Take a stroll down the quiet street of Leinster Gardens in Bayswater and you’ll be hard pressed to find anything out of the ordinary. However, look slightly closer at numbers 23 and 24 and you might see that something is slightly… different.
The facades look normal enough, but if you take a glance at the windows, you’ll be able to see that there’s nothing inside. There are no post boxes either, and the ground floor is a complete blank canvas across both houses.
If you’ve managed to find this, then congrats – you’ve discovered the two fake houses of Leinster Gardens. Just five-feet-thick in diameter, they’re not actually houses at all, and are actually facades hiding the railway track of the old Metropolitan Line below.
And why, I hear you ask, are they here? Well, throw back all the way to the 1860s, when the Metropolitan Line was first being constructed, and you’ll have your answer. Much of the line was constructed using the ‘cut and cover’ method, so instead of digging a tunnel below, the tunnel was dug from above and then covered over, meaning that – yep, you guessed it – houses 23 and 24 were destroyed.
Rather than just leaving the gap empty, and to keep up appearances with the surrounding street – which is really rather grand and includes a number of listed buildings – authorities decided to rebuild these ‘houses’ which is why they exist today. They were featured in the smash hit TV show Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch, so if you’re a big old fan, you may just recognise them!
They’ve also been the subject of numerous pranks, including being used as the location for a ‘charity ball’. It’s safe to say that the guests were fairly annoyed when they knocked at the door and no one answered…