A Piccadilly Line Tube station, abandoned in the 1930s because of a low number of passengers, might have found a fresh lease of life. The Old London Underground Company yesterday advanced plans to redevelop Brompton Road station as a local attraction.
The company's owner Ajit Chambers has been doggedly fighting to reopen London's ghost stations for several years now. He's encountered many obstructions, but seems to have finally found the golden ticket in Brompton Road, announcing yesterday that "Proceedings began this morning to purchase our first abandoned Underground station". The station sits right next to Brompton Oratory, and a very short walk from the South Kensington museums and Harrods.
If redeveloped, the station complex would include a rooftop dining terrace, guided tours, and climbing walls inside the ventilation shafts. Given that the station was also used to command defensive guns during WWII, and contains relics such as a giant map of gun emplacements in London, we'd also expect the site to be marketed as a significant historical attraction.
Baubles aside, any space that can carry the adjectives 'secret', 'abandoned' and 'subterranean' is sure to be a hit with both tourists and Londoners, who dependably snap up tickets for the rare openings of Aldwych station. Tickets for one-off tours of similar spaces, such as the Kingsway tram tunnel and the Thames Tunnel, have also sold fast. The business model for an ongoing operation at a Tube station remains to be proven, but a permanent attraction would open up the lucrative possibility of corporate event hosting.
Brompton Road is largely owned by the Ministry of Defence, whereas most other abandoned Tube stations are maintained (or not) by Transport for London. This difference of ownership seems to have made the process of acquisition easier. If the Old London Underground Company can make a success of Brompton Road, perhaps TfL can be persuaded to sell some of its own properties, such as the nearby Down Street, used by Winston Churchill during WWII.
It's not reported who the private investors in the project are, nor whether the purchase will include the platform levels of the station, which are still owned by Transport for London and might be difficult to bring into use.
Our recent tour of Brompton Road station.