on June 2, 1902, except for Bow Road which opened 11 June.

That is because they were previously railway stations run by a company called London, Tilbury and Southend Railway which ran steam powered

They opened and operated the underground line that would eventually become the District Line.

Plaistow Underground Station platform
Plaistow Underground station platform (Image: Creative Commons)

4. Aldgate East – 1884

This station was the first in the ‘East’ of London to house the District Railway (now the District Line).

The other Aldgate station nearby belonged to rival company Metropolitan Railway, who created the first and original underground line, the Metropolitan Railway.


3. Whitechapel – 1884

Did you know the current Whitechapel station is named after a completely different station nearby?

The original Whitechapel station had existed since 1876, carrying on steam powered trains. Then the District Railway opened a new station nearby called Whitechapel and Mile End.Up To £800 Off On Selected Hearing AidsOur invisible hearing aids start from £19.99/month.Ad by Amplifon UK See MoreDON’T MISSMarks and Spencer shares photo of denim jeans but shoppers distracted by ‘beautiful’ headscarfThe only London Underground station that has a hidden river running over itThe quietest station in London with just 30K visitors a year – and it’s not on the London Underground

When the main train station closed, the ‘Mile End’ station was changed to its current name of Whitechapel station.

2. Tower Hill – 1882

The Tower Hill Underground station that stands today is actually built on the burial site of another underground station.

In fact, this station has a long history of opening, closing, then reopening after different names.

When it opened in 1882, this was called the Tower of London Tube station. It then shut two years later.

This current Tower Hill station was actually built in 1967, on top of the original station, which was demolished.

1. Aldgate – 1876

The bodies were found under where Aldgate station is now (Image: Ewan Munro)

Finally, this is the oldest underground station in East London.

Aldgate’s construction leading up to 1876 was complicated by the gruesome fact that it was built on the site of a so-called ‘plague pit’.

Thousands of bodies from the Bubonic Plague in the 17th century were buried nearby.

The station was run by the architects of the first underground railway company, the Metropolitan Railway. Around a decade later, its rivals, the District Railway, opened Aldgate East nearby.

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Published by technofiend1

Kazan- Kazan National Research Technical University Казанский национальный исследовательский технический университет имени А. Н. Туполева he graduated in Economics in 1982

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