In the long history of the London Underground, many stations have had changes of names. I don’t think there’s been a more confusing history than that of those that have held the name “Strand”.
Going back to the tail end of the “Tube boom” of the turn of the 20th Century, the Piccadilly line’s final route emerged after years of haggling, legal work, and the merging of three companies, one of which had proposed a route from Wood Green to the Strand. The northern part of this line wouldn’t be completed for another few decades, but the southern part included a branch line from Holborn to Strand Station, which opened in 1907.
As Clive’s Underground Line Guide says about this branch:
The erstwhile Aldwych branch has always been a curiosity. It was left over from the GN&SR route when the Piccadilly to Holborn section was added, and it remains unclear why it was ever built. Although the GN&SR powers to build north of Finsbury Park were formally abandoned, the same didn’t happen here. It is possible that attempts were made but Parliament rejected them; if so, no record has been left.
The branch is located directly under the Kingsway and its tram subway, which were being constructed at about the same time as the Piccadilly. Tunnelling for the branch had to wait until they were finished, and it opened after the rest of the line. Before construction even started the Yerkes group applied to have it extended to Temple, but they were only allowed to go as far as the south side of the Strand.
Further adding to the mystery is the strange track layout. Though the branch was constructed as double track, it was done in a way that meant it could not be integrated with the rest of the line. The eastern (“southbound”) track connected to the northbound at Holborn, while the western track terminated in a separate bay. Furthermore, the two tracks were connected by only a single crossover just south of Holborn. The platforms at both stations were also much shorter than those on the rest of the line.
All of this left the station something of a curiosity for the 82 years it was in service. Adding to the confusion, the name (despite being carved into the elegant tiles of the station facade) was changed in 1915 to Aldwych.
However, there was another station about to join the story. As the name of the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway might suggest, its southern terminus was at the main-line station of the same name. After the line was extended to Embankment, the names of the stations were shuffled; in 1915, the original Charing Cross became Strand, while the new station was Charing Cross (Embankment).
For over fifty years, this was how the names stood. At one end of the road was Strand Station, whose line was renamed the Northern in 1933, while at the other was Aldwych, running a shuttle service on the Piccadilly. Just south of Strand was Charing Cross (Embankment).
The coming of the Jubilee Line in the mid 1970s proved to be the point at which all this changed. For its southern terminus, the Bakerloo line station at Trafalgar Square (which had carried that name since opening in 1906) was to be combined with the Northern Line station at Strand, and the new Jubilee Line platforms. This station was to be renamed Charing Cross, while the station one stop south was renamed Embankment.
In 1994, Aldwych closed, but its classic station buildings are still clearly visible. In 1999, the Jubilee Line stopped serving Charing Cross, but the once-separate stations were left connected.
There’s one final curiosity to confuse you further. For some reason, Google Maps shows the old Strand/Aldwych tube station building as “Aldwych tram station”. This was actually on the Kingsway tram tunnel, just north of Bush House. That station was demolished when the southern part of the tunnel was converted to what is now the Strand Underpass, which users of the 521 bus will know well. (The northern part of the tunnel is still around, but not in use. You can see the entrance on Southampton Row.)
Just to try and summarise all of that, here’s a table.
I think that’s far too much tube dorkery for one day.