Saturday, 28 August 2010
Last night I happened to be walking along High Holborn and thought I would check out what had happened at Nos. 31/33, a former employment agency office. For many years, directly on the street, you could see the grimy fire-damaged entrance to the lift leading down to the hugely impressive Kingsway underground bunker, a major telecommunications hub and home to various 'secret' government departments at various times. A good deal of information about this formerly reticent structure appears in the new edition of Subterranean City. It was put up for sale last year and received a fair amount of publicity - there are news reports on You Tube and numerous newspaper articles out there.
For many months from 2009 into this year it was obvious that major structural work was taking place above ground - the building had been bought by a property developer and was sheathed in scaffolding and protective sheeting. The results of their labours were clearly visible last night as the work has been completed. The building is unrecognisable at street level (I walked past it and had to come back) and now rejoices in the name 'Chancery Station House' (the tube station is close by and this was formerly the site of the entrance) and has been converted into the all-too-familiar 'luxury apartments'. You can peer through a small area of clear glass in the front door and see a perfectly normal-looking entrance area with lifts - it would be interesting to know whether they also go down as well as up. I am assuming access to the bunker from here is now impossible - there is, however, still a prominent entrance with a freight lift in Furnival Street. As far as I am aware a buyer has not yet been found for the bunker itself.