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The Watts Church Crawl (Part the Eighth) Bayswater

As we continue on our merry way round the circle line, we reach Bayswater station, built at roughly the same time as those down by Cromwell curve, and part of that same expansion into the leafy suburbs of London. We do have a photo of the station under construction dating from 1867:

The building of the station was not without problems, and there had to be very large compensation payments paid out to those effected by the tunnelling. There are also the houses at Leinster Gardens to consider, which we shall do shortly.

Bayswater station is at the top of Kensington Gardens, which we have already seen, and within walking distance of it is our first eastern church: Santa Sophia, the church of the Holy Wisdom, which is the Greek cathedral, and the third in London to bear that name, replacing two others, which were outgrown by the Greek population which was notably inflated by the great diaspora.

 

The current church, with it’s suitably discreet exterior, belying the glory within, was built in 1878, and was made the Cathedral for Thyateira & Great Britain in 1922. There is a small museum in the basement of the church, which is well worth visiting. The architect of the church was John Oldrid Scott, and the writer of the Iconstasis was Ludwig Thiersch.

Our place of interest directly concerns Bayswater station, and is Leinster Gardens. As you walk along, you come to 23/24 Leinster Gardens, which look ordinary enough on the outside, except for one thing, which is that the front doors do not have letter boxes. This small thing leads us to a much bigger mystery. A quick look at an ariel view of this area reveals that there in fact no 23/24 Leinster Gardens, only the house fronts. This is because they were made as a front to a steam outlet for the trains which run underneath. The facade is about 5 feet thick, and the windows blackened. Rather a pity they didn’t think to put up some interesting silhouettes. They are still there to this day, and below them is now a railway siding. There was, inevitably, in the 30s a hoax played that winners of a prize draw were instructed to turn up at this address to collect their winnings, and the assembled multitude were faced with the image of some very puzzled people in evening dress. Strikes me as the sort of place that someone, the type of someone caught in a 1920s night club, claiming to be Ephraim Gadsby, would give as his address. Might be worth a go, next time you’re up before a beak.

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