Developers fight over Brompton Road Tube station famous for link to Adolf Hitler's Nazi deputy Rudolf Hess

Bidding war develops between Qatari royal family and mysterious Ukrainian billionaire

A disused London Underground station that housed the command bunker for London’s anti-aircraft defences during the Second World War is at the centre of a multimillion-pound bidding war between the Qatari royal family and a mysterious Ukrainian billionaire.

Brompton Road station, once situated on the Piccadilly line between South Kensington and Knightsbridge, is on the market for around £100m and is attracting interest from all the usual suspects at the top end of the capital’s lucrative property market.

The 28,000sq ft building near Harrods, which was closed to Tube passengers in 1934 due to a lack of demand, is understood be under consideration by the Qatari royal family, who also own the Shard, the former US embassy building in Mayfair and the athletes’ village from the 2012 Olympics.

Another bidder keen on the property, which is being sold by the Ministry of Defence as part of the Government’s cost-cutting drive, is said to be an anonymous Ukrainian billionaire who is understood to want to transform the building into a luxury home.

Competing against the two private bidders is a London-based entrepreneur who claims he wants to keep the building as a publicly owned heritage asset in memory of its role during the Second World War.

Ajit Chambers of the Old London Underground Company, which aims to develop disused Tube stations, said: “As the battle for Brompton Road begins, the public become a large influence as essentially they own this site as taxpayers. ”

Brompton Road opened in 1906 and the building still bears the distinctive red-glazed tiles of older Tube stations. The War Office bought the above-ground building for £22,000 in 1938 and it became headquarters of the Army’s 1st Anti-Aircraft Division. Floors were built into the lift shafts to create operations rooms, complete with a telephone exchange, pneumatic tubes to carry messages and a giant table map of southern England.

Winston Churchill visited the command centre and it is rumoured that Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, was questioned at the station after he crash-landed in Scotland in 1941 during a secret attempt to negotiate peace.

Mr Chambers, a former banker, wants to convert the rooftop into a garden, bar and restaurant area, while allowing tourists to travel underground to visit the drop-shafts.

He said: “A project that I started four years ago now has two other bidders who are rivalling me. I have support across Parliament and from inside Downing Street to keep this publicly owned heritage asset from being sold as a luxury home.”

It is understood James Arbuthnot, the chairman of the Defence Select Committee, is concerned about the potential sale of the station to private foreign ownership. He has written to the Defence Secretary, Phillip Hammond, to highlight the status of Brompton Road as a “heritage asset”.

Jones Lang LaSalle, the company handling the sale for the MoD, put the property on the market yesterday. A spokesman said: “At the very latest the sale needs to be completed by the end of March.”

End of the line abandoned stations

Aldwych, initially called Strand, is one of London’s most famous “ghost stations”. It opened in 1907 but its financial viability was perennially in doubt and, after running a peak hours service only for many years, the station closed for good in 1994.

Down Street, near Hyde Park, which closed in 1932, was used as an air raid shelter by Winston Churchill. A bath installed in 1939 has been dubbed “Churchill’s bath”.

The British Museum once had its own Tube station on the Central Line. It opened in 1900 but has not been used by the general public since 1933. Holborn station is a few hundred yards away.

Writer Neil Gaiman was inspired to write his novel Neverwhere by London’s abandoned tube stations. He created a secret world called “London Below” in which Angel, Hammersmith and Blackfriars were brought to life. He plans a sequel, The Seven Sisters, (Victoria Line).

Ian Johnston

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform