October 16, 2008 / 3:29 PM / 10 years ago

Secret London wartime tunnel complex for sale

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A once-secret 1940s tunnel complex under the center of London that housed military intelligence and linked the cold war hot line phone between Washington and Moscow has been put up for sale.

Former state telephone monopoly BT says the one mile long network of tunnels below Chancery Lane underground station is now surplus to requirements.

The complex was dug in 1942 as a bomb shelter for 8,000 people during World War Two but was taken over by military authorities as a communications and intelligence center.

The Public Records Office used the site, known as Kingsway Tunnels, after the war to store historic documents.

The Post Office later took over the property as a more secure location for its long distance phone exchange, including the 1950s hot line directly connecting the White House and the Kremlin.

When telephony was split from the Post Office, the tunnels passed to British Telecom, now privatized and known as BT.

In the 1980s the government used part of the complex as a temporary backup for its top secret Pindar war control bunker.

Sales agent Farebrother said there had already been a lot of interest in the now disused property.

It has a total floor area of around 7,100 sq meters (76,420 sq ft) but can only be reached by two street-level lifts, restricting its potential use.

Farebrother partner Niall Gallagher said there had been an “eclectic” mix of enquiries.

“Private individuals, companies, corporations, government departments — we’ve got the whole spectrum at the moment,” he added.

Reporting by Tim Castle, editing by Paul Casciato

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