The Curious Case of Leinster Gardens


WHAT would we have done without Victorian engineering?

Imagine a major civil engineering project ploughing through the heart of a crowded community or metropolis and then agreeing to rebuild a house to patch up the mess.

Fans of BBC’s Sherlock might have noticed a plot strand which featured the curious case of Leinster gardens.

Residents in plush Bayswater back in the 19th C weren’t overly keen on losing two blocks of five storey stuccoed mansion style terraces to the new London Metropolitan railway.

So the railway built two façade houses – and not cheap ones at that – at number 23 and 24.

Only five feet thick and with false windows, and minus letter boxes and house numbers and other domestic usuals, the millionaire look was maintained.

The first London underground trains were steam, so needed ventilation.

'Cut and cover' lines were devised with tunnels and open air sections so the trains could 'vent off'.

The early trains would vent their steam and smoke at uncovered gaps along the lines, and this was best done outside of the newly cut ‘underground’ sections.

The train line which cuts beneath plush Leinster Gardens is that of the Metropolitan, District, and Circle Lines between Paddington and Bayswater.

When this section of the train line was devised it was necessary to knock down 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens  - but as this was in a rather up market area of London, it was decide to rebuild a fake facade to keep the continuity of the street and its five storey townhouses.

So convincing are the stucco style fronts  - which have the familiar whitewashed pillar and promenade ‘Bayswater’ look  - that they have duped many a visitor, and even the occasional resident at the next door Henry VIII hotel.

The facsimile dwellings were built in 1868.

In the 1930s, reportedly a fraudster sold tickets for a charity ball at 23/24 Leinster Gardens and made a fortune. In a plot -  almost straight out of a Conan Doyle novel - , the guests arrived in their evening finery, only to discover the phantom house and no-one at home.

What would Moriarty say?

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The following snapshot is from Google Earth and shows the blank windows and facades next to the regular frontage in Bayswater.