Shelter From The Economic Storm

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 112 months ago
Shelter From The Economic Storm
1510_airraid.jpg

It must be tough being a fat-cat banker: after all, having trousered millions in bonus payments over the years, the crash of 2008 has rendered your profligate bank insolvent and you've had to fall on your sword and call in the government. Doubly tough, then, for the boss of Icelandic bank Kaupthing, who bought a £10.5 million mansion in West London - smack in the middle of his irate and newly-endebted customers. He needs a bolt-hole to shelter from the seething masses, and we think this period property might be perfect: an air raid shelter, dug 100ft under the city's streets, which has just come onto the market.

The Kingsway Tunnels, also known as the Kingsway Telephone Exchange, lie beneath Holborn and are almost a mile long. Built during WW2, they were subsequently transferred to the General Post Office. Once the termini for the TATI, the first transatlantic telephone cable, the site has been in general decline for years. Now owned by BT, it is apparently up for sale to the highest bidder, with an underground cinema (yay!) or a nightclub (boo!) the most probable occupants - assuming our Icelandic friend doesn't snap it up first; what it lacks in en-suite jacuzzi and concierge service it more than makes up for in security.

There's a great site visit on the Subterranea Britannica website, and if you're looking for more chthonic curiosities, of which Holborn in general is well endowed, have a gander at our subterranean London map

Image by Son of Pepys via the Londonist Flickrpool

Last Updated 15 October 2008

cobo04

The Kingsway Telephone Exchange was in operation up to about mid 1983 when control was passed to local units.

it was known as TZK - Trunk Zone Kingsway. Did a tour of the place just before closure. not my thing, too claustrophobic for my liking.

Apart from that, another bit of London history comes to an end. Wonder what the new owners will use it for?