Tunnels beneath central London, once used by the spies who inspired the creation of James Bond, are now being turned into a tourist attraction. Yes, you heard that right – in the next few years you can get a glimpse into the London Tunnels, a secret network of tunnels used by Winston Churchill and the inspiration for James Bond’s Q branch.
The tunnels have been bought over by Australian-born Angus Murray, a former executive at asset manager Macquarie Group, in a $269 million deal. His aim is to turn these into a tourist attraction making it as iconic as the London Eye over four years. As per reports, the James Bond Tunnels will have cylindrical rooms with gigantic screens to create immersive, blockbuster-inspired experiences.
Known as the Kingsway Exchange tunnels spread over 8000 square metres of pathways, it is said that these tunnels were used by MI6 officials during World War II and the Official Secrets Acts protected the area. Built in the 1940s, they were used to shelter Londoners from the Blitz bombing campaign during World War II. In 1944, the underground network became known as the ‘London Civil Defence Regional and Ministry of Works’ but this was a cover-up for the research and development of The Special Operations Executive, an offshoot of MI6. One notable member of the force was Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond novels who used the hidden network as an inspiration for Q Branch, say the London Tunnels LTD.
The new project, which has not yet been approved, hopes to take visitors on a journey across time to transport visitors back to the Blitz and then onto a secret spy journey through Cold War subterfuge.“The history of the tunnels, their scale and the location between London’s Holborn and the historic Square Mile could make these tunnels one of London’s most popular tourist destinations,” Murray said in a statement.
The plan is to invest $170.5 million in the restoration work and $97 million into all the immersive bells and whistles. According to him, there is space in the tunnels for eight times as many screens as the well-known billboard that dominates London’s Piccadilly Circus intersection. He hopes to partner with manufacturers like Samsung Electronics Co. or LG Corp. In addition to entertainment firms like Walt Disney Co. Hollywood studios like Warner Bros. Discovery and Amazon. The UK’s deepest pub is one of the historical elements that Murray plans to preserve, which was frequented by the engineers and clerks who worked underground.
Onboarding the stellar architects, Wilkinson-Eyre (the architects who worked on the recent £9 billion revamp of London’s Battersea Power Station) they may pull this off as one of the projects worth seeing.
London Underground offers tours exploring the city’s abandoned tube stations and tunnels but if the London Tunnels project goes ahead you’ll have to wait till 2027 to make a trip. And this could be well worth it.