Arsenal is a London Underground station located in Highbury, London. It is on the Piccadilly line, between Holloway Road and Finsbury Park stations, in Travelcard Zone 2. 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 in the United Kingdom. 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.
The station is located on a narrow Victorian residential street, away from any main roads. It is also unusual in not having any bus routes pass its entrance, though routes 4, 19, 106 and 236 serve nearby Blackstock Road.
Arsenal tube station was opened by the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (GNP&BR) as Gillespie Road on 15 December 1906. The GNP&BR was later renamed the Piccadilly line after the consolidation and 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 stations such as Holloway Road and Caledonian Road.
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 31 October 1932 it was renamed Arsenal (Highbury Hill). 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. 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 was introduced.
When the station was 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.
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.
The station 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.
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. 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. It was unveiled in February 2006 and removed in the September.
Train frequencies vary throughout the day, but generally operate every 2-6 minutes between 06:22 and 00:19 in both directions.
No bus routes directly serve the station. However, London Bus routes 4, 19, 29, 91, 106, 153, 236, 253, 254 and 259 and night routes N19, N29, N91, N253 and N279 are all nearby.