London Underground: the abandoned tube station built next to a spooky Gothic mansion

Some of London’s lost and abandoned tube stations are hidden from view.

You pass them at full speed on the metro and if you are lucky you can spot them through the windows as you pass at full speed.

Others on the other hand are more in the sticks in unusual and sometimes fascinating places.

READ MORE: Abandoned London Underground station that turned into the Northern Line

This is the case of an old, little-known station in West London which was later replaced by a much more famous station next door.

In 1903 a small station was opened on Twyford Abbey Road by the Ealing & South Harrow Railway company.

The old metro station had a short lifespan to access the Royal Agricultural Society exhibition grounds

It was pretty basic – just two wooden platforms, a bridge, and a few small buildings.

But Park Royal and Twyford Abbey station was built right next to a strange Gothic-style mansion – Twyford Abbey – which gave the whole area its name.

Built in the Middle Ages, the house was once owned by the Lords of West Twyford Manor who owned the surrounding land.

By 1593 the mansion was the only dwelling in West Twyford and St Mary’s Church had become a private chapel.

It was partially demolished around 1715 and the chapel was also rebuilt around this time.

The house was then sold to Thomas Willan, owner of a stage coach in 1806.

Twyford Abbey
A staircase inside the abandoned Twyford Abbey

Willam renamed the mansion ‘Twyford Abbey’ to give it a romantic pseudo-monastic association and, as the only building in the area, the name was quickly applied to the entire area around West Twyford.

It was around this time that the house was transformed into a spooky Gothic-style mansion – a style that was then all the rage among the aristocrats.

In 1902 – around the time the station opened, the abbey became a retirement home when it was purchased by the Alexian brothers, a Roman Catholic order, who enlarged and changed the house several times.

But the nearby Park Royal & Twyford Abbey station was actually built to take passengers to and from the 102-acre Royal Agricultural Showground which was just east of the station. In fact, that’s why it was called Park Royal.

The problem was that the station was opened to coincide with the Royal Agricultural Show in 1903, but few people showed up at the event and the station’s impact was therefore limited.

It continued to be used against all odds, but as the population of this London suburb increased in the 1930s, it began to prove insufficient for the task.

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In 1931, the station was moved and new platforms were laid just east of the existing site to service the growing suburb of Western Avenue.

Temporary buildings were constructed for a new Park Royal station and the old one was closed.

The new permanent Park Royal station building designed by Felix Lander was completed in 1936.

And it was a beauty with a distinctive 67 foot tower with illuminated cockades on each side and a circular reservation room.

It is one of the finest pieces of architecture in the London Underground and became a listed building in 1987.

Inevitably, things have changed. The old station was demolished and nearby Twyford Abbey fell into disrepair. The spooky building still overlooks North Circular Road, but it fell into disuse as a retirement home in 1988.

It is listed on English Heritage’s Buildings at Risk as Priority A – meaning that there is “an immediate risk of further damage or loss of tissue, no solution has been agreed”.

Permission was granted for the mansion to be turned into a secondary school with a capacity of 1,150 places in 2017, but the project has now failed according to the Ealing Council, so the future of the view is uncertain.

As for the showground, it had a much shorter lifespan. As the first exhibition was unsuccessful, the Royal Agricultural Society quickly sold the land in 1907.

However, the show must of course continue, and he completed a series of successful tours across the UK from 1906 to 1962.

From 1963 to 2003 he then moved to a permanent establishment based in Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire.

In 2007, however, attendance was low and the show had to close early due to bad weather. The last event in history took place in 2009.

The events triggered – excuse the pun – at Park Royal in 1903 had sparked a centuries-old tradition, but nothing remains of the old little station to remind us of it.

The full story of Park Royal & Twyford Abbey station can be read in JE Connor’s fascinating book, ‘London’s Disused Underground Stations’.

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