Top-se­cret bunkers, aban­doned Tube sta­tions and Lon­don’s first sky­scraper: Ko­hi­noor Sa­hota dis­cov­ers hid­den lo­ca­tions across the cap­i­tal

Where London - - Contents -

Take a tour of se­cret places, from dis­used Un­der­ground sta­tions to sub­ter­ranean bunkers.

Keep­ing a se­cret in Lon­don is dif­fi­cult. So much can eas­ily be dis­cov­ered, from where the Queen buys her hand­bags to the curry house loved by the for­mer Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron. When some­thing tries to re­main hush-hush, it of­ten gains more at­ten­tion, such as speakeasystyle bars be­hind unas­sum­ing doors and the im­mer­sive Se­cret Cin­ema, which of­ten gives you clues to work out what films are be­ing screened.

The Lon­don Trans­port Mu­seum – filled with old and new ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing the world’s first Un­der­ground steam train – has cre­ated tours across lo­ca­tions that are not nor­mally open to the pub­lic. There are four tours: Lon­don’s first sky­scraper at 55 Broad­way, once Lon­don Un­der­ground’s head­quar­ters; Eus­ton Sta­tion’s tun­nels that are no longer used; Clapham South’s sub­ter­ranean shel­ter; and Churchill’s se­cret Tube sta­tion at Down Street in May­fair (pic­tured). These tours re­quire a lot of walk­ing, so wear your most sturdy shoes – if you have heels or open­toe shoes on, you may be re­fused en­try.

Dur­ing World War II, Clapham South’s sub­ter­ranean shel­ter and Down Street were both used as a place of refuge. Clapham South’s shel­ter, which is 180 steps be­low the ground, pro­tected Lon­don­ers dur­ing the Blitz and housed Caribbean mi­grants be­fore they found jobs and ac­com­mo­da­tion. Down Street, mean­while – a short-lived sta­tion that was open be­tween 1907 and 1932 – was a bomb-proof bunker for Sir Win­ston Churchill.

For the Down Street tour, the Trans­port Mu­seum has teamed up with the re­cently re­fur­bished Athenaeum Ho­tel and Res­i­dences to cre­ate an en­hanced ex­pe­ri­ence for visi­tors. Jeremy Hop­kins, gen­eral man­ager of the ho­tel, says: ‘Our apart­ments were built in 1890 so Down Street would have been the clos­est Tube sta­tion. We look for­ward to wel­com­ing guests so they can ex­pe­ri­ence Lon­don’s his­tory as well as our own.’ The bunkers may be gloomy, but you can add some glam­our to the pro­ceed­ings with an af­ter­noon tea. In Galvin at the Athenaeum, the new restau­rant cre­ated by Miche­lin-starred broth­ers Chris and Jeff Galvin, the tea is themed around Lon­don’s hid­den lo­ca­tions and is served in a room over­look­ing Green Park. In 2012, the Tea Guild gave it the ‘Best Af­ter­noon Tea in Lon­don’ award, so you know that this will cer­tainly be a high tea. And, if you are won­der­ing where those hand­bags come from and what curry house it is – it’s Launer and Khas Tan­doori in Ken­sal Rise re­spec­tively. Just don’t tell any­one… Check for dates. T: 020-7565 7298. www.lt­mu­seum.co.uk „


Visit se­cret spa­ces, from the hospi­tal that per­formed the world’ s first suc­cess­ful Cae­sarean to the city’ s only Ro­man baths


Dur­ing a royal corona­tion, wedding or fu­neral, you will of­ten see a pro­ces­sion pass un­der Admiralty Arch. The Grade I-listed build­ing, com­pleted in 1912, is at the opposite end of Buck­ing­ham Palace. Look closely at the in­side of the north­ern­most arch and you will see a cu­ri­ous thing: a nose pok­ing out of the wall. Ru­mour had it that it was put there in hon­our of the Duke of Welling­ton, who was known to have a large nose. In fact, it was cre­ated by artist Rick Buck­ley to com­plain about the coun­try be­com­ing a nosy, CCTV-re­liant so­ci­ety. The Mall, SW1A 2WH


