Every few minutes, Piccadilly line trains to or from Heathrow rumble directly past the quaint Osterley Bookshop — but they once stopped here.
This is no mere bookshop, but a ghost station, reincarnated. The Hansel and Gretel-like cottage, with its mini-cupola and tombstone-shaped windows, was Osterley Park and Spring Grove station, opened in 1883 along the Hounslow & Metropolitan Railway.
It closed in 1934, making way for the art deco Osterley station — designed by Stanley Heaps rather than Charles Holden — which lies a few minutes' walk around the corner, and is quite possibly how you'll arrive here.
Bargain books and Ordnance Survey maps on display outside preface the cornucopia of titles inside. At first the assortment of readables might seem a jumble (it's the kind of musty-smelling bookshop you can get lost in for hours), but in fact, it's lovingly curated. 'Bizarre books' and 'Ghouls and ghosties' are among the categories. Unfortunately, we couldn't find the section allegedly labelled 'Bond, James Bond.'
The bookshop has been run by the same couple, Tony and Pennie, since the mids 1960s, and you get the feeling it hasn't changed all that much over the years. If this was still a tube station and you were waiting for a train, you wouldn't need to go on your phone or begrudgingly pick up a copy of the Metro.
There's no section on trains, but London-centrics will be sated with a corner dedicated to the capital. There's even a section of a carousel stocked up with London-centric cards.
It isn't just books for sale: you may come away with a set of mismatched mother of pearl buttons, reading glasses, vintage crockery or houseplants and herbs.
Free range eggs are also sold at the counter, although they were fresh out on our visit. Purchases are rung up on a till so old that it still works in shillings. There's also a card machine these days (well, if this was still a station, it'd need to have contactless capabilities).
If Osterley seems a bit of a schlep to buy a secondhand tome, work it into a day trip to Osterley House and Park; the bookshop sits right on its doorstep. Or stop off en route to the airport: you're bound to find something far more engrossing in here than in your average WHSmith.
Osterley Bookshop, 168A Thornbury Road, Osterley, Isleworth TW7 4QE