The station was originally intended to be the southern terminus of the Great Northern and Strand Railway, running from Finsbury Park in the north, under Kings Cross station, and eventually to a point near the Strand. In the event, the GN&SR was merged with two other proposed tubes to form the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (later known as the Piccadilly Line), and the section to Strand became a mere branch. Although two tubes were constructed, they only connected to the main line of the Piccadilly in one direction.
The station was opened as Strand station on November 30, 1907, and was only ever served by a shuttle service to Holborn, except for a single late-night service which ran through to Finsbury Park for the benefit of theatre-goers. This was withdrawn in 1908, and by 1912 the original two-train shuttle had been reduced to one train. The branch officially became a single-track working in 1918.
The station was renamed to "Aldwych" in 1917 so that the name Strand could be given to what is now the Northern Line part of Charing Cross tube station. The shuttle service continued to run to Aldwych until 1940, when the branch was closed and the station used as a public air-raid shelter. The branch tunnels were used to store the Elgin Marbles and other artifacts from the British Museum. Service was restored in 1946, and continued until 1994, when the cost of a lift replacement was considered uneconomic, and the branch was closed. Its last day was September 30, 1994.
Over the years the station was a popular location for film and television companies wanting to film on the underground. As the branch was entirely self-contained and closed at weekends, its facilities could be put at the disposal of film crews much more easily than those of more active parts of the underground. The station's second platform, closed since 1917, was used for many years to test mock-ups of new designs for platforms at other stations. Both these uses of the station continued after its closure.
The closed station still has many of its original 1907 features, including tiling and signage. The surface building is now hired out for events, funtions and art exhibitions. It is visible from the road, and bears the original Strand name, and contains a photo booth.