Site Records


Site Name: Chancery Lane deep shelter & Kingsway telephone exchange

31 - 33 High Holborn
London
W.C.1

Sub Brit visit 13th July 1996 & 25th February 2008

As already described, when originally built the shelter had three entrances which is unusual as all the other deep shelters had only two. One entrance (No. 1 shaft) was on the north side of High Holborn and utilised the old Chancery Lane station building. A second entrance (No. 2 shaft) was also within an existing building on the south side of High Holborn and the third entrance, which also acted as a ventilation shaft was on the east side of Furnival Street.  During WW2 this was the main entrance into the shelter but when the tunnels were extended in 1952 this was rebuilt as the main goods entrance with an external hoist and a new pedestrian entrance was built in Tooks Court on the opposite (west) side of Furnival Street. During this reconstruction No. 2 shaft was taken out of service and capped.

Photo:Kitchen with serving hatches
Photo by Nick Catford

In early 2008 we learnt that Kingsway is now surplus to requirements and has been put in the hands of BT Property for disposal. Access to the tunnels from 31/33 High Holborn has now been sealed and the building is being prepared for disposal with only the Furnival Street entrance retained for access.  A ventilation shaft in Fulwood Place at the rear of 31/33 High Holborn will be retained.

Underground little has changed since the visits in the mid 1990’s.  The last remaining telephone circuits have been disconnected and although the MDF is still in place it is now completely inert.  All the plant is still in situ and in good working order; the ventilation plant is still run from time to time.

The furniture in the recreation room at the west end of the bunker has been removed in recent years but the kitchen is still fully equipped. Apart from plant, most of the other rooms and tunnels have been stripped of all equipment and furniture.  There were two points of access to Chancery Lane Central Line station, a short lift and a flight of stairs. The stairs have been blocked at the top by a brick wall but the lift is still in place, although it hasn’t been used for many years it appears to be in good condition. All tunnels and connecting subways are generally clean dry and well lit.

Photo:The 'goods' entrance in Furnival Street with equipment hoist The door to the left of the goods door is the personnel entrance.
Photo by Nick Catford

Click here for personal recollections of Kingsway
Click here for sale details (PDF)

References:

  • Partridge, F.V., and Grant, G.C. London Trunk Kingsway Exchange, Post Office Electrical Engineers' Journal, Vol. 42 Part 2, July 1955, pp 87-93
  • Haward, J.W.G. Facilities in the United Kingdom for the Transatlantic Telephone Cable: Part 4 - T.A.T. Test, POEEJ, Vol.49 Part 4, January 1957, pp 431-434
  • Waters, H.S., and Yeo, B.F. Switching Arrangements in London for Telephone Calls over the Transatlantic Telephone Cable, POEEJ, Vol.49 Part 4, January 1957, pp 449-455

Sources:

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Last updated 3rd October 2008
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