top of page

In Plain Sight

Question: When is an underground station, not an underground station? Answer: When it's a hotel.

Central London has a number of what are called Ghost Stations, stations that were closed usually because passenger numbers made the station unprofitable. Added to that many original station buildings have been demolished, which is probably due to the other side of the unprofitable station. Some of the more popular stations suffered from poor access, causing congestion during peak hours and so these buildings were demolished and better access points were put in their place.

A couple of weeks ago I was walking around the fringes of Hyde Park. Having travelled on the Piccadilly line, I got off at Hyde Park Corner and emerged from the subterranean concourse up the steps to pavement level. Hyde Park Corner is one of twenty stations on the network that don't have their own pavement level building. Some have access built into other buildings and others like Hyde Park Corner just have steps leading down to the ticket concourse with no access building.

It's not a station I've used many times, and so I thought little of it. Having walked around the park I emerged back onto Knightsbridge and walked along the street to catch a bus. Having several minutes to wait, my attention wandered towards some of the large buildings that fringed the park.

They have very little to endear them, nondescript blocks of varying decades, a bit of Victorian mixed with 1950s & 60s. All of which apart from one hideous black 1980s building have a sandstone hue to them. My eye was drawn a small patch of bright colour on one of the older buildings with some beautiful ox blood tiling.

There's only one person who used these tiles to a great extent, architect Leslie Green, who designed many of the early underground stations in London. His style is evocative of the era and is unmistakable once you know what you're looking at.

The building I was looking at was called the Wellesley Hotel, a nod to the Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley who had his home nearby. Looking closely at the facade you can see the unmistakable arched windows and colour scheme of Leslie Green's design.

The Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway, now the Piccadilly line opened Hyde Park Corner station in 1907. The distinct Leslie Green designed station was sited where the hotel now stands. The surface building contained the ticket hall and lifts took passengers down to platform level. It became a busy station and the lift format caused large queues and overcrowding at peak times.

The station was closed in 1932 and work was carried out to provide a larger sub terranean ticket hall with five subway entrances and escalators leading down to platform level and so the old surface building was no longer required.

I've yet to find out what the building was used for after the station entrance was closed, but the photo above shows it from around 2010 as a pizza restaurant, with it's conversion to a hotel from 2012.

5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page