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Dummy House Façades

Posted on: 28th Apr 2014

Address: 23-4 Leinster Gardens, W2 (Bayswater tube).

All is not what it appears to be in this upmarket residential street in Bayswater. Look closely and you’ll spot an architectural illusion that dates back to the 1868 opening of the section of what later became the Metropolitan Line between Paddington and Bayswater. It necessitated the demolition of two houses, 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens, which formed part of a long residential terrace.

            Rather than leave a gaping hole in the upmarket terrace, it was decided to build a 5ft thick façade to match the houses on either side – partly for aesthetic reasons and partly to ensure the structural soundness of the neighbouring properties. The 18 ‘blackened’ windows on the façade are painted on and the doors have no letter boxes, which rather gives the game away.

            The space behind the façade was originally used by trains to ‘vent off’, i.e. to dispose of fumes, which was essential to help keep the railway’s tunnels clear of steam and smoke (the original trains were steam-powered). Today, the track is part of the District Line and trains can be seen running under the dummy houses.

There’s a tradition of pranksters sending pizza deliveries, religious representatives and taxis to the ‘entrance’ at number 24.

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