Not a lot of people know that! May 1, 2005 10:04:39 GMT
Post by q8 on May 1, 2005 10:04:39 GMT
I found this bit of info quite interesting
One of the world’s truly great cities, London is also on of the most ‘visited’ cities in the world and holds a special place in the hearts of an extraordinary number of people. But as well as the London we know so well, it is a city with an extraordinary richness of subterranean secrets, perhaps not surprising given that ‘going under’ became a necessity earlier than most for this ancient, crowded metropolis.
Today it is a rich urban archaeological dig, complete with a myriad of abandoned deep-level Cold War shelters, over 40 abandoned Tube stations and WW2-vintage bunkers designed to protect against Hitler’s V1 and V2 rocket attacks. At Chancery Lane, in central London, there is a shelter that during the height of the Cold War kept a six-week supply of food and had its own artesian well.
In addition to the tunnels that urban explorers and historians have discovered, there remains much still hidden. Planners of any substantial building proposed today in London have their plans looked over by the ministry of Defence, in case the building might impinge on any underground structure or tunnel. Many plans are knocked back - with no word why. In some areas planners have given up any plans to build. They know there is something down there, but they don’t know what.
Several formerly secret military command centers from both World War 2 and the Cold War are now no longer classified. Down Street station on the London Underground was once a command center for Churchill. Two massive old gas tanks were converted into an underground command center in central London during the war and a semi-secret underground railway was built for London Post to allow them to deliver important mail if London was under attack. Deep level shelters were also built, directly beneath many existing underground railway stations - the plan being to connect these tunnels up into high speed tube lines after the war. Many of these shelters still exist today.
In 1986 police found a body at the bottom of a lift shaft in Brompton Road station in trendy South Kengsington, just a few minutes walk from Harrods. It took several months to identify the unknown body. It turned out to be a student at a military college located above the abandoned tube station. He had attempted to break into the station one night for some exploring. He forced his way through a wooden door blocking the way into the station. Unbeknownst to him the door opened into a lift shaft. While he was noticed missing within a few days, no one made the connection with the abandoned station. His body was not found until several years later.
In the south of London, university student Andrew explores in between studying and his work as a stage manager at Royal College. Together with his friend Ed, a fireworks manufacture and Aleks, a soldier in the British Army, the three have explored now covered over rivers of London, old underground optics factories, bunkers, abandoned railways and a massive abandoned mental asylum. They have had mad dogs chase them out of the asylum, and have been questioned by police about midnight activities. They also operate pirate radio transmissions – which have a huge following in London. Andrew and Ed also produce the major transmitters for pirate radio stations. As the Dept. of Communications in London tend to hunt down these transmitters, they are built cheaply, as they need to be replaced regularly.
We also meet QOO3H, a 28 year old software developer from Birmingham. This urban explorer specialises in underground watercourses, including the river Fleet underneath London. QOO3H discovered a large drain exit emptying into the Thames at Embankment near Blackfriars Station, exactly where the mouth of the river used to be. The entrance had been completely built over before the start of the 1800s and is now is uncovered only at low tide. The entrance is submerged about 10m at high tide, which makes for nerve-wracking expedition. We will also explore the river Rea which flows right underneath the streets of Birmingham.
Finally, to the river Aire in Leeds, which is attached to the canal network at points and runs underneath the main train station next to Granary Wharf. The highlight of this trip is a spectacular torch-lit rubber dinghy ride on this built-over river beneath the city.beneath the city.
If New York is America’s best-known city, then arguably Chicago is its most enthralling. Chicago developed an unwanted, although well deserved, reputation for gangsterism and violence in the early part of the last century and its Ali Baba-like warren of subterranean spaces played an important part in the prohibition bootlegging of the period. Chicago is the original ‘skyscraper city’ and to support these amazing edifices it was amongst the first ‘modern’ cities to devise complex subterranean arteries of water, sewerage and steam to support such concentrations of humanity. These previously undreamt of warren of tunnels and pipes became the blueprint for cities the world over.
Chicago Urban Exploration (CUE) is a large group of explorers with a wide variety of members. Shyx, the founder of the group has a background in the construction industry as a concrete inspector, is independently wealthy so she is able to devote a lot of her time to exploring – and is our guide through the Chicago underground. CUE has had a very interesting short history. Only last year they were involved in the infamous Chicago cyanide case. A young man approached them to explore the transit tunnels, and although he presented himself to them as being harmless, he had been stashing cyanide in the Chicago tunnels to kill rats. When police encountered him with a minor exploring tunnels they uncovered the cyanide stocks. The FBI questioned CUE and their involvement with the man - who was also found to have been involved with destroying several power transformers in his youth. He is now facing a sixteen year prison term – and the CUE has become understandably cautious.
When people think of urban exploration in Chicago, often they think of the Chicago Tunnel Company and the huge network of tunnels that run under the city, although a surprise awaits a few hours drive south of Chicago in the town of Manteno. There is not much to see here – it’s is what is behind the town that is interesting - Manteno is home to the largest abandoned mental asylum in the United States. More than two dozen buildings housed over five thousand patients. Most of these buildings were left to rot. Some still have mysterious reminders of the past residents. Lockers in the basements, food serving trolleys, beds, hydrotherapy baths, signs, a stretcher with leather straps. In the basement is a maze of tunnels connecting all the buildings in the enormous complex
Although a relatively modern city, beneath its glossy veneer Sydney’s underbelly snakes with tunnels and drains that in some cases date back to the early days of convict settlement. Who would think there’s a 21 kilometre tunnel wending its way from Lane Cove to Manly, or over five kilometres of storm water drains linking Surrey Hills, Chinatown and Darling Harbour, all of it of such size as to be navigable by urban explorers. Sydney, like London, also decided to dig beneath its streets to create large section of its central city rail system. Built in the pre-WW2 era, there are parts long disused and forgotten…except by an adventurous few.
Industrial decline and renewal in the last few decades has also seen many of Sydney’s earliest factories, reservoirs and power plants pensioned off. Many have been demolished, but some survive and provide a rich tapestry of decaying underground warrens which testify not only to the city’s past, but also provide a source of inescapable curiosity.
We are led under Sydney by one of Australia’s pioneer urban explorers who goes by the name of Panic. Panic works in defence, and runs one of the largest UE websites around and who was the first in Australia to drive a car…down a drain. He has explored over a hundred drains in sixteen cities around the world and favours Sydney tunnels with names like Gobbeldox, Chicken Pox, and the Abyss – so named because it opens up near the tip of a cliff with a fifty metre drop.
With Panic, we will explore bunkers in Sydney from the public coastal batteries which once defended the coast to a formerly secret military command center in Bankstown. Then there’s the massive Hyde Park bunker- fully underground, in the center of Sydney. This bunker is one of the largest underground bunkers in the country. Originally built as part of a plan to extend rail lines east, during World War 2 it was converted to a series of bunkers – with an entrance in Hyde Park. Soldiers and secretaries worked and lived down in the tunnels (it is rumored that McArthur had an office down there). Today you can still see remains of the messages scrawled by the soldiers posted on the tunnels: names, dates, service numbers.
At the other end of these tunnels, (almost beneath the centre of Sydney, Martin Place) old railway tunnels form a large underground lake - easily large enough for several people to go boating on. The tunnel disappears around a curve into blackness.