The London Underground is one of the most iconic symbols of the city and is filled with all kinds of historical secrets and quirky irregularities.
But one (now abandoned) Tube station was critical in the country’s Second World War effort.
Down Street Station and its surrounding tunnels were used as a bomb-proof bunker for Prime Minister Winston Churchill!
READ MORE:The truth about the one-legged engineer who tested the Tube’s first escalator
A lot happened there below street level
(Image: J Wiliams/ Wikimedia Commons)
The station is located in Mayfair between Hyde Park Corner and Green Park stations on what is now the Piccadilly line.
It opened in 1907, but closed again in 1932 due to low passenger numbers – experts say the reason for this was because residents of the wealthy Mayfair could afford other methods of transport.
However, in 1939 it was re-established as the bomb-proof headquarters of the Railway Executive Committee – the organisation in charge of keeping Britain’s railways operating during the Second World War.
They transformed the tunnels and platforms into offices, bathrooms, bedrooms, and dining rooms – unbeknownst to other Londoners.
Sometimes it was still used as a Tube station during the period!
When leaving work for the day, executives would sometimes leave a red lamp at a short section of the platform that was still accessible to trains.
Tube drivers were instructed to stop when they saw the red lamp and let the worker board the driver’s cab – but were not allowed to ask any questions.
A mock-up where the station would be on a map
Other passengers were also unaware as the short platform could only be seen by the Tube driver.
During the Blitz, the bunker was most notably used by Winston Churchill and other members of the government before the Cabinet War Rooms were completed.
Churchill even had a nickname for Down Street – “The Barn”.
You can still see signs preserved from the 1940s that direct towards the Committee Room and Enquiries Room.
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Since then, the station has appeared in several films and TV shows.
Some of the 2004 British horror film, Creep, was set in the station, while the finale of the TV series Neverwhere was set in Down Street.
Bill Connolly also visited Down Street Station on his show, ‘Billy Connolly’s World Tour of England, Ireland And Scotland’.
You can actually experience Down Street Station and the narrow tunnels – the London Transport Museum operates underground tours.
However, tickets for the tours are not currently on sale but will be available from October.
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