diamond geezer

 Friday, December 15, 2006

Brompton Road station
Brompton Road stationStation opened: Saturday 15th December 1906
Where on the tube map? Between South Kensington and Knightsbridge (station 7 here)
Distance from South Kensington station: 500m northeast
Distance from Knightsbridge station: 700m southwest
Location: on Cottage Place near its junction with Brompton Road [map]
Alight here for: the Brompton Oratory, the large domed Catholic basilica which stands opposite the station entrance. It's well worth a look inside just to gawp at the glorious ostentation of the interior. Marvel at the intricate decoration, the elaborate side-chapels, the tall marble columns, the vaulted roof, the whole overbearing experience. Forgive me, I may possibly be underselling the magnificence of the building. And, for someone like me unused to Catholic spaces, it's strange to be surrounded by so much pious public activity. There are candles to be lit, and stone bowls like birdbaths for dipping hands in, and hassocks to kneel on, and altars for genuflecting in front of, and a series of wardrobe-sized wooden cabinets each labelled with the name of a father confessor. I felt appropriately awed, and duly welcome, but not quite as if I belonged.
Also alight here for: the Victoria and Albert Museum, just down the road. Rather quicker than walking through the long subway from South Kensington, anyway.
Station building designed by: Leslie W Green, as were so many of the other 1906 Piccadilly line stations
A bit of history: The station was never busy, being a bit too close to its neighbouring stations to be worthwhile. Even as early as 1909 not all Piccadilly line trains bothered to stop here, and "Passing Brompton Road" became a bit of a joke, even immortalised in West End lights. A new southern exit from Knightsbridge station, close to Harrods, provided the last nail in the station's coffin.
Station closed: Monday 30th July 1934
What happened next? The station, along with liftshafts and various underground passageways, was used during World War Two as the capital's Royal Artillery's Anti-Aircraft Operations Room. This use was discontinued in the 1950s. The surface building is still owned by the military and is currently used as the London HQ of the University of London Air Squadron.
Brompton Road station, plus dogWhat's the station like now? It's quite innocuous, really [photo]. You'd probably never notice the station frontage up a sidestreet if you were walking up the Brompton Road because this was only ever a tiled facade, never a separate building in its own right. It remains as elegant as before, but now surrounded by more ordinary modern buildings and with an extra nondescript storey layered on top. The station door is firmly locked, with a pushbutton answerphone to one side for air force admittance. Press 3 for ATC Wing HQ, 8 for ULAS Sqn Adjt and 5 for a Mess.
What's outside? Sandwiched between the station and the Oratory is a cut-through alley with three parallel grey pathways. The well-heeled of Kensington walk up and down, shuttling between posh shops and their even posher villas beyond. Ladies are usually impossibly well coutured, and botoxed within an inch of their lives. But they're not too proud to allow their exercising hounds to defecate on the weedy strip of grass in front of the old station, and then scoop up the offending excrement in a plastic bag. Delightful.
What can you still see from a passing train? Not much, because the platforms have been bricked off. All you'll see as your train passes through the disused station is the tunnel wall changing from black to brick and back to black again.
What does the station look like inside? There's a very informative page with photographs here.
Will the station ever be reopened? Not a chance.

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