>>by Adrian Davies
What of the future? The streets around the old station have
long been considered very desirable places to live. The area has
now been rebranded “the Brompton Quarter” and is being actively promoted as a shopping and dining destination. South Kensington
and Knightsbridge stations are always very busy, sometimes unpleasantly
so. Plans to redevelop South Kensington station as a hideous office
block, completely out of character with the area, met with understandable
hostility from the local community, and have been abandoned for
the time being.
One way of alleviating overcrowding at South Kensington and Knightsbridge
stations would be to re-open Brompton Road. The station was much
more convenient than South Kensington for the Victoria and Albert
Museum, the popular Brompton Oratory, and the equally popular Holy
Trinity, Brompton church (an evangelical contrast to the Oratory’s
very traditional Catholic tone).
With the growth of retail outlets and restaurants of every kind,
and a large and affluent resident population, the station’s
catchment area will generate far more traffic than in the days of
Dultitia Sloane, the heroine of Passing Brompton Road, when society
often preferred country houses, and would only come to London for
the season. The north side of the Brompton Road is relatively poorly
served by public transport, and would particularly benefit from
re-opening. Brompton Road is closer to the Royal Albert Hall than South Kensington, and would be the most convenient station for promenaders and other visitors to the RAH.
On 7th October 2008, one of the major landlords
in the area, South Kensington Estates, offered this submission to
the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea:
“Serious consideration should be given to the reopening of
the Brompton [Road] Tube station (Piccadilly Line (i.e. direct between
Heathrow and Kings X / the City). This would allow a softer (lower
capacity) redevelopment of Sth Kensington tube station and greatly
enhance transport within and between the Sth Ken/ Brompton / Knightsbridge
international zone. Since the station already exists, the costs
of this "new" station would be relatively minor.”
This submission makes good sense, although it is perhaps optimistic
to describe the likely costs of rebuilding Brompton Road station
as “relatively minor”. Nevertheless, they would not
be huge compared to the sums spent on public transport improvements
generally: a quote of some £21,500,000 for re-opening York
Road station (in the regeneration area between King’s Cross
and Caledonian Road) is a good comparable, and scarcely excessive
to bring about a major improvement to local public transport facilities.
Sadly, the Camden New Journal reports that, for the present, plans to re-open York Road have stalled. We can only hope that this decision is reversed.
The latest news is that the Ministry of Defence has sold its part of the Brompton Road site (the surface) to a purchaser who has not been clearly identified, but the platforms &c. remain in the hands of London Underground Limited. What the mystery purchaser intends to do with the street level buildings is not known. More will appear on this site as we hear what the future holds. (see reports from February 2014 in the Metro and the Daily Mail – the news was even reported by the Iranian channel Press TV)
Who knows, perhaps one day the Brompton Road will have its own station again! It would be of far more use to local people and visitors than yet another tasteless oligarch’s bunker.
York Road station, late August 2010
To put the cost of re-opening the lost Piccadilly line stations in context, the refurbishment of Victoria Underground station is estimated to cost £695,000,000.
While much in favour of spending on London's transport infrastructure, it must be said that £695 million here, £695 million there, and you're soon talking serious money . . .
click here to view a 2009 article from the London Informer
Adrian Davies, barrister, local resident, and campaigner for the re-opening of Brompton Road station
pictured outside the entrance to the disused station
Flamboyant entrepreneur Ajit Chambers has been in the news with his much publicised proposals to re-open Brompton Road station as a restaurant and adventure centre under the umbrella of The Old London Underground Company (“TOLUC”). In November 2015 the Daily Telegraph reported Mr Chambers' intention to launch a legal challenge to Transport for London's tender for the redevelopment of Down Street station.
Ajit’s vision is certainly different from ours, as we wish to see Brompton Road re-opened for passenger use, not as a tourist attraction. We also have serious doubts whether TOLUC could raise the large amount of capital needed for this project or obtain a worthwhile return on capital employed, if the capital could be raised in the first place.
Both the first and the second of Ajit’s TOLUC companies were dissolved without filing accounts, the first, no. 06990478 on 29th March 2011, the same day that the second, no. 07581992 was incorporated (no coincidence there!), only to meet the same ignominious fate itself on 13th November 2012
Nothing deterred, Mr Chambers has since incorporated a third company with the same name. The third, company no. 08824580 does not have to file any account until September 2015. It will be interesting to see whether it does. I wonder . . .
Here are some links to video footage of the fascinating tours of Brompton Road station that Ajit organised:
London Loves Business
ITV News Footage
OLUC - The Project
A Piccadilly line station much in original condition: Caledonian Road station entrance, 2010
Original roundel at Caledonian Road.
So far as I know, only two now survive, the other is at Covent Garden, on the westbound platform.
Note the interesting handwritten rubric on the 'phone: “York Road: direct line”!
©Mr Kim Rennie (reproduced by permission)