£220m plan to restore secret wartime tunnels approved

Aaron Morby 1 month ago

Deep-level underground wartime shelter tunnels in London’s High Holborn area are set to become the Capital’s latest tourist attraction.

City of London Corporation planners have given the thumbs up to a £220m scheme to convert the warren of tunnels into a visitor and cultural attraction.

In developing the underground site, buildings at 38-41 Furnival Street would be combined into a single structure, with the ground floor used as the main entrance the tunnels.

Works include demolition of the existing buildings at Furnival Street to enable construction of a new five-storey entrance building with a three-storey basement.

The Kingsway Exchange Tunnels tunnels, an intentionally misleading name to hide its true location under Chancery Lane station, were bought from BT by Australian fund manager Angus Murray last year. His private equity-backed developer London Tunnels Ltd is bringing forward the scheme.

The 8,000 sqm of passageways, located 40m below High Holborn, were originally constructed as a deep-level shelter for 10,000 people during the Second World War. The Tunnels were kept secret for nearly 60 years under the Official Secrets Act and were once home to the Special Operations Executive (SOE), an offshoot of MI6.

007 creator Ian Fleming worked in the tunnels as liaison officer to the SOE and in his first Bond book “Casino Royale” referenced them as the location for M’s Q Branch gadget development labs.

Heritage Exhibition will reveal and celebrate the history of the tunnels and their role in WWII and the Cold War

By the mid-1950s the tunnels became home to a protected telephone exchange in the Cold War era, the ‘hotline’ between the White House and the Kremlin ran directly through the exchange and was used during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

£140m will be spent restoring and preserving the Tunnels, as a unique and valuable piece of the Country’s historical heritage

The London Tunnels project team includes architect Wilkinson Eyre, project manager Gardiner & Theobald, and WSP providing all engineering disciplines.

Cultural Exhibition space for contemporary artists to exhibit fully immersive digital artworks and installations.

The visitor attraction will reflect past uses and contain an immersive view of the universe while also containing a plush deep underground bar.

Deepest bar in UK, celebrating what used to be the staff canteen when the tunnels were in operation.

The centre is expected to bring an estimated £60-85m of extra footfall spending to the local area, per year.

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