“The station was planned by the Great Northern and Strand Railway (GN&SR), which had received parliamentary approval for a route from Wood Green station (now Alexandra Palace) to Strand in 1899. After the GN&SR was taken over by the Brompton and Piccadilly Circus Railway (B&PCR) in September 1901, the two companies came under the control of Charles Yerkes’ Metropolitan District Electric Traction Company before being transferred to his new holding company, the Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL) in June 1902. To connect the two companies’ planned routes, the UERL obtained permission for new tunnels between Piccadilly Circus and Holborn. The companies were formally merged as the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway following parliamentary approval in November 1902.
The linking of the GN&SR and B&PCR routes at Holborn meant that the section of the GN&SR south of Holborn became a branch from the main route.
As with most of the other GNP&BR stations, the station building was designed by Leslie Green, though at Holborn the station frontage was, uniquely, constructed in stone rather than the standard red glazed terracotta. This was due to planning regulations imposed by the London County Council which required the use of stone for façades in Kingsway. The station entrance and exit sections of the street façade were constructed in granite with the other parts of the ground and first floors in the same style, but using Portland stone.
The original station façades on Kingsway and High Holborn were uniquely of (red) granite but were destroyed by 1930s replacements. The adjacent façades at ground and first floor of the building in which the station is situated were built to the same design using portland stone.
The rest of the building above first floor level was constructed contemporaneously with the station. Access to the platform levels of the station was provided by trapezium-shaped electric lifts manufactured by Otis in America. These operated in pairs in shared circular shafts, with an escape stair in a separate, smaller shaft.
Although the station was constructed where the GNP&BR’s tunnels crossed those of the Central London Railway (CLR, now the Central line) running under High Holborn, no interchange between the two lines was made as the CLR’s nearest station, British Museum, was 250 metres (820 ft) to the west. Passengers wishing to interchange between the two stations had to do so at street level.
The station opened on 15 December 1906, although the opening of the branch was delayed until 30 November 1907. Until the 1960s the station was named Holborn (Kingsway). The suffix was only gradually dropped, as it was still displayed on the platform roundels until the 1980s.”