Thorney Tales

 What the Opera House would have looked like
 
When excavations were taking place during the 1870s to construct a new edifice on the site of what today is the Norman Shaw complex near Westminster station, the builders came across the bed of a creek that surrounded Thorney Island. The edifice was no ordinary building. It was planned by James Mapleson, an impressario, to be the grandest opera house in Europe. It was not only planned but it was largely completed until Mapleson ran out of money. The building then fell into disuse and was eventually demolished. 
 

But not completely. The foundations were kept - and are still there today. When Scotland Yard took over in 1890 some of the rooms originally built for opera stars were converted into cells for prisoners. One of the subterranean passages built as part of the opera house was connected to a platform on the District Line at Westminster Station. Another passage was reported to go to Parliament to give peers and MPs easy access to the opera. The building was put to good use by the metropolitan police. But is is sad to think that Thorney Island missed out on an opera house of its own.