The Smith's Charity Estate: The effect of the Underground

Page 117

Survey of London: Volume 41, Brompton. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1983.

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The Effect of the Underground Railways

Virtually the only part of the estate to undergo major changes in the period between 1850 and Freake's death in 1884 where he was not involved was in Pelham Street and the adjoining frontage of what was then Fulham Road but is now the western end of Brompton Road. Here the authorisation of the construction of the Metropolitan and Metropolitan District Railways by Acts of Parliament in 1864 led to the sale of some plots of land to the railway companies (see fig. 23) and the subsequent demolition of several houses.

Initially the building of the railways and their joint station at South Kensington affected the neighbouring Alexander estate more than the Smith's Charity estate (see page 79) and in Pelham Street only a few houses at the western end had to be pulled down to make way for the station (Plate 48a). In 1871, however, the remaining houses on the north side of the street to the west of the short stretch of roadway leading to Thurloe Square were demolished so that the station could be enlarged to accommodate separate District platforms. This was in part the result of a quarrel between the two companies which also led to the District acquiring the surviving terrace at Nos. 51–61 (odd) Pelham Street in order to construct its branch line to the station but, in the event, these houses did not have to be demolished. (fn. 236)

On the frontage to Fulham Road the last house in Onslow Terrace, with James Bonnin's former cottage and workshops behind, had to be demolished in c. 1866 for the construction of the District railway. They were eventually replaced in 1879–80 by a riding school which was later converted into a garage and two houses and shops now numbered 266 and 268 Brompton Road, the upper storeys of which are faced with red brick and cement dressings in a coarse Italianate style. They were built by Henry R. Wagner of Britannia Street, King's Cross, to the designs of John Mechelen Rogers, architect. (fn. 237)

The construction of the deep-level Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (now the Piccadilly Line), which was begun in 1902, produced yet another extension to South Kensington Station on the frontage to Pelham Street. Opened in January 1907, this part of the station was designed by Leslie W . Green and has retained the original façade of ox-blood-red glazed faience (Plate 48b) which he used at several tube stations between 1903 and 1907. (fn. 238) A range of two-storey shops, called Station Buildings, was erected shortly afterwards on the frontage to Pelham Street to the east of the station, but was demolished in 1973. (fn. 239) At the present No. 49 Pelham Street, on the east corner of the entrance to Thurloe Square, an electricity sub-station was built in 1904 to serve the needs of the railway. Green designed an elaborate Baroque building for the site with four storeys of flats above the sub-station, but in the event only the ground storey was completed. Two more floors, in red brick and stone with bow windows to Pelham Street, were added in the early 1920's to the designs of Stanley A. Heaps, architect to the Underground Electric Railways Company, to provide a dining club for the company. (fn. 240)


  • 236. M.D.R. 1870/5/172; 1871/15/621: Charles E. Lee, The Metropolitan District Railway, 1956, p. 5: G.L.R.O., MDR 1 1, Aug. 1867; MDR 1/2, March 1871.
  • 237. M.D.R. 1870/13/920: M.B.W., case 26010: D.S.R. 1879 80–2.
  • 238. Alan A. Jackson and Desmond F. Croome, Rails Through the Clay, 1962, pp. 41–2, 70–3, 82, 94, 108, 114: Charles E. Lee, The Piccadilly Line, 1973, pp. 9–16.
  • 239. Stroud, The South Kensington Estate of Henry Smith's Chanty, p. 62.
  • 240. B.A. 24385: P.O.D.