If you follow my Twitter account, last night you might have seen a link I posted there which caused considerable excitement, for London Underground is selling a disused tube station.

Sadly, not an iconic deep level structure, but the former Shoreditch station that used to be the terminus for the East London Line before the line was diverted as part of the Overground extension works. Frankly, it’s a bit of a shed and not that interesting – but nonetheless, a chance to own a disused tube station is pretty unique.

It is being sold off by auction and has a comparatively low reserve price of £180,000 – probably as it straddles the former railway line, so access rights/leases will have to reflect the legal issues of not owning the land under the building.

However, a thought occurs….

You may be familiar with the rather famous address of 23 & 24 Leinster Gardens. Nope?

When the original sub-surface railway was built, to allow the steam to escape from the trains, quite a lot of the “underground” was actually exposed to the air, including a stretch next to a rather posh street in Bayswater. To hide this gaping wound in the ground, a fake façade was built across the railway tracks to replace the building that was demolished.

Fake houses in Leinster Gardens

Compare the windows to identify the fake building

Only on one side though, as the back of the street was less luxurious, so it didn’t get such expensive treatment, and just looks out onto the back of the fake building.

It had often struck me that if someone were able to put a concrete raft over the railway behind that façade, they could build two luxury houses on the spot – but understandably, London Underground is going to be wary of building works over an important part of its network. The financial penalties for the builders if the works ran late one night and delayed trains the next morning would probably bankrupt them.

Even if it were possible, I doubt the neighbours would be too keen on noisy building works at 2am either.

23-24 Leinster Gardens

The rear of the fake building showing the train tracks in the cutting

If only the railway could be closed for a few weeks to allow the works to be carried out safely and during the daytime.

What’s that you say – they are closing the railway? Why yes, as I suddenly remembered this morning that very section of railway track is being closed over a four week period this summer.

What an ideal time to put in the necessary and then sort out the building on top a bit later.

Bearing in mind that just one 3 bedroom flat on the 2nd floor of a similar building on the same street sells for £3.5 million, you can possibly appreciate how much two entire 5-story buildings can sell for.

So:

a) If you are the property department at TfL – here is a chance to put a concrete raft over the tracks and then sell off the leasehold above to a builder.

b) If you are a builder looking for “land” to build on, here is some prime estate in a desirable location.

c) Please both of you remember me when looking at the big pot of cash you are about to make. I’ll appreciate the commission ;)

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13 Comments

  1. I was fascinated by this facade as a seven year old visiting London in the 1960s and even then wondered why they didn’t make it into a proper house.

    Isn’t the fly in our ointment the fact that the ‘concrete raft’ would have to be twenty feet thick to resist the noise and vibration of the trains passing beneath?

  2. IanVisits

    I doubt it – I lived in a block of flats once that sat right on top of the central line as it came up to the surface, and while the ground floor was occasionally noticeable late at night once the “london noise” was quieter, above that floor it was fine.

    Frankly, if the two older buildings either side of the tracks can put up with the vibration, then a building directly above – with modern building materials – will easily cope.

  3. Sadly, my girlfriend has made it quite clear that I may not bid on the disused station, even though I long for a pied-a-terre in London.

  4. I use to work in Shorditch in the early 2000s, and enjoyed traveling on the East London line to the old Shorditch station. It was a magical station, a shame it had to be redeveloped, but time moves on I guess.

    TDG

  5. According to the link to the auction page it sold for £665,000.

  6. Dominic

    Also, the trains don’t pass beneath anymore – they are on a new route, on a bridge above and behind the old station

  7. IanVisits

    I know – but the land below the building still belongs to London Underground.

  8. alison

    sounds really interesting to me when is the auction and how big is the area for sale any idea ?

    • IanVisits

      You might want to check the date of this very old blog post before asking.

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