A row of townhouses along a wealthy London street hides an interesting secret, as some of them have been revealed to be fake and are simply elaborate facades.
Jack Chesher, a tour guide, shared a clip on his TikTok @livinglondonhistory account earlier this month as he told people about the “sneaky” properties in the capital.
In the clip, Chesher says, “This is Leinster Gardens: a seemingly ordinary terrace of West London houses. But why don’t these two doors have mailboxes and why are the windows blocked?
He continues: “The answer lies at the rear! From the rear you will see that 23-24 Leinster Gardens are really just facades with no rooms at the rear. From the front they give the impression of an uninterrupted terrace but were in fact built to cover the view of a section of metro line.
“The Metropolitan line was built here, along with the houses, in the 1860s, when trains were still running on steam engines, so open sections were needed to drain the accumulated condensation.”
Chesher, who has a website, Livinglondonhistory.com, detailing his tours, said Newsweek“I am always on the lookout for oddities and oddities, of which London has so much. London has many brilliant museums but the streets themselves are, I believe, the greatest and most fascinating museum of all.
“The false fronts of Leinster Gardens particularly interested me because it’s a great example of something that isn’t what it first seems, again something that London is great at, be it bollards that are actually cannons or fences that are actually recycled stretchers from World War II.! Leinster Gardens at first glance appears to be an ordinary, albeit rather fanciful, West London terrace.”
He added that you have to “look over the high brick wall” to see the back of the buildings and the tracks they obscure, with the tube similar to the New York City subway.
Chesher, who combined her degree in history with her passion for wandering around cities during lockdown, currently offers three tours; the Hidden Strand, the Pioneers of Lambeth and the Lanes of Westminster.
His TikTok page is filled with oddities lurking in plain sight in the capital, but the Leinster Gardens video is his most popular with nearly 3 million views.
People expressed their shock at the fake homes, as Doris-cockapoo joked: “That’s about £20m worth of prime real estate there.”
Bigfatqueen joked, “Sirius Black lived there, that’s why.”
Jonathan Davila thought, “Imagine living in the ground floor apartments of other houses. The noise with each passing train.
Anilpatel thought: “A good design element but needs a facade on the back.
Scott admitted, “I thought it was going to be like a 50 million house reveal.”
Ash Newlove – Nutrition Coach commented, “People living there feel like they’re taking a train every day. How magical!”
Mr_NotPerfect admitted, “After 4 years in London. Now I know.”
As Yumraj on Bicycle asked, “Now, because we don’t use steam engines, why can’t we use the space and build something on top of it?”
The facades fall under the remit of Transport for London (TfL), and a spokesperson said Newsweek: “The houses at 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens were built by the Metropolitan Railway in the 1860s to conceal the open sections of tracks that lie behind this street of terraced houses.
“This section of the subway was built with a ‘cut and cover’ system, where workers would dig a trench, lay tracks, then cover the hole, leaving an underground space for trains to pass through.
“However, since the original trains were steam trains, there had to be several sections of track open for ventilation purposes, so that steam would not just collect in the tunnels and stations. False-fronted houses in Leinster Garden hide one such open-air region.”