Mystery Ukrainian billionaire plans to turn 'ghost' tube station that was used by Winston Churchill into flats after buying it for £50million

  • Brompton Road station closed in 1934 due to lack of passengers
  • During WW2 the tube station housed Churchill's anti-aircraft operations
  • Hitler's right-hand man Rudolf Hess was reportedly interrogated there
  • The new owner outbid members of the Qatari Royal Family

By Leon Watson

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A mystery investor has bought a disused London Underground tube station from the Ministry of Defence for £50million.

Brompton Road station, on the old Piccadilly line near Harrods, opened in 1906 but closed in 1934 due to lack of passengers.

During the Second World War the tube station housed Winston Churchill's anti-aircraft operations HQ and Hitler's right-hand man Rudolf Hess was reportedly interrogated there.

The disused London Underground Brompton Road Station contains a drill hall, garages, offices and mess as well as underground rooms, staircases and tunnels.

The disused London Underground Brompton Road Station contains a drill hall, garages, offices and mess as well as underground rooms, staircases and tunnels

Landmark: The building features the oxblood-red tiled facade and semi-circular windows typical of architect Leslie Green's style

Landmark: The building features the oxblood-red tiled facade and semi-circular windows typical of architect Leslie Green's style

The MoD bought the station in 1938 for £22,000 to use as a training facility but have now sold it as part of cost-cutting measures.

It was snapped up by a mystery Ukrainian billionaire for the eye-watering sum of £50million after a fierce bidding war.

 

The new owner outbid members of the Qatari Royal Family to snap up the 28,000sq ft real estate - and announced plans to turn the building into a series of luxury apartments.

But not everybody is happy that the old station is to be turned into new flats.

Ghost station: The historic 28,000 sq ft building is being sold off by the MoD in a bid to help raise £60m for frontline troops

Ghost station: The historic 28,000 sq ft building was sold off by the MoD as part of a cost cutting exercise

Spooky: The passages where commuters would have made their way to platforms in the early 20th century remain today

Spooky: The passages where commuters would have made their way to platforms in the early 20th century remain today

Leslie Green: Brompton Road was one of a number of Tube stations designed by the English architect, who favoured the Arts and Crafts style

Leslie Green: Brompton Road was one of a number of Tube stations designed by the English architect, who favoured the Arts and Crafts style

Remains: Switch gear used during the building's days as an Underground station still remain today

Remains: Switch gear used during the building's days as an Underground station still remain today

Ajit Chambers, of the Old London Underground Company, said: 'We have lost a big piece of our heritage to foreign investors.'

Brompton Road Tube opened in 1906 by the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (GNP&BR) on the Piccadilly Line, positioned between Knightsbridge and South Kensington.

The building was designed by English architect Leslie Green and features his distinctive oxblood-red tiled facade and semi-circular first floor windows.

New life: 'Boris bikes' are seen lined up outside the Leslie Green-designed station in Knightsbridge as it looks today

New life: 'Boris bikes' are seen lined up outside the Leslie Green-designed station in Knightsbridge as it looks today

Historic links: The former Underground station and WWII command centre could be transformed into a tourist attraction

Historic links: The former Underground station and WWII command centre could be transformed into flats

Distinctive: The green interior tiles remain inside the Leslie Green-designed station today

Distinctive: The green interior tiles remain inside the Leslie Green-designed station today

Eerie: A bricked off tunnel deep beneath the ground at the old Brompton Road Tube station

Eerie: A bricked off tunnel deep beneath the ground at the old Brompton Road Tube station

Varied past: The building is currently occupied by the London University Air Squadron, the London University Royal Naval Unit, and 46F Squadron Air Training Corps

Varied past: The building is currently occupied by the London University Air Squadron, the London University Royal Naval Unit, and 46F Squadron Air Training Corps

Danger: Brompton Road ceased to be used as a tube station in 1934

Danger: Brompton Road ceased to be used as a tube station in 1934

On the market: The MoD is hoping the former Tube station will fetch an eight figure sum when it is marketed by agents Jones Lang LaSalle in September

On the market: The MoD is hoping the former Tube station will fetch an eight figure sum when it is marketed by agents Jones Lang LaSalle in September

Safety measures: A metal fire escape at the old Underground station on London's Brompton Road

Safety measures: A metal fire escape at the old Underground station on London's Brompton Road

London's hidden network: Warning notices hang inside Brompton Road station in central London

London's hidden network: Warning notices hang inside Brompton Road station in central London

Warnings: Everything at track and platform level at Brompton Road remains in the ownership of Transport for London, which has no involvement in the sale of the building

Warnings: Everything at track and platform level at Brompton Road remains in the ownership of Transport for London, which has no involvement in the sale of the building

War years: The Royal Artillery ran its anti-aircraft operations room from Brompton Road during the Second World War

War years: The Royal Artillery ran its anti-aircraft operations room from Brompton Road during the Second World War

Located at the junction of Brompton Road and Cottage Place, the station was convenient for the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Brompton Oratory, but still saw little traffic.

