Deep Beneath London, Onetime Bomb Shelters Will Become a Tourist Attraction

There’s a locked door on the eastbound platform of the Chancery Lane station of the London Underground. The door is unassuming, sturdy and white.

Behind it is a wide set of stairs leading to a roughly mile-long maze of tunnels built in the 1940s that were first intended to serve as a World War II shelter and later used for espionage, the storage of 400 tons of government documents and telecom services.

Welcome to the Kingsway Exchange tunnels, set roughly 100 feet below street level in the center of London, sprawling beneath the Underground’s Central Line. Soon they could enter a new chapter: Angus Murray, the owner of the complex, who bought the tunnels last summer, has applied for planning permission to the local authorities together with the architecture firm WilkinsonEyre to turn the tunnels into a tourist destination that could handle millions of people a year.

Mr. Murray’s London Tunnels is planning to invest a total of 220 million pounds (about $275 million) on restoring and preserving the tunnels, as well as adding technology for art installations and other attractions. Mr. Murray hopes to open the complex in 2027, and said that it would be able to host temporary art exhibitions, fashion shows and more.

The tunnels were originally proposed by the British government during World War II.Credit…THE LONDON TUNNELS
The proposed tourist attraction could host art exhibitions and fashion shows.Credit…WilkinsonEyre

At the moment, entering the tunnels requires riding a small elevator tucked behind a side door in an alleyway off a wide street in central London. (Visitors to the attraction would use a different, bigger entrance, Mr. Murray said.)

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