For £500,000, a perfect pad for the downwardly mobile


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New to the market: Des-res. Bijou. Situated in heart of up-and-coming de Beauvoir Town, this deceptively spacious Victorian corner town house offers much natural sunlight and room for extension, both above and below street level. It also may offer its own swimming pool. The property boasts a rustique plumbing system and al fresco feel. The previous owner undertook extensive DIY. Unfurnished. Some work needed. £500,000 ONO.

Or, in other words, the derelict former home of the "Mole Man", which has no roof and sits above a labyrinth of underground tunnels which took 40 years to construct, has been put up for sale. While perhaps attracted to the south-east-facing frontage, bidders should perhaps take note that the toilet facilities consist of a length of tube connecting the toilet bowl to the basement.

William Lyttle, who dug the network of tunnels beneath his Hackney home, was known in the area as a "local legend". When his excavation work was uncovered in 2006, council officers found four Renault 4 cars, a boat, scrap metal, old baths, fridges and dozens of TV sets. "We heard he was even building an underground swimming pool in there," said neighbour Hilda Bussey, 87.

Mr Lyttle, who died in June last year, was evicted by the council soon after the 60ft network of tunnels was discovered – estimates suggest they spread "up to 20m in every direction from his house".

"Rumours fly around about what he got up to in the house; I heard he was digging a tunnel underneath his neighbour's garden," said one Hackney resident William Church, yesterday. "They used to hear things underneath there but they couldn't work out what the sounds were."

Another neighbour, Bridget Doganis, a 40-year-old writer, said: "I heard he was digging the earth out and selling it for a great deal of money as ship's ballast. He is like a legend around here. A few of the neighbours knew him well and they always said he was a very intelligent person."

Justin Gerrie, the 32-year-old manager of a nearby pub, said he was planning to hang a homage to the "Mole Man" on his walls.

The house, which stands completely derelict in the heart of one of the more desirable areas of North London, is surrounded by metal fencing and scaffolding. The paint is peeling from the walls and a single curtain hangs in one of the few windows which still has any unbroken panes of glass. The roof was removed last year by agents working for Mr Lyttle's heirs "due to safety fears".

Speaking yesterday, Neil Fraser said that the crippling costs of keeping the scaffolding which was put up by the council to protect the structural integrity of the house, as well as at least £450,000 costs owed to local authority as a result of Mr Lyttle's life's work, made it a "forced sale". He said the family hoped to raise "in excess of £700,000" from the sale.