Friday, November 21, 2008

Interesting: MI6's Secret London Tunnels

Via The Economist.

Pedaling to work each day, I spend most of the journey looking out for London’s deadly, articulated “bendy buses”. The 60-foot beasts can happily scissor a cyclist while turning, so as I speed along High Holborn I have never given much of a second glance to the buildings that whizz past on each side.

That might be why I have never noticed anything unusual about 39 Furnival Street. A brick building in a row of offices, its black double-doors are unmarked and unremarkable. But if you stop for a moment and look up, you might reconsider that judgment. Above the entrance is an industrial-size cast-iron pulley—odd in a street of legal firms. Above that, curiouser still: a wide, gaping air vent of the sort that you might see at the top of a mine-shaft.

What lies inside was once subject to the Official Secrets Act. But now this mysterious property is up for sale, and so I find myself with a few other journalists on the other side of the doors, signing consent forms and handing in my mobile phone (whose signal had mysteriously vanished as soon as I crossed the threshold). A lift takes us down 100 feet, deeper than the London Underground, which we can hear rumbling above us. A set of atom-bomb-proof doors are swung open and we step out into the secret of Furnival Street: the Kingsway tunnels, a miniature city beneath a city.

More here.


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