“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

London's Phoney Houses

Here are two examples of interesting, yet phoney, houses in London that the unobservant passer-by may miss as they go about their daily business.

The Upside Down House

The “Upside Down” house can be found on Blackfriars Road near the junction with Stamford Street. The building originally dates from 1780 and the current upside-down façade was installed as an art project, by the artist who had previously created Margate’s “sliding house”. As you can see in the below pictures, the roof of the building nestles on the pavement, whilst the front door to the building floats high-up in the air. Even the shop’s sign, the for-sale sign and the guttering are upside down. A news-paper article from December 2013 suggests that this interesting art installation may soon be demolished so that the building can be repurposed into residential dwellings. So if you want to see this phoney house for yourself, you had best get your skates on.

Blackfriars Road's "Upside-Down" house.

Leinster Gardens

The second phoney house can be found at 23 - 24 Leinster Gardens in Paddington, where a fake façade has been created to hide what lurks behind. During the construction of the world’s first underground railway (the Metropolitan Railway), the houses at 23 - 24 Leinster Gardens had to be demolished to accommodate the Paddington to Bayswater section of the line (opened in 1868). Once the line had been installed it was decided to replace the houses with a façade to enable the prestigious terrace of upmarket 5-story houses to retain its grand image. Walking along Leinster Gardens the casual observer may not notice that the roof line above 23 - 24 is slightly different to the rest of the terrace, or that the doors to the property have no handles and that the windows are all painted a uniform grey.

The façade is only a few feet thick and the deceit is visible if you walk around onto Porchester Terrace and view the building from behind. Here you can see the girders supporting the façade and the section of underground railway that the façade hides. Here the railway tunnel is open to the elements, and back in the 1860’s the steam trains using the line would have used this open section of track to vent off their built-up steam. The fake frontage of 23 - 24 Leinster Gardens would have mostly hidden this venting from the well-to-do residents of the street.

23 - 24 Leinster Gardens. 

Notice the fake windows in comparison to the property on the right. 

Looking along the terrace.

A front door with no handles!

The painted on windows.

The rear view of the facade and the rail line that it hides.

Pictures: London (March 2015).

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