I can say that my long journey began there, inside this, the most hidden London gem. It was one of those magical nights, when you feel that everything is possible.
The night was freezing and windy, after climbing one of Barbican towers we headed towards Kingsway. I didn’t know at that time that we were one of the first explorers, who had an amazing opportunity to explore this place.
The visit was overwhelming, all I could feel was fear and excitement. It was like entering totally different world, where time has stopped many years ago.
I couldn’t have enough of it, wanted spend more time walking down never ending corridors
Seeing doors that lead nowhere
Everything was just like one of those dreams, when you don’t want to wake up. All I wanted was to feel everything deeper, enjoy every second spent there.
It was one, magical night, spent with a great friends. I’ve never visited Kingsway after, never seen all of it, but my journey started there.
Some more pictures:
The Kingsway telephone exchange was built as a deep-level shelter underneath Chancery Lane tube station in the early 1940s. Although intended for use as an air raid shelter, like many of the deep level shelters it was not used for its intended purpose and was instead used as a government communications centre.
The site was given to the General Post Office (GPO) in 1949. At the time, the Post Office was also responsible for telephones as well as postal system. The two-tunnel shelter was extended by the addition of four tunnels at right-angles to the originals. This extension was completed by 1954, and in 1956 it became the UK termination point for TAT-1, the first transatlantic telephone cable.
Throughout the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, Kingsway Trunk Switching Centre (as it became known) was a trunk switching centre and repeater station with Post Office engineering staff totalling over 200 at its peak. Also located on site was the Radio Interference Investigation Group, whose function was to prevent television viewers and radio listeners in north and central London from suffering interference to their service from external sources such as thermostats, fluorescent tubes and injection moulding equipment. The country’s first Radiopaging terminal was also installed on this site in the 1970s.
The site had a staff restaurant, tea bar, games room and licensed bar. Its bar claimed to be the deepest in the United Kingdom, located at approximately 200 feet below street level. The site contained an artesian well and rations to maintain several hundred people for many months, ensuring a safe environment in case of nuclear attack.
By the early 1980s the site was subject to a phased closure after large quantities of blue asbestos were found on the site. By 1995 only the main distribution frame was still in service. This reportedly has been removed.
In October 2008, British Telecom announced that the tunnels were for sale.
I was still daydreaming while driving back home. Woke up to reality late in the morning to find out a typical “fishing for info” text from Mr Muscle. Oh well, luckily it didn’t take me long to learn that.