Site Records

Site Name: South Kensington Station (Piccadilly Line & District Line) - Disused tunnels and subways and the District Line deep level express line

Junction of Old Brompton Road & Pelham Street
London, SW3.
OS Grid Ref: TQ269788

Sub Brit site visit 2009

[Source: Nick Catford]

The abandoned partially-built MDR platform tunnel found a number of later uses. During World War I it was used for the safe storage of treasures from the Victoria & Albert Museum and china from Buckingham Palace. In about 1927 it housed a signal school with some track being laid including a set of points, a train stop and examples of various different signals for staff training. At this time a section of the tunnel was also converted into a lecture theatre with seating for 60 with desks, blackboard, projector and screen.

LPTB Emergency Headquarters
At the outbreak of World War II, the signal school closed and the tunnel was used as an emergency headquarters for the London Passenger Transport Board's engineering services and it was divided into two levels to increase the available space. It also housed equipment for detecting bombs with delayed action fuses that had been dropped into the Thames. Hydrophones in the river bed transmitted signals back to South Kensington. This information was used determine when to close the floodgates that had been installed at
the under-river crossings on the underground railway network.

Back on the surface, the reversing track between the two island platforms was taken out of use in 1957 and the gap filled forming one wide island. The two side platforms (Platforms 1 and 4) were taken out of use in January 1968 and March 1969 respectively. The tracks for these platforms were also removed and platform 4 was subsequently demolished.

The disused bay platforms in 1958. This has now been filled in to form a single wide platform
As part of an ongoing programme to replace lifts by escalators, a reconstruction programme for South Kensington station was first announced as part of the pre-war New Works programme in 1936 but it wasn't until 1970 that London Transport announced its intention to replace the two remaining 1907 lifts with escalators. In 1971 work on two new flights of escalators was started. The lower set of three (22.1ft vertical rise) which led up to an intermediate level concourse was ready for use from 30th September 1973; the upper pair (34.5ft) from 20 January 1974. During the construction, the new lower escalator shaft
intersected the deep level MDR platform tunnel and the new westbound access subways were constructed in the space occupied by part of this tunnel. A short section at the east end of the tunnel survives and now carries cables although it is barely recognisable for what it once was.

Photo:The disused former Metropolitan Line eastbound platform in June 2008
Photo by Marco Cebral de Mours

An improved ticket hall serving both the Piccadilly and District Lines was operational from 21st October 1973 and the last two Piccadilly lifts were taken out of service and dismantled. The shaft for the emergency stairs was filled with a concrete plug top and bottom. Following the replacement of the original lifts with escalators, the GNP&BR station building on Pelham
Street has not been used to provide access to the tube platforms and now houses station offices. One of the lift shafts is now used for forced air ventilation with a fan being installed on the top while the adjacent shaft remains open. The remainder of the terrace of which it once formed a part has been demolished. It is possible that the entrance may be reinstated as a means by which the mobility impaired may access the tube platforms.

Photo:The Piccadilly line lower lift landing taken out of use in October 1973
Photo by Nick Catford

The present layout of the surface platforms at South Kensington is Platform 1 (formerly Platform 3): District and Circle Lines westbound and Platform 2: District and Circle Lines eastbound. There are points east of the station which allow westbound trains to terminate here and then crossover to the eastbound track. The main station entrance is located at the junction of Old
Brompton Road (A3218), Thurloe Place, Harrington Road, Onslow Place and Pelham Street. The building, which incorporates a shopping arcade is Grade II listed. Subsidiary entrances are located in Exhibition Road giving access by pedestrian tunnel to the Natural History, Science, and Victoria and Albert Museums.

The disused entrance to the Piccadilly line platforms in December 2009, typical Leslie Green frontage
Photo by Nick Catford

For further information and pictures of this site click here

[Source: Nick Catford]

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Last updated: 04 01 2011
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