23 and 24 Leinster Gardens, Bayswater - not much room inside!
23 and 24 Leinster Gardens in Bayswater, central London, may look very grand desirable houses to live in, but it's all a facade. Literally, they are clever fakes — built in the 19th century to hide the train tracks of the Metropolitan Railway that run beneath them.
The Metropolitan Railway - the world's first purpose-built commuter railway - began conveying passengers in 1863. Most of the line was above ground, but to reach central London, a subterranean section was built using a method called 'cut and cover'. As the name implies, this involved digging a deep trench to house the railway tracks, and then covering over the trench to form a tunnel.
The route of the line between Paddington and Bayswater (which opened in 1868) required the demolition of 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens, part of a long, upmarket terrace of five storey houses. It was decided to build a 5ft-thick replacement facade to match the houses either side of the break.
The ensuing gap behind the facade left a stretch of uncovered railway track open to the elements, which proved to be a handy place for the passing steam locomotives to 'vent' off their fumes, which was not a good idea in the tunnels themselves.
The facade includes 18 windows, and front doors with no letter boxes, and is now maintained by Transport for London .
Unsurprisingly, there's a long tradition of pranksters sending pizza deliveries, and calling taxi cabs to pick up passengers at the address.
A famous hoax in the 1930s saw a cheeky fraudster make a small fortune by selling 10 guinea tickets for a charity ball at Leinster Gardens. It was only when the excited guests - in full evening dress - knocked on the fake door they realised they had been duped.
Links to external websites are not maintained by Bite Sized Britain. They are provided to give users access to additional information. Bite Sized Britain is not responsible for the content of these external websites.