Secrets of Underground London...

Old Jul 19th, 2015, 11:23 AM
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Secrets of Underground London...

Great show repeated last night on PBS' Secrets of Underground London - things burrowed into the depths of the earth - shown are the Brunels long efforts to make a foot tunnel under the Thames - a 20 year project or so - the first day it was open thousands waltzed thru - later it was turned into an Underground (Tube) tunnel still in existence.

Other places covered:

The London Silver Vaults - the 'world's largest repository of silver originally and now a silver shopping mall with numerous small dealers burrowed far below the surface. (Chancery Lane area)

The British Museum - its addition is going on way underground so visitors to the museum today do not even realize it - new exhibit spaces and other uses.

The British Library - every book you ever wanted to lay your hands on (not 'read' in today's world) - floors and floors of stacks reaching practically to China!

The Churchill War Rooms - During WW 2 to prevent the government from not being able to safely meet during the Blitz a series of rooms again hewn out far below ground - actually only two cabinet meetings were held here the show said and after the war it was allowed to crumble - footage from the 60s I think has it looking like something like an old abandoned Detroit factory or train station. Now rebahhed it is one of London's top tourist sights. Ironically in what was the deepest safest part of the really safe complex the British Museum stashed their most famous pieces - inclding disassembling whole altars and hiding them safer here!

Anyway forlks looking for something the eye may not see from above may enjoy catching up on these and other Mysteries of Underground London.

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Old Jul 19th, 2015, 01:15 PM
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Thanks, PalenQ. This sounds interesting.

Lee Ann
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Old Jul 19th, 2015, 05:21 PM
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There is also a place in the Museum of London where you can see some excavated Roman remains - fascinating!
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Old Jul 19th, 2015, 09:01 PM
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London walks also offers a Brunel walk - too many stairs and small spaces for me !!!
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Old Jul 20th, 2015, 05:00 AM
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"the Museum of London where you can see some excavated Roman remains"

The Museum of London, of course, features a lot about excavations and about what's been found in them. Bits of reconstructed Roman city wall are visible, where the original wall was, from right outside the museum. And it's usually the best place to update yourself on the ever-developing story of what new excavations have revealed about the City's history in particular, as well as occasional snippets about excavations elsewhere in London.

But, built as it is over more far more recent building, it doesn't incorporate any real excavation site.

The City's Guildhall Art Gallery, though, in the reconstructed medieval Guildhall, is built on the site of the Roman city's main amphitheatre, and the Gallery's basement incorporates a few bits of real survivals from its 2nd century stone version. The reconstructed outline of the amphitheatre covers most of the underground Gallery's floor.

The City of London has a complex relationship with its Roman past. Most of Europe's financial services industry is concentrated within the area bounded by London's Roman walls - and developing user needs are forcing its offices to be almost constantly rebuilt. Each rebuild is now required by statute to have an archaeological survey, then to seal its foundations till the next rebuild. We're now beginning to find today's technology is revealing stuff about London's past that couldn't
have been found out when an area was surveyed at the last rebuild 30 or 40 years ago. So, if all this interests you, it's always worth checking what's been found since last time.

The Museum of London's website (start at is the best place for this, since the best finds are usually re-sealed for the next few decades by the time a survey's been written up and peer reviewed (developers of expensive real estate are far more motivated to work round the clock than academics).

Other recent, now resealed, finds include a house and baths under Billingsgate ( and the basilica (in the early Empire: more or less a shopping mall/civic office complex) under 90 Gracechurch St (

Oddly, as PalQ was watching his TV show about London's tunnels, the National Trust was announcing today's reopening of the WW2 defence tunnels in Dover (
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Old Jul 20th, 2015, 09:28 AM
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I walked thru some of those tunnels at Dover Cliffs years ago - when they were just there and no official entry - we had to take torches to see our way - supposed now it's all lit and a neat experience.
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