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Report - Guardian Underground Telephone Exchange, Manchester

Discussion in 'Underground Sites' started by Pete McKenzie, Feb 13, 2007.

  1. Pete McKenzie

    Guest

    I think I've seen something about these on here before, but I can't find it now. Anyway, here's a piece from today's Manchester Evening News:

    http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/s/236/236056_raid_on_tunnel_network_sparked_big_terror_alert_.html

    "Tuesday, 13th February 2007
    Raid on tunnel network sparked big terror alert
    Mike Slingsby

    BURGLARS sparked a major terrorist scare when they broke into a network of tunnels beneath Manchester city centre, a court heard.

    The thieves struck hours after the failed July 21 bombing attempts in London in 2005 at a time when police in Manchester were on high alert.

    Officers were tipped off after British Telecom received complaints about problems with phone lines in the city. It was discovered there had been a break-in at a small BT building in Islington Street, Salford.

    The building gives access to a network of tunnels built in the 1950s as a secret telecommunications centre designed to withstand a nuclear bomb strike.

    A team of forensic experts was sent into the tunnels amid fears the break-in might be a terrorist incident. But it was discovered it was nothing more than a burglary.

    The intruders had stolen BT tools worth £14,000 before causing £20,000 damage to phone lines.

    A discarded cigarette end was found at the scene, and a DNA analysis led police to 29-year-old Duncan Ritchie, Manchester Crown Court heard.

    Ritchie, of Rodney Street, Salford was jailed for 10 months after admitting burglary. He admitted stealing some of the tools but denied vandalising phone cables.

    Tunnels

    Michael Johnson, defending, said Ritchie had entered the tunnels as a drunken prank when he saw a group of people standing outside their entrance.

    "He was not part of the vandalism and he does not accept he took all the items which went missing," said Mr Johnson.

    But Judge Anthony Ensor said he believed the break-in would have required a `considerable amount of planning'.

    He told Ritchie: "This was a serious incident.

    "The police treated it as a terrorist incident because of the unhappy timing with terrorist activity in London." The court heard that bricks had been removed from around the BT building which allowed access to the underground network.

    Prosecutor Tina Landale said: "At first police believed it was a terrorist incident and acted accordingly, with a full forensic team being sent into the tunnels."

    The tunnels are part of the Guardian Underground Telephone Exchange, built in 1955 at a cost of £4m as a secret communications centre in the event of a Soviet nuclear strike on Manchester.

    They lie 112ft below ground and run for over two miles from one entrance in Islington Street to another in Ardwick.

    The main tunnel is below Back George Street, where telecoms staff worked 24 hours a day on six switchboards in the bunker, which had its own water supply and a six-week supply of food.

    Soon after the tunnels were built they became virtually obsolete and were abandoned in the 1970s.

    They are still used by BT to run cables under the city centre. A fire in one tunnel in March 2004 resulted in 130,000 phones being cut off in the Manchester area."
     

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  2. Nocturnal

    Nocturnal Guest
    Guest

    Went for a recky of the Guardian Underground Telephone Exchange sites with Ginja Ninja this evening, we visited the main entrance on George Street, the Ardwick vent shaft at Lockton Close and the Salford vent shaft on Islington Street. There has been a lot of activity at all 3 sites.

    The George Street site:


    This site currently has about 8 porta cabins inside the compound and has building site regalia on the front gate (hard hats must be worn, protective footwear…). The company doing the building work is a civil engineering contractor called Morgan Est.

    Ginja Ninja hopped the fence to get a closer look, he didn’t get any pics but apparently there is nothing out of the ordinary inside the compound and no work is being carried out above ground.

    Here is a picture of the site from the recky:
    [​IMG]
    (Sorry about the poor picture quality, I only had my camera phone)​

    The only other thing that looks different is that the garage door at the back of George Street has been bricked up.
    [​IMG]


    The Ardwick site:


    This is the before picture courtesy of http://www.cybertrn.demon.co.uk/guardian/
    [​IMG]

    The site has completely changed and now looks like this:
    [​IMG]
    (Once again sorry about the picture quality)​

    You can hear a loud humming sound from what sounds like a very powerful air-conditioning unit.


    The Salford site:


    This site has also been completely rebuilt. Here is a picture of the site in June 2006 courtesy of Damon:
    [​IMG]

    Here is what the site looks like now:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It has 2 fences surrounding it, the inner one with spiked rollers on the top. It has razor wire coils on the roof and a new very solid looking metal door (so it’s quite secure lol).

    At this site we could hear the same humming as at the Ardwick site.
     
  3. Oxygen Thief

    Oxygen Thief Admin
    Staff Member Admin

    Joined:
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    Home Page:
    [​IMG]

    Is the one opposite the Travel Inn - if not - there's another similar one there.
     
  4. LAC

    LAC Guest
    Guest

    Strange as it may seem, given the amount of information which is publicly available, Birmingham ANCHOR appears to still be classified (see below) :confused:

    [​IMG]


    "Mr G E Downs telephoned me yesterday afternoon. He referred to certain tunnelling operations being undertaken by [redacted] and of which he assumed I would be aware. Mr Downs then said that in connection with similar operations which they were undertaking in Birmingham [redacted] had been strongly advised by their consulting engineers, [redacted] to undertake a full survey of all premises in the area concerned in order to safeguard themselves against claims from owners of property at any future date. Experience showed that while such a survey might be fairly expensive, it saved a great deal of money i the long run. The proposal was that this procedure should also be applied to the London operations."

    These redactions, which obviously refer to the Post Office and Birmingham ANCHOR, were made by the Cabinet Office only a few weeks ago. :confused:

    There is, however, a chance that this might be an example of over zealous redacting. :rolleyes:


    LAC:D
     
  5. user928

    user928 Guest
    Guest

    There might be some pointers at entrances etc in old article about the fire, like this one

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/manchester/have_your_say/2004/03/31/phones_day3.shtml


    [​IMG]

    EDIT

    In fact reading some of the links about the fire, located upon on the right hand side of this article, shows how it’s a backbone in regards general communication and probably the reason for the security around it – as some idiot or nut job running amok in there could cause a whole lot of headaches LOL

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/3701267.stm


    EDIT 2

    An interesting little read

    http://www.btglobalservices.com/business/global/en/business/collaboration/openinnovation_print.html


    Not only in relation to the tech that may exist and detect anyone within these tunnels, but the reference to the diverse routing and routing validation – makes you wonder, if you were a concerned customer, how much detail they reveal within such a document
     
    #5 user928, Sep 19, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2007
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