Its London’s underground’s forgotten upgrade! Everyone gets their rocks off on Battersea Power Station new tube station, Barking Riverside, the Northern Line’s Bank station upgrade, the Elizabeth Line, even the new station entrances at Hackney Central and the rest of it. But this one? It seems its barely been mentioned and probably something many would have not wanted to mention in a million years! Is it because many deem it an accessibility upgrade? I’m not sure about that because quite a few on the tube grapevine do mention updates to accessible projects on the London Underground however its a total mystery why no-one’s kept any tabs on yet another exciting tube opening scheduled for 2022!
The scope of the project at Knightsbridge is such that its essentially an entire former tube station brought back into use as a means of expanding the present site on a huge scale. The most exciting aspect is there’s a brand new tube station plus old but repurposed 1906 built subways too. Clearly long disused parts of Knightsbridge station are being brought back into use including original Leslie Green features! Where else on the tube system these days does one find an early 1900s tube station restored to its original purpose?
In the early days when the tube grapevine did alt least mention it (this being the 2017-ish era) many were enthused the old Knightsbridge station was being brought back into use but there’s been little said about it since. In the context of the other projects (Crossrail, Barking Riverside, Battersea Power Station, Bank upgrade) this is certainly a very strange omission.
The new station gets its first public showing on the night of 7th July 2022 with a new canopy! Source: Twitter.
I’ve been planning to write about the upgrades at Knightsbridge for quite some time – but COVID came about and things went quite topsy turvy. I’ve tried to keep tabs on the station’s progress even though it seemed exceedingly slow. Actually seeing any progress in the early days of this project was very difficult and at times that was afforded only by way of a quick view of the works from the top of a London bus passing down Brompton Road. It means getting pictures of the site’s progress has been very difficult.
COVID of course came about so there was then the difficulty of even getting down to Knightsbridge to see what progress was being made. But once things more or less got underway again after the pandemic the hoardings started coming down revealing the new work in all its glory – especially the former Great Norther Piccadilly and Brompton Railway station buildings in Bailey Street. Yet progress on the remainder of the site still seemed slow until the new Brompton Road entrance made a first full appearance on 8th July 2022 – which prompted me to begin compiling this special Knightsbridge station feature.
The new entrance on the 8th July 2022 – less than 24 hours old at the time I took this photograph!
No sooner than the new entrance canopy had been installed I was there to take pictures of the new entrance in its full glory (apart from the steel hoarding which remained at the time.) Personally I find the installation of the new canopy and its roundel flagpole a considerable step towards seeing the new tube station (and its new accessible lifts) opened in a very popular part of London. Its of course that popularity which has presented problems at Knightsbridge station since it was first opened in 1906.
Over the past year the deadline for removing the construction site’s hoardings has been extended several times. By the time the new canopy had been installed the notices had been updated to specify that any remaining hoarding should be removed by 20th July 2022. This was a clear indication the next stage of the station’s development would be underway soon.
As can be expected the hoardings were duly removed and by the 20th July the station had acquired yet another look in the form of the now classic TfL blue style announcing this was a new station entrance which would be opening in the autumn of 2022.
The new station seen on 20th July 2022 – the day the old hoarding had to be removed. The entrance links to the existing eastern ticket hall and escalators via a new subway.
The project is delayed considerably because of COVID but its not just that. Originally it was to open in 2020 (according to this TfL page), then it was 2021 according to this page seen on the Internet Archive. By the time 2021 came around Hidden London Hangouts had made their series of three videos covering the station. In the second instalment of that (July 2021) the team were told the new station would be fully operational this time next year (eg July 2022.) At the time of writing this post the new station isn’t still open but as we know now its to be the autumn of 2022.
There’s one caveat. It isn’t finished however – and it wont be until much later – at least for the accessible part of the project which constitutes of reused deep level subways and new passenger lifts. It now seems this part of the new station will be completed ‘by 2023’ as TfL cite on this page.
Rough map devised by London Transit Blog showing the various new station sites plus the areas of the 1906 station which have been brought back into use.
Besides COVID any delays to the construction of the new station can also be attributed to the difficult nature of the work. The new development required very deep piling – and with both current and disused tube tunnels directly beneath the new construction site, a TfL engineer had to be present at all times the work was underway. The map I did (shown above) highlights the very tightly constrained site that contractors have had to work within.
Some of the work involved digging piles as close as 1 centimetre from TfL/London Underground infrastructure. The escalators that lead down from the eastern ticket hall were the most critical area. The fact these escalators travel from the middle of the road and straight beneath the new construction indicates they are offset. The deep foundations forming the new Knightsbridge Estate had to be piled exceedingly close to the escalators.
Barring the 2023 full opening date, as least the new entrance in Brompton Road will be open by the autumn of 2022 replacing the former entrance on the corner of Knightsbridge and Sloane Street. One might wonder where this new entrance links into the scheme of things. What it does is there’s a flight of steps down to a lower level and then a fairly substantial corridor below ground that links into the old access point from Brompton Road/Sloane Street. Thus passengers using this new link will be gaining access to the eastern ticket hall and escalators by way of a short but repurposed section of the 1934 built station.
The new subway where it reaches the ticket hall. Contractors have to demolish the wall partitioning this from the ticket hall area before the subway becomes visible.
As my picture depicts this part of the station’s new subways will be plain white tiled as per the other existing foot subways. Conversely the repurposed parts of the old station will be attractively tiled in the original 1906 Leslie Green/Great Northern Piccadilly and Brompton Railway colour scheme which consisted of two tone green and cream tiles. A good bit of the original Leslie Green 1906 tiles will be reused however in the Hooper’s Court section of the station brand new replica tiles will be utilised.
The original Knightsbridge tube station entrance on Brompton Road. The new 2022 entrance is just a short distance to the left! Source: Twitter.
The former station site as seen in 2009 – framed by a fancy Jigsaw shop front! The upper floor windows are evidently the same as in the early days of the station and these still exist in the new development. To the right through the passageway can be seen the other part of the station premises in Hoopers Court. View from Google Streets.
The new accessible station entrance in Hooper’s Court just off Brompton Road. Its the boarded up incomplete archway immediately on the left. The remainder of the Leslie Green 1906 frontage can be seen stretching down Hooper’s Court. The first window bay of the 1906 buildings will however form part of the new surface station’s accessible lifts hallway.
Continued with a look at the new station’s development plus the old 1906 station areas which have been repurposed.