Arsenal tube station

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Arsenal London Underground
Arsenal station entrance.JPG
Arsenal is located in Greater London
Location of Arsenal in Greater London
Location Highbury
Local authority Islington
Managed by London Underground
Number of platforms 2
Fare zone 2
London Underground annual entry and exit
2010 Decrease 2.98 million[1]
2011 Increase 3.07 million[1]
2012 Steady 3.07 million[1]
2013 Increase 3.09 million[1]
Railway companies
Original company Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway
Key dates
1906 Opened as Gillespie Road
1932 Renamed Arsenal (Highbury Hill)
c. 1960 Renamed Arsenal
Other information
Lists of stations
London Transport portalCoordinates: 51°33′31″N 0°06′21″W / 51.5586°N 0.1058°W / 51.5586; -0.1058

Arsenal is a London Underground station located in Highbury, London. It is on the Piccadilly line, in Travelcard Zone 2, between Holloway Road and Finsbury Park. Originally known as Gillespie Road, it was renamed in 1932 after Arsenal Football Club, who at the time played at the nearby Arsenal Stadium. It is the only Tube station named directly after a football club.[a] Although Arsenal's Highbury Stadium closed in 2006, the station retains its name and is still used by spectators attending matches at Arsenal's new Emirates Stadium, but it is otherwise quieter than other stations on the same stretch of line.


Tiling on the platform indicates the station's previous guise as "Gillespie Road"

Arsenal tube station was opened by the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (GNP&BR) as Gillespie Road on 15 December 1906.[2] The GNP&BR later renamed the Piccadilly line after the consolidation & nationalisation of the Tube network as London Underground. The original station building and ticket hall were red terracotta-clad buildings designed by Leslie Green, similar to neighbouring Holloway Road and Caledonian Road stations.

At the time of Gillespie Road's construction, it served a residential area and a local divinity college. In 1913, Arsenal Football Club moved to Highbury on the site of the college's playing fields, and the club's presence there eventually led to a campaign for a change of name. Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman was a particularly keen advocate, and on 5 November 1932 it was renamed Arsenal (Highbury Hill).[3] The station was expanded in the 1930s, with the original station building demolished and being replaced with a wider building of a more modern design.

The (Highbury Hill) suffix was dropped from the station's name some time around 1960, giving the current name of Arsenal.[b] The original tiled walls of the platforms still bear the Gillespie Road name, spelt out in large letters. In 2007, the station underwent a major upgrade; as part of this the wall tiling was completely restored, the floor resurfaced and an electronic Tannoy system introduced.[8]


Passageway linking the tunnels to the ticket office, looking towards the latter. Note tidal flow segregation, in operation on football match days (fans using the wider section).

The station is in a narrow Victorian residential street: when built, the station building was squeezed incongruously between residential properties on each side, occupying the width of just two terraced houses. Even after the surface building was rebuilt in the early 1930s and widened, with a further house being demolished, it has one of the narrowest frontages of any underground station. It is also unusual in not having any bus routes pass its entrance, though routes 4, 19, 106 and 236 serve nearby Blackstock Road.[9]

Unusually for a "deep level" tube station, Arsenal possesses neither escalators nor lifts. Instead, a sloping passageway leads down to the platforms. This is due to the combination of the tunnels being both relatively shallow at this point and being some distance from the station entrance (being underneath the East Coast Main Line). Due to short flights of stairs at both ends of the passageway the station is not wheelchair accessible. When the station was rebuilt in the early 1930s an extra tunnel was dug to platform level from the main access passage in anticipation of increased traffic, which is now used to handle the large crowds on match days. The station has a "tidal" system unique on the Underground network, with a narrow section on one side divided from the main passageway by a full-height fence. The narrow section is used on match days for the lighter flow, according to time of day—for passengers catching trains before matches, or leaving the station afterwards.


Map of Arsenal's old and new stadiums in relation to Arsenal tube station

The station is located in a residential area, away from any main roads, and is considerably less busy than other stations on the same stretch of line. In 2007 only 2.735 million entries and exits were recorded, compared with Holloway Road's 7.487m and Caledonian Road's 5.333m. It is largely deserted outside rush hours except on Arsenal match days.[10]

In 2006 Arsenal FC moved to a new stadium, the Emirates Stadium. The stadium is on the site of Ashburton Grove, a former industrial estate approximately 500 yards from Highbury, and closer to Drayton Park and Holloway Road stations. However, Drayton Park (along with the rest of the Northern City Line) is closed on weekends and weekday evenings, and trains do not stop at Holloway Road before and after matches to prevent overcrowding. Arsenal station meanwhile is still within easy walking distance of the new stadium and is recommended by the club for use on match days.[11] The station thus still retains the "Arsenal" name and, along with Finsbury Park and Highbury & Islington, is still used by many Arsenal supporters to get to matches.

As part of the commemoration of Arsenal's move, a temporary mural was placed along the walls of the station passageways as part of London Underground's Art on the Underground scheme.[12] It was unveiled in February and removed in September 2006.


  1. ^ Several tube stations, including West Ham and Wimbledon, share their names with football clubs, but only Arsenal was named directly after a club rather than the associated area.
  2. ^ An early 1960 edition[4] of the Tube map shows the "Highbury Hill" suffix but one from later in 1960[5] shows it without. No subsequent maps include the suffix.[6][7]


  1. ^ a b c d "Multi-year station entry-and-exit figures" (XLS). London Underground station passenger usage data. Transport for London. 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "London Underground history 1900-1909". Archived from the original on 2012-03-21. 
  3. ^ "Local tube station changes to 'Arsenal'". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. 
  4. ^ "Early 1960 tube map". Archived from the original on 2002-12-04. 
  5. ^ "Late 1960 tube map" (JPG). Archived from the original on 2004-11-06. 
  6. ^ "The London Tube Map Archive". Archived from the original on 2007-08-11. 
  7. ^ "A History of the London Tube Maps". Archived from the original on 2007-08-15. 
  8. ^ "Modernisation of Arsenal station continues". Transport for London. 21 February 2007. Archived from the original on 2012-04-25. 
  9. ^ "Buses from Arsenal / Emirates Stadium" (PDF). Transport for London. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. 
  10. ^ "London Underground: Entries and exits". Transport for London. Archived from the original on 2012-09-25. 
  11. ^ "Get to... Emirates Stadium". Archived from the original on 2009-03-03. 
  12. ^ "Platform for Art: Arsenal Football Club’s last season at Highbury". Transport for London. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceding station   Underground no-text.svg London Underground   Following station
Piccadilly line
towards Cockfosters