If you’re a ‘Sherlock’ fan like me you’ll no doubt have seen the most recent episode about the world-famous (if fictional) sleuth Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick Dr. Watson. The show, written by Steven Moffat (of Doctor Who fame) and Mark Gatiss (who also plays Sherlock’s even more ingenious brother Mycroft on the show), regularly delights its viewers with quirky little tidbits of trivia knowledge about London. The most recent example of this are the dummy houses at 23/24 Leinster Gardens. Dummy houses, you say? Yes, indeed.
In the 1860s, when the terraced houses in this upmarket area of Bayswater were erected, London’s Underground trains were still running on steam engines and in order to keep the subterranean parts of the lines free of smoke, there had to be a few open spaces here and there where the fumes could be released. To hide this rather unattractive sight from a picturesque street such as Leinster Gardens, the Tube people came up with the idea to have two fake house frontispieces built to provide an unbroken façade along the street.
Walking past No. 23/24 Leinster Gardens you hardly notice anything odd about these houses. It’s only upon closer inspection that you realise the windows are painted and there are no letterboxes (or even doorknobs) on the front doors. Otherwise, it all looks just the same as the neighbouring properties. Go round the back, however, and you get to see a completely different view.
So in typically British fashion, the ‘necessary evil’ in the form of the London Underground has been put “out of sight, out of mind” here and on top of that people like me get to blog about this quirky little fact of London life. 🙂 Win-win, eh?