It was permanently closed in 1934 after it was finally deemed to be too close to the neighbouring stations to be economically viable.

The station was taken over by the War Office to be used as a command centre for the defence of London.

It was from here that the gun batteries dotted around London were coordinated as they tried to shoot down enemy planes during World War Two.

HIDDEN HISTORY: LONDON'S UNDERGROUND GHOST STATIONS

There are understood to be 32 ghost stations across London's underground network, abandoned over the years as lines were diverted or the number of passengers passing through dwindled.

Like Brompton Road, many of the stations have links to the Second World War. Down Street - last used as a station in May 1932, became an air raid shelter after the war broke out, and Aldwych was used by thousands of Londoners during the Blitz.

The empty station in Westminster has been used as a location for films including Atonement, V for Vendetta, Superman 4 and 28 Weeks Later.

Other abandoned stations still remain at City Road, which was on the Northern Line until it closed its doors in 1922, Marlborough Road, which was on the Metropolitan Line, and South Kentish Town, which closed in 1924.

York Road closed in 1932 because it was under-used, while North End is unique in that it is a closed Tube station that never actually opened.

Intended to be the deepest station on the underground network, work on North End stopped in 1906 because it was not deemed financially viable.

Churchill is believed to have visited the command centre to watch over the command of the battle against the Luftwaffe.

It was vacated by the War Office in the 1950s but seventy years on the Ministry of Defence still owns it to a depth of about 60ft underground.

The MoD's jurisdiction ends at a locked gate and beyond this Tube trains still run on the Piccadilly Line.

But evidence of the Royal Artillery's operations centre remains in remarkable condition. Maps of London still hang from the walls of the war room.

The station retains period features including a distinctive brown and green tiling pattern and electrical switch gear.

Brompton Road isn't the only 'ghost station' in London.

Aldwych, initially called Strand, is one of the most famous. It opened in 1907 but its financial viability was perennially in doubt and, after running a peak hours service only for many years, the station closed for good in 1994.

Down Street, near Hyde Park, which closed in 1932, was used as an air raid shelter by Winston Churchill. A bath installed in 1939 has been dubbed “Churchill’s bath”.

The British Museum once had its own Tube station on the Central Line. It opened in 1900 but has not been used by the general public since 1933. Holborn station is a few hundred yards away.

Not viable: The station was conveniently located for Brompton Oratory (pictured), but did not see a lot of traffic through its doors

Not viable: The station was conveniently located for Brompton Oratory (pictured), but did not see a lot of traffic through its doors

Attractions: Brompton Road was also close to the Victoria & Albert Museum (pictured), and Harrods, but was closed permanently as a station in 1934 because it was too close to neighbouring Tube stops

Attractions: Brompton Road was also close to the Victoria & Albert Museum (pictured), and Harrods, but was closed permanently as a station in 1934 because it was too close to neighbouring Tube stops

Churchill is believed to have visited the command centre to watch over the command of the battle against the Luftwaffe

War effort: Developers keen to capitalise on the station's links to Churchill have previously expressed an interest in transforming it into a tourist attraction

Footage courtesy of The Old London Underground Company





 

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

How many more placed did Churchill use?

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This should be kept to use as an emergency exit in case something goes wrong at one of the other stations.

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Another piece of English heritage falling into foreign hands, surely this building could have been utilised for something more usefull than a money making investment by a foreigner developer for foreign buyers, that no British buyer could afford.

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Who was Winston Churchill?

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Easy to object after the event. The buyer saw an opportunity and put his money where his mouth is.....stop whining.

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We are made poorer paying for Eastern Europe & Africa. And their rich get richer, so they can buy us.

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Hope the residents get used to the tube noise.

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This site is a huge piece of British history, I think like other period buildings, it should have been protected before being sold so they buyer was limited to what they could do with it in terms of renovation. Turning it into flats is just an awful idea. What a shame.

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'Old' Piccadilly line? Where's the new one then ?

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'Maybe turn into flats'. I don't think so this will just keep us at bay. Look at subterranean Britain. There is a lot going on underground!!!!!!! All around the world especially afganistan Mexico and antarctica

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