Down Street, also known as Down Street (Mayfair), is a disused station on the London Underground, located in Mayfair, central London. It was opened in 1907 by the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway. It was served by the Piccadilly line and was situated between Dover Street (now named Green Park) and Hyde Park Corner stations.
The station was little used and trains often passed through it without stopping. Its lack of usage coupled with its proximity to other stations resulted in its closure in 1932. During the Second World War it was used as a bunker by prime minister Winston Churchill and his War Cabinet. The station building survives today and is close to Down Street’s junction with Piccadilly.
Part of it is now converted to a retail outlet.
The station was selected for use as an underground bunker in early 1939 as part of a programme of developing deep shelters to protect government operations from bombing in the event of war. The platform faces were bricked up and the enclosed platform areas and space in the circulation passages were divided up into offices, meeting rooms and dormitories.
The engineering and structural work was carried out by the London Passenger Transport Board and the fitting-out of the rooms and installation of the power and communications equipment was done by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.
A two-person lift was installed in the original emergency stairwell and a telephone exchange, toilets and bathrooms were added. The main occupant of the shelter was the Railway Executive Committee, but it was also used by prime minister Winston Churchill and his war cabinet until the Cabinet War Rooms were ready for use.
Churchill called the establishment at Down Street “The Barn”.
Since the end of the war, the station has been used only as an emergency exit point from the Underground.
Use in media:
Down Street is the inspiration for a location in the television series and novel Neverwhere, where it provides an entrance to an underground labyrinth. A much modified and expanded version of the station appears as a part of a level in the video game Shadow Man.
Part of the 2004 British horror film Creep was set in Down Street station, although the scenes were actually shot at the disused Aldwych station and on studio sets.The British band Hefner released a song titled “Down Street” on their 2006 album Catfight; according to its sleeve notes, it is set in the early 1930s and tells the story of two lovers who meet at the station. Steve Hackett also recorded a song titled “Down Street” on his 2006 album Wild Orchids, about the station.
The station features in Billy Connolly’s World Tour Of England, Ireland and Wales, Dan Cruickshank’s National Geographic Channel series Great Railway Adventures and the 2012 TV Series The Tube.
Photo credit: TIME OUT LONDON