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Report - Kingsway Telephone Exchange- 9-2013

Discussion in 'Underground Sites' started by gadgeturbex, Oct 20, 2013.

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  1. gadgeturbex

    gadgeturbex 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Nov 16, 2011
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    This, along with the Mail Grail has always been one of those London sites I never thought I'd see, yet I wanted to see the most. I had it planned out, with overlays on Google etc for yonks, but never had any intention of actually popping in. Funny how things change.

    The Kingsway Exchange or Chancery Lane deep shelter as it was first refered, started life out as just another London deep level shelter, with two 16 foot 6 inches internal diameter and 1,200 feet long parallel tubes. In March 1942 it was the first shelter to be completed ,designed to hold up to 8000 people during the second world war. However Kingsway was never opened to the public, instead it was used as a troop hostel towards the end of 1942.

    The decision to allocate citadel accommodation at Chancery Lane was taken in January 1944, half to the operational staffs of the London Civil Defence region and Ministry of Works, plus some space for Combined Operations and the Inter Services Research Bureau (alias ISRB).

    Amoung these were,

    Inter Services Research Bureau - which was a cover name for the research and development section of Special Operations Executive (SOE), itself an offshoot of M16 set up initially to help the Resistance in German-occupied countries.

    Government Communications Bureau - which was another cover name, relating to the combined signals intelligence (SIGINT) organisation of the three armed services. It later took the name of, and became more familiar as, Government Communications Headquarters or GCHQ.

    After the war, Chancery Lane attracted new occupiers. In 1945 it came to attract the attention of the Public Record Office, then located nearby in Chancery Lane itself. The PRO were interested in storing 400 tons of documents in the tube if it could be assured of four years' occupation and this was agreed on 27th June 1945, with London Transport agreeing not to exercise its purchase option.

    Two years before the departure of the PRO a new use for the shelter had been identified. Following the end of WW2, the Government initiated the inevitable post mortem discussions and appraisals of the performance of the Post Office telephone system during the war. Vulnerabilities were recognised and led to an application to the Home Office in 1949 for "special accommodation for the important long-distance terminal apparatus which is the most vulnerable part of the Post Office system and the protection of which would be vital to the country's communications in time of war". Out of this were born broad-ranging plans for new hardened installations across the whole country, of which a new protected trunk exchange was one particular element.

    The exchange opened to traffic on 30th October 1954, marking a significant milestone in the progress of inland trunk switching mechanisation
    in Britain. The new exchange was called Kingsway but known to Post Office staff more generally as TZK (Trunk Zone Exchange Kingsway) or LTK (London Trunk Kingsway).
    The exchange was not particularly close to road named Kingsway but this conformed to an established Post Office procedure of giving important facilities names that had a geographical meaning but a deliberately inaccurate guide to their location, clever hu?

    A city under the city - that is Kingsway trunk exchange, 100 feet beneath the Holborn area of London. Fully self-contained, Kingsway could seal itself off from the rest of London and its 200 Post Office staff could go on working there in comfort and safety. The exchange is air-conditioned, has its own water supply from an artesian well and emergency power from four diesel generators. Fuel tanks hold 22,000 gallons, enough to keep the generators going for six weeks.

    The history of this place is interesting (to me) and goes into great detail on Subbrit!!

    Visited with Fortknox0 and Frosty.

    The blast door at the base of the goods shaft.

    Looking through from the goods shaft to Goods Ave.

    Junction at Goods Ave & Cable Alley


    Leading to the BT deep cable tunnels.

    A couple of the MDF-Main distribution frame.













    Lift to Chancery Lane.

    These indicator panels were a beauty.

    If you've visited, chances are motor 2 gave you a fright too...





    I don't really do reports, but I do love TZK.
    Oxygen Thief likes this.

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