British Queen celebrates


Central London is poised to unveil an extraordinary tourist attraction, akin to the iconic London Eye, as plans to open up the long-hidden Kingsway Exchange tunnels, an

expanse of underground passages spanning 8,000 square meters beneath High Holborn, are unveiled. The £220 million initiative aims to transform these enigmatic tunnels, once veiled in secrecy due to their wartime role as an MI6 base, into a captivating museum.

The site's acquisition was orchestrated by London Tunnels Ltd., a consortium set on exploring and sharing the tunnels' rich history with the public. Initially constructed during World War II as deep-level shelters during the Blitz, they later served as a vital base for the Special Operation Executive, often regarded as Winston Churchill's "secret army" and precursors to MI6.

During the Cold War, these tunnels underwent another transformation, operating as a covert telephone exchange responsible for managing the inaugural transatlantic telephone cable. This cable would later play a crucial role as the 'hotline' connecting Moscow and Washington during the Cuban missile crisis. The underground facility even boasted the deepest licensed bar in the UK and a restaurant stocked with rations to sustain hundreds for months, preparing for the threat of nuclear attacks.

The transformation of the tunnels into a contemporary tourist destination is set to include advanced features such as giant curved immersive screens, interactive structures, scent-emitting technology, and numerous individual acoustic pinpoint speakers, creating an immersive historical experience. The project anticipates a significant investment of £140 million in the site's restoration and preservation, along with an additional £80 million allocated for the installation of interactive screens. The projected opening date for this remarkable attraction is 2027.

The acquisition of this remarkable historical site was spearheaded by Angus Murray, a former president of Macquarie, a prominent asset management firm, and his private equity firm, Castlestone Management.

While the ambitious project holds immense promise, its realization hinges on securing planning permission from Camden council, a pivotal step that will determine the fate of this historical treasure.

Angus Murray expressed his vision for the tunnels, stating, "The history of the tunnels, their scale, and the location between London’s Holborn and the historic Square Mile could make these tunnels one of London’s most popular tourist destinations. We now wish to work with local stakeholders and residents to make this a reality and look forward to hearing their thoughts as we finalize a planning application."

When asked about the tunnels' potential status as an iconic attraction akin to the London Eye, Murray confidently responded, "Would I compare this to be as iconic as the London Eye? Yes, I would, who wouldn’t come here?"

The Kingsway Exchange tunnels, long dormant and unused, were taken over by BT in the 1980s. Despite BT's attempt to sell the site in 2008, difficulties in obtaining planning permission for this unique location prolonged the sales process. BT has not disclosed the financial details of the deal. Photo by John Pannell from Watford, UK, Wikimedia commons.