Plans for Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s hidden underground shelter from the Blitz are some of the most intriguing in our historic archive.
There are 270 working stations on Transport for London‘s (TfL’s) network but at least 40 that still exist and are closed to passengers, according to TfL.
Down Street – in Mayfair and sitting between Hyde Park Corner and Green Park tube stations – is one of them.
Churchill secretly used the short-lived Down Street station during WWII for refuge as bombs fell on London.
Our archive, which holds a huge volume of title deeds, legal documents and original railway drawings, owns the Down Street plans today because mainline railway operator the London Midland and Scottish Railway was responsible for fitting out the converted station and installing power and communication equipment.
It did this with the London Passenger Transport Board, which undertook the engineering and structural work.
London Transport Museum, which runs tours of Down Street, says: “Down Street had a short life as a working station from 1907 to 1932 but became critical to winning the Second World War when covertly transformed into the Railway Executive Committee’s bomb-proof headquarters.”
TfL says on its website: “During World War Two, many stations were used as public shelters and underground offices for London Underground and government staff. Down Street station was transformed into an underground facility with phone lines, and even hosted a meeting of the War Cabinet. Another, Brompton Road, was sold to the War Office in 1938 and is still used by the Ministry of Defence today.”
Explore this top-secret government shelter …
… Look for details such as the blast-proof door and reinforced concrete to withstand bomb damage, and the many bedrooms …
Find our more about fascinating hidden transport history in Secrets of the London Underground – the new Yesterday series presented by Tim Dunn of The Architecture the Railways Built and historian Siddy Holloway.