A set of disused tunnels at Knightsbridge tube station are set to come back into use, if plans for a major redevelopment of the buildings above are approved.
A developer owns the entire block of shops above ground and plans to strip out the centre and rebuild the site, and in doing so, has opened up an opportunity for London Underground to revamp its station entrances.
Currently, Knightsbridge station has two entrances, at either end of the platforms — heading towards Harrods, or the other way, towards Harvey Nicks and Slone Street. It is the small corner exit at the Harvey Nicks end that is set to be demolished.
For context, when the station originally opened in 1906, it had two entrances, one a few doors along from the current corner site, and another at the back, leading to side streets.
Access to the platforms was by the then standard design of a couple of lift shafts.
Photo copyright London Transport Museum
In the early 1930s, the lifts were replaced with escalators, and a new ticket hall was constructed under the corner of the building, where it remains today. The old entrance was demolished, while the back street exit remains, but is now offices. The lift shafts and the corridors to them still remain down there though, with the lift shafts used for ventilation, and the old pedestrian tunnels, still lined with original green and blue tiles used for storage.
But otherwise, sealed off and forgotten.
You can see the abandoned tunnels and lift shafts in the drawing below, and just about as the thin pink loop under the building in the 3D-renders.
It is these tunnels that will come back into use to re-open the lost back-street exit, and in doing so, offer step-free access down to the disused corridor, which takes passengers to a set of steps leading to the platforms.
Not quite a train-to-street grade of step-free access, but close.
Although the old Basil Street station entrance still exists, the plans see a new entrance constructed a few metres away, fitting in more with modern TfL access requirements.
It is proposed on the ground and first floor of the corner of Hooper’s Court and Basil Street to strip the current cladding of white paint from the ox-blood red tiles and return them to their original appearance. The interior detailing is believed to be lost.
The old entrance to the underground station within the tiled facade is proposed as an entrance to the café/deli.
In addition, a new main entrance will be constructed on Brompton Road to replace the small corner exit. Passengers will still head towards the current exit (marked as D on the map above), and then a tunnel will loop around over the escalator to the new entrance.
In addition, the new location allows for a more than doubling of the width of the pavement outside the station entrance, by removing a traffic island in the road.
The application is currently waiting for approval — or rejection — by the local council.
Images above from the planning application, and London Transport Museum.