The story continues. “Death by secret service is the new retirement plan for weapons scientists.” – Now read on…http://wp.me/P3uStY-2J
Archives For Government Communications Headquarters
Mysterious tunnels and secret passages are all part of English and European Folklore. The Cornish Fogou – pronounced foo-goo – are thought to be Pict in origin. (A civilisation that pre-dated the Roman occupation around the 10th century.) In essence one thing these passages and tunnels had in common was a need to provide safety, security, and shelter in secret.
Some tunnels near large houses during the eighteenth century were in fact passages to the fridge – where else would you put an ice house in a time that pre-dated electricity? Simple and innocent explanation. But there are far more sinister tunnels dating from periods of civil unrest and WWII and in preparation for the outfall of the cold war.
London is awash with ghost tunnels – no – not filled with spiritual apparitions, but old tube stations now closed but whose stations and tunnels can be seen from the tubes as you pass by. These silent dark stations are frozen in time, while current stations are refurbished and provide an eclectic mix of art, design and function, these remain with their dirty ceramic tiles, old signage, a modern archaeology ride through underground history. You can see them at King’s Cross on the Metropolitan line. On the Northern Line you can see the Bull and Bush station, between Hampstead and Golders Green, even though it was completed it was never opened, and there are many more examples.
General Eisenhower’s headquarters were housed at Goodge Street station, an underground bunker that was safe and secure against bombing. Sadly most of the WWII shelters that were prepared for government departments in the event of an invasion are used for document storage. But during the Cuban missile crisis, these tunnels were fully manned for a fortnight. Staff could have lived down there for months.
You can see the UK Cabinet War Rooms, now a tourist attraction costing about £17.00. It’s a huge underground complex under the Treasury building in Whitehall, it is reported that there were over 200 rooms, so only a fraction are open to the public. It isn’t only central government that had these underground emergency rooms. A small local government office, located near a strategic Royal Airforce Base, has such a room. I spent the best part of a day underground in these offices with a management team. I found the experience somewhat claustrophobic and that was with all the doors open. On the boards around the room were the remains of a planning exercise that rehearsed the appropriate actions in the event of some catastrophe happening at the air base. Fire, Police and Ambulance crews had all played a part, together with Ministry of Defence teams. It was scary stuff, and conducted in the post cold war era. Our enemies never seem far away these days, and we don’t even know who they are, or what they want.
Britain is not alone in having these underground shelters, in 2006 a New York cold war bomb shelter was discovered inside Brooklyn Bridge, under the Lower Manhattan entrance ramp. The room was stockpiled with decades-old military provisions. City officials kept the location secret, and most pedestrians pass by, oblivious to the history under their feet.
Under Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus there are a series of interconnected tunnels between various campus buildings, thought to date from a time when an insane asylum was on the site. The scientists met during the initial project stages of the Manhattan Project. An appropriate location? Maybe.
So from ancient folklore to modern secrets, tunnels and passageways still form part of security and shelter against our enemies. While there is still a need to keeping those tunnels in use secret, everyone hopes they will never be necessary.
Do you have any favourite secret tunnels? If so, do share picture and comments.
It’s been an odd week really. The BBC revealed that plants are doing quantum physics. (>http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22996054). Who knew? I don’t recall this being covered in ‘The secret life of plants’. I think my garden must be full of poets and artists because no plants have been seen “doing” quantum physics. But, they may be following the laws surreptitiously.
Then Edward Snowden revealed that secret intelligence services (UK and US) were listening in on delegates at conferences such as the G8. Who knew? Are you kidding me? Well clearly drama and fiction writers saw the potential. The Professionals a tv drama, written by Brian Clemens in late seventies, early eighties, had this as a plot line. Boss, Cowley, instructs his operatives to undertake the surveillance. Doyle replies something along the lines of ‘won’t they mind?’ To which Cowley says he rather thinks they expect it. Exactly! You can’t dismiss this as a product of the cold war era. If that example is too old, well it was also a plot line in the BBC drama ‘Spooks.’
Are Brits outraged at this revelation? Actually – no. We aren’t throwing our toys out of the cot with pompous statements such as, ‘we’re British and it simply won’t do.’ With the advent of mobile phones we are forced on trains, buses and in coffee shops to listen to the conversations of others, whether we like it or not. So I suppose we don’t find it as shocking to be caught listening to other people’s conversations.
We also have a much longer history of dealing with onshore terrorism than the USA. We see groups of individuals being brought to justice for planning terrorism and we accept we might not approve of the means of gaining the evidence, but we approve of the results. Bad guys go to jail and we are spared a terrorist attack. Given the choice between listening in and torture, well we prefer listening, you learn more.
We have been sleepwalking into the world of Big Brother for some time. (And I’m not referring to the TV show.) CCTV cameras are everywhere. (Go into a large garden centre and you will find nesting boxes for birds with CCTV!) Car number-plate cameras adorn the roadside, tracking our every move. Someone jokingly told me the other day that when a friend gave Gordon Brown a copy of George Orwell’s 1984 he thought it was a handbook. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 set out the parameters, and apart from a couple of amendments, Brits seem to be prepared to live with the compromise; safety for a lack of privacy.
Which brings me to the final secret of the week. The National Archives have declassified more documents and we find out the there have been sightings of UFO’s over the Houses of Parliament. <a href=”http://ufos.nationalarchives.gov.uk They don’t appear to have made contact, probably they are still looking for signs of intelligence life, life that they would like to communicate with.
So let me know if you have any UFO sightings, the picture is of a banana lamb in Liverpool, further sightings should also be shared, if your plants are ‘doing’ quantum physics, and if you thing your internet slows down for GCHQ.