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For sale: London subway station with history

August 8, 2013

LONDON (AP) — The property’s location can’t be bettered, but the view from some of the rooms leaves a bit to be desired.

Buyers seeking a base in one of London’s wealthiest neighborhoods have the chance to purchase an unusual piece of property: a disused London subway station that housed the city’s anti-aircraft defenses during World War II.

Brompton Road station is being sold by the Ministry of Defense, which bought the building after it was closed to passengers in the 1930s.

The ministry, which is selling several properties and laying off thousands of soldiers in a cost-cutting drive, says the building has been declared “surplus to requirements” and will be put on sale next month.

It is expected to fetch about 20 million pounds ($30 million). That buys 28,000 square feet (2,600 square meters) of aboveground and underground space.

The site includes a station building covered in the distinctive oxblood-colored tiles of London Underground’s Piccadilly Line. The ministry said the interior includes “a drill hall, garages, offices and mess,” as well as elevator shafts and underground passages — though not the subway tunnels, which remain in use and belong to London’s transit operator.

The station is near to the historic Brompton Oratory church and the ritzy Harrods department store. It opened in 1906 but turned out to be too close to other stations to attract many passengers, and was closed in 1934.

In 1936 it was bought by the government and became an army anti-aircraft headquarters, protecting London from German bombers during the Blitz.

The building is still used by the military, housing air and naval units from the University of London and an Air Training Corps squadron.

Simon Hodson of real estate agents Jones Lang LaSalle said Wednesday that the “prime central London site provides an excellent redevelopment opportunity.”

A firm called the Old London Underground Company has expressed an interest in buying the station and turning it into a restaurant and entertainment venue.

Brompton Road is one of several abandoned subway stations in London. Many are derelict, although Aldwych station has been preserved as a location for filming period dramas, and the former Hyde Park Corner station building was a restaurant and jazz club until it closed in 2010.


Jill Lawless can be reached at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless

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