Bush House, London

Yesterday afternoon I took advantage of London Open House Day to visit a building I’d always wanted to explore – Bush House, home of the BBC World Service. The BBC occupied it from 1940 (and should be out by 2008) and it feels as grand as the home of the Empire Service should. Parts of the building are listed so they can’t do much work to alter the place so it does feel like you are stuck in a time warp. The tour got to visit a studio in the basement (on top of the original swimming pool) which was the highlight.

Pictures of the construction of some of the buildings hung on the walls. One showed the central building completed and standing alone at Aldwych Circle. In front of the building were entrances to a subterranean tram-way. When I was looking at it I assumed this was some early form of the London Underground as we know it (and, perhaps, it was). But – and by coincidence – I was reading Phil Gyford’s site earlier and came across a link to Subterranea Britannica.

Fascinated, as I am, by the hidden tunnels around London I was reading some of the entries when I came across references to the Kingsway Tramway Subway – which, it would seem, had an entrance right outside Bush House. The last tram ran in 1952 but, apparently, you can still see parts of the tunnels to this day. Of course, much of it is now part of the traffic subway (opened in 1964) but it’s another wonderful piece of London’s history which I will hunt out.

On this day…

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