There is only one me­mo­rial to a Nazi in the coun­try: Giro the dog’s grave. Ger­man am­bas­sador Leopold von Hoesch lived in Carl­ton House, just off The Mall. In 1934, his dog, an Al­sa­tian, was ac­ci­den­tally elec­tro­cuted. Hoesch buried his beloved pet in the back gar­den, and the grave can be peered at by visi­tors. The epi­taph reads: ‘A faith­ful com­pan­ion.’ Carl­ton House Ter­race, St James’s, SW1Y 5AH


Once you have found the discreet door, you descend down some dark stairs into what ap­pears to be a 1920s of­fice be­fore be­ing in­ter­ro­gated by a de­tec­tive. He fi­nally pulls a lever, a book­case ro­tates and a bar is re­vealed. Wel­come to Evans & Peel De­tec­tive Agency, part of the speakeasy trend that has gripped the cap­i­tal. In this haunt, savvy visi­tors can dis­cover the il­licit thrill of Pro­hi­bi­tion bars – with­out the risk of be­ing raided by po­lice. 310c Earl’s Court Rd, SW5 9BA


Cen­tral Lon­don is full of still, small oases of calm, if you know where to look. Visit the Ky­oto Gar­den in Hol­land Park, which boasts a wa­ter­fall, koi carp, a stone bridge and roam­ing pea­cocks. The gar­den was do­nated by the Cham­ber of Com­merce of Ky­oto in 1991, and is a much-loved gem. 112-114 Hol­land Park Av­enue,

W11 4UA


Climb a wind­ing stair­case into the Old Op­er­at­ing The­atre, which was built in 1822 as part of St Thomas’ Hospi­tal as a surgery for women. The the­atre was a grue­some place to visit: stu­dents would watch pro­ce­dures tak­ing place where no anaes­the­sia or an­ti­sep­tic were used. They in­cluded am­pu­ta­tions that would be over in a minute, and one of the world’s first Cae­sarean sec­tions in which the mother and child sur­vived. The lat­ter was per­formed by Dr James Barry, a woman who hid her gen­der in or­der to work. When you visit, you’ll find in­stru­ments used to carry out oper­a­tions, such as an am­pu­ta­tion set with a saw. It is not for the faint-hearted! 9a St Thomas St, SE1 9RY


The Savoy, which opened in 1889, is one of Lon­don’s most lux­u­ri­ous ho­tels – and you don’t even have to stay here for a glimpse of its fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory. Loved by ac­tors, in­side you will see the guest cards of Frank Si­na­tra, Ava Gard­ner and Char­lie Chap­lin. Mar­lene Di­et­rich’s guest card re­veals her re­quest for 12 pink roses and a bot­tle of Dom Pérignon. There is also Noël Cow­ard’s lighter and cig­a­rette, and the first bot­tle of Cham­pagne the ho­tel poured when it opened. Strand, WC2R 0EU


Ex­tinct bird feath­ers, a gi­ant anteater’s skele­ton and dodo bones – this lit­tle shop of hor­rors is one of the most un­usual mu­se­ums you’ll find in Lon­don. This tiny space in Hack­ney holds ex­hi­bi­tions and talks, from a pet­ting zoo evening where you can get close to pythons, frogs and taran­tu­las, to taxi­dermy classes. It was founded by artist Vik­tor Wynd, who also runs fairy­tale-like balls which in­volve dress­ing up in masks and danc­ing the Charleston. 11 Mare St, E8 4RP


Lon­don’s only Ro­man baths, which ap­pear to be a plunge pool, are close to Em­bank­ment Sta­tion. The baths were first writ­ten about in 1784 by John Pinker­ton as a ‘fine an­tique bath’, and in Charles Dick­ens’ DavidCop­per­field, the pro­tag­o­nist uses the old Ro­man Bath ‘at the bot­tom of one of the streets out of the Strand’. The baths are free to visit on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noons, but you must book ahead. 5 Strand Lane, WC2R

Old Op­er­at­ing The­atre Mu­seum; Vik­tor Wynd Mu­seum of Cu­riosi­ties; Ky­oto Gar­den

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