When your westbound Piccadilly Line service slows to a crawl in the tunnel between Green Park and Hyde Park Corner, and you casually glance out of the window,
you do not expect to see four human faces lit by torches
But this is Down Street, closed in 1932 and now one of London Underground's ghost stations, where I and my
fellow underground adventurers stood on a narrow piece of the original platform dating from the turn of the century and experienced watching a Tube train passing by just
inches from my face.
All passengers usually see of the station as they speed past is a snatch of brick wall as it replaces the purple wires running along the tunnel, and possibly a brief glimpse of the platform lit by the light of their carriage. However, by lighting
our faces with torch beams as one train trundled past, we thought we might convey something of the station's ghostly atmosphere to passing commuters.
The station is reached by entering through a plain wooden door next to a newsagent on the southern edge of Mayfair and descending a fragile spiral stairway. A quarter of a mile walk through corridors takes you to the deserted platform.
All but the cramped stretch of platform on which I was perched was built on during the Second World War. The chocolate and cigarette machines
of the early 1900s are long
gone as are the wooden benches. In their place stand bare grey rooms that housed wartime electrical circuits and a two-
person telephone exchange through which Winston Churchill would have received calls.
Behind a thick steel door hides a section of the elaborate red tiling which used to decorate the station, and across it run the letters D, O, W, and half of the N.
Alan Mundy, group station manager for Green Park, knows every nook and cranny of Down Street. 'This was the site of the original lift shafts; on that side of the staircase was where they stored the chemical weapon suits; this is where Churchill held sessions with his War Cabinet, he said as he led us through the dimly lit passageways. But does
it live up to its 'ghost label? 'There are certainly lots of
rumours about ghosts on the Underground, said Mr Mundy, as he directed us to the most secluded part of the station, his face lit by torchlight.
'There's a well-known one at Covent Garden - the ghost of a murdered actor I think. And another one which appears at Ickenham station after the last train has left at night. But I've never seen one here, not yet anyway.
Mr Mundy broke the chill which had descended temporarily on our small group: 'Shall we get a train back?
He casually stretched out his right hand over the eastbound track holding a red torch and flagged one down, just as he would a taxi.
Apart from London Underground staff, fortunate tourists and the occasional company executive allowed on these rare tours, we joined the few people to have boarded a train here since the Second World War.
It was the last train from Down Street and as it pulled out it plunged the abandoned station back into darkness and solitude.Reuse content