A sign posted outside of the Aldwich Station in London. Image © Tim Allen / www.timallenphoto.co.uk.
Last week-end, photographer Tim Allen noticed a sign outside London's Aldwych Underground station banning the use of digital SLRs in the abandoned station. The sign reads: "Due to their combination of high-quality sensor and high resolution, digital SLR cameras are unfortunately not permitted inside the station".
Speaking to BJP, Wendy Neville, a spokeswoman for the London Transport Museum, which administers the station, explains the ban: "Terms and conditions for the recent sale of tickets to visit Aldwych Underground station clearly stated that digital SLR cameras were not permitted, as these are classed as professional equipment."
"There was not a ban on taking photos during tours," she adds. "However, there were restrictions on professional cameras and tripods because we were concerned that people using them could delay the tours for others, as it was a very tight schedule with more than 2500 visitors going up and down a spiral staircase of about 160 steps to get to and from the platforms."
She adds: "We wanted to make the tours as enjoyable and safe as we could for everyone. With the huge public interest in seeing the disused Tube station it was better to have the event with this restriction rather than no visit at all. We apologise to visitors who wanted to use this kind of camera during tours to the stations."
Asked to explain how professional DSLRs, as opposed to other photographic equipment, could delay the tours, Neville says that "some DSLRs are big," and that the London Transport Museum didn't want to risk the safety of the majority of people for a "minority."
She adds: "The important thing to take from this is that we were able to make that event happen. A lot of people volunteered their time."
However, the London Transport Museum has yet to explain why its sign blamed the high-quality sensor and high resolution of DSLRs for the ban, while its most recent statement claimed the cameras were banned for safety reasons.
UPDATE: BJP has filed a Freedom of Information request with Transport For London, asking for all information relating to the decision to ban DSLRs at Aldwych Underground Station. Here is TfL's answer.
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