Platform 12: deep Words Phil Dudman
The DJ as train driver. Toot toot!
A new plan aims to turn London’s air raid shelters, tube stations and tunnels into clubs
Please mind the gap...
Now that’s what we call underground
Ajit Chambers, the man with the plan
A cross-section of part of the proposed venue
■ When it comes to underground dance music, London has always led the world. But just a few months from now the city could take this to a new and very literal frontier. One passionate entrepreneur, Ajit Chambers, and The Old London Underground Company he founded in 2009, wants to develop a network of historic deep level shelters and long-forgotten ‘ghost stations’ that lie beneath the city streets – with one site earmarked for a subterranean nightclub the likes of which has never been seen before. Citing interest from Mayor Boris Johnson, Peter Hendy the Transport Commissioner, plus 62 MPs and ten Lords, Chambers and his team, which includes industry DJs Johni Parker and Izzy Lawrence, hope to transform these unique sites – formerly used as air raid shelters, tube stations, war cabinet rooms and one location where British intelligence interrogated the notorious Rudolf Hess during WW2. The plan will inject £200 million of foreign investment into the local economy, according to Chambers, and ignite a new cultural and musical underground. If it goes ahead it will be one of the biggest music and property development stories of the decade, and Chambers has already commissioned the Wasylki brothers (one of whom, Damien, has worked with Prince, Michael Jackson and Usher) to compile a documentary of the project’s progress. Most exciting, though, is the news that one particular site in Stockwell/Clapham North in South London – one of eight deep level shelters built during 1941-1942 under existing London Underground stations – could feature over eight tube-like tunnels of bars
and dancefloors, solid acoustics only a subterranean Bond villain’s hideout could match, DJs playing from the cab of a fake, moving tube train and a guaranteed 24-hour license. And the smoking areas? “We’re planning glass lifts and roof areas where the original lifts and stair sections were,” says Chambers, “so rather than having a smoking area that’s hidden away you’d actually get a heightened area where you can look out over the local skyline.” Chambers wants to open to the public in time for the Olympics, although considering the scale of the project, this seems unlikely. But his intentions when it comes to music policy run in parallel with his economic ethos. “The whole project is based on having a big-name DJ with someone junior, up-and-coming, unseen and unheard of standing next to them,” he says. It’s an idea Team Mixmag holds very dear, so when Ajit asked us to suggest a name for the most exciting underground club to hit London in decades, ‘Platform 12’ seemed to sum it up perfectly. “Yes, Ajit replied, “hell yes!” With growing popular support, and assurances from Ajit that the finances are in place, the official green light from TFL and the government remains a hurdle. Still, we’re crossing our fingers that summer 2012 in London will shape up as a clubbing classic.