Down Street tube station

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Down Street
Down Street tube station, Down Street, London
Location
Place Mayfair
Local authority City of Westminster
Coordinates 51°30′16″N 0°08′51″W / 51.50444°N 0.14750°W / 51.50444; -0.14750Coordinates: 51°30′16″N 0°08′51″W / 51.50444°N 0.14750°W / 51.50444; -0.14750
History
Opened by Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway
Platforms 2
Key dates Opened 1907
Closed 1932
Replaced by None
Portal icon London Transport portal

Down Street, also known as Down Street (Mayfair), is a disused station of the London Underground's Piccadilly line, which closed in 1932. During World War II it was used as an air-raid shelter, notably by Winston Churchill and his War Cabinet.

History[edit]

Plan of station at the lower level as originally built

Down Street station lies between Green Park and Hyde Park Corner on the Piccadilly line. Evidence of its presence can be identified through the train windows between these stations by a change in the tunnel surface from the blackened cast iron segments to a section of beige brickwork. The station was opened by the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (precursor to the Piccadilly line) on 15 March 1907, a few months after the rest of the line. The surface building was on Down Street, just off Piccadilly in Mayfair. It was never a busy station, as the surrounding area was largely residential and its residents were too wealthy to be regular tube passengers. The neighbouring stations were also fairly close by.

Down Street station on 1912 map (note earlier name of "Dover Street" for Green Park)
How Down Street might appear on the London Underground Map today if it had remained open

Like Brompton Road, Down Street was often skipped by trains. In 1929 it was one of the stations mooted for closure in connection with the extension of the Piccadilly line: the elimination of less-busy stations in the central area would improve both reliability and journey times for long-distance commuters. Additionally, the neighbouring stations were being rebuilt with escalators in place of lifts, and their new entrances were nearer to Down Street, further squeezing its small catchment area. The station closed on 21 May 1932.

After the station was closed it was almost immediately modified. The western headwalls of both platform tunnels were modified to allow a step plate junction (a junction where tunnels of differing diameters join—the step is the vertical wall filling the gap between them) to be installed, providing access to a new siding located between Down Street and Hyde Park Corner stations. In 1939, the platform faces were bricked up and the resulting space used as an underground bunker. The main wartime occupants of the station were the Emergency Railway Committee, but it was also used by Churchill and the war cabinet until the Cabinet War Rooms were ready for use. Since the end of the war the station has been used only as an emergency access point to the tube. The surface building, designed by Leslie Green, is still standing.

In popular culture[edit]

Film & TV appearances[edit]

Part of the 2004 British horror film Creep was set in the Down Street tube station, although the scenes were actually shot at the disused Aldwych tube station and on studio sets.

A sequence in the James Bond film Die Another Day is set in an 'abandoned' Tube station called Vauxhall Cross. The station is supposedly used as a neutral ground for MI6 illegals (officially nonexistent agents) to be given missions by M. A visible track-side line diagram places the station north/east of Hyde Park Corner, which suggests that it is actually Down Street, but for the fact that the real station is some 2.6 km (1.6 mi) away from the real Vauxhall Cross, and trains still run through Down Street.

The TV series and novel Neverwhere are mostly set in a medieval-fantasy world with locations named after tube stations such as Blackfriars and Knightsbridge; the finale is located in an area known as Down Street, and one scene of the TV series was filmed on the remaining open section of platform at Down Street, with real trains passing by in the background.

In Billy Connolly's World Tour Of England, Ireland And Wales, Billy takes a tour of the Down Street station, explaining the heritage and showcasing the various rooms Winston Churchill and his war cabinet are believed to have once occupied.

Episode 1 of Dan Cruickshank's Great Railway Adventures (a National Geographic Channel 2010 documentary series about the history of Britain's railways) explores the station's role as control centre for all of Great Britain's railways moving military supplies and personnel during the 1939 - 1945 War

In Episode 6 of the 2012 TV Series The Tube, Down Street is featured. A member of staff takes the film crew around the station while undertaking a check up, telling the crew about the station and why it closed. The episode shows areas where Churchill worked during the war and the old platforms now in the tunnel.[clarification needed] On hearing a noise after a train has passed through the station, the staff mention a reputed ghost that used to be reported by London Underground staff.

Music[edit]

The British band Hefner released a song titled "Down Street", on their 2006 album Catfight; according to its sleeve notes, it is set in the early 1930s and tells the story of two lovers who meet at the station. Steve Hackett also recorded a song titled "Down Street", on his 2006 album Wild Orchids, about the station in its disused state.[1]

Video Games[edit]

In the game Shadow Man, Down Street is the home stage of Jack the Ripper, one of the main antagonists in the game.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gerlach, Steffen. Klinkhardt, Martin, ed. "Steve Hackett - Wild Orchids - Review - Street Date: 11 September 2006". Genesis-news.com. 
  • Connor, J. E. (2001). London's Disused Underground Stations. Capital Transport. pp. 28–33. 

External links[edit]

  Former Route  
Preceding station   Underground no-text.svg London Underground   Following station
Piccadilly line
towards Cockfosters