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History of the Tunnels

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The History

For the first time, the Kingsway Exchange Tunnels will be open to the public – a new and unique opportunity to learn about London’s role in world history.

The London Tunnels, where history hides.

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1940 – 1942

Designed and constructed during the Blitz as a deep-level air-raid shelter at a level under the London Underground

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1944 – 1945

Occupied by Special Operations Executive during the latter stages of WWII, the location thought to have inspired Q branch in Ian Fleming’s Bond novels

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1949

General Post Office takes over occupation of the Tunnels, who at the time was also responsible for telephones as well as the postal system

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1956

The Tunnels becomes home to the UK’s termination point for TAT-1, the first transatlantic telephone cable

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1963

Kingsway Trunk Switching Centre, as the Tunnels became known, was used for a secure hotline that connected the White House to the Kremlin during the Cold War

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1981

UK Government transfers ownership of the Tunnels to British Telecom (BT)

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2008

BT announced that the tunnels were for sale

2021

The London Tunnels is established as an operational company

2023

BT agreed to sell the tunnels to The London Tunnels with plans to open the Tunnels to the public for the first time as a multi-sensory historical and cultural attraction

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2024

Phase 1 opening commences with Public Explorer Tours taking place pre-construction

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2025 -2026

Construction to begin of a state-of-the-art London attraction

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2027

Phase 2 opening of the Tunnels to the public with 2 million visitors experiencing curated heritage, cultural and interactive content with leading partners and local artists, museums and universities

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The London Tunnels

Encourage and spark curiosity and creative thinking

The London Tunnels experience will be curated by partnerships with leading names in entertainment and technology, to inspire exploration and imagination. It will become the destination for engaging stories about the capital, and its people throughout the 20th century.

The public will be able to walk through the tunnels for the first time in 2024, built in the 1940s and designed to protect Londoners during the Blitz. With their vast scale and long corridors, there is an opportunity to not only restore but recreate; allowing visitors to experience something truly unique, and to explore broader topics across the arts, nature and sciences.