Sub-Brit Lecture at the Building Centre

Was back at the Building Centre in central London this morning for the final of their breakfast talks on subterranean London as part of their current exhibition. This morning’s talk was hosted by Andrew Smith from Subterranea Britannica (sub-brit), an organisation I am also a member of, and was a basic overview of what lies under London.

Despite being aimed at the “layman”, it was still interesting for me to attend, as it reminded me of things I have meant to visit but keep forgetting – especially a bunker in the basement of a block of flats in Crystal Palace. There is a disused tunnel in the vicinity and sold old railway remains I want to look for – so it is planned for a nice day out with the maps.

He spent a fair bit of time talking about the old Royal Observer Corps (ROC) bunkers which are dotted all over the country – and showed some details of one that is inside Heathrow airport itself. These tiny bunkers, just one room in size were designed to house three volunteers who would then report on where nuclear bombs were going off in time of war so that local governments could plan their emergency aid.

There is a fantastic restored central command centre at York – which was recently saved and a team from the ROC carried out one of their test drills and the base is now left exactly as they had it for the test. Unfortunately, as the bunker is not in the town centre, you do need to book to make a visit as they have to send someone down from English Heritage to open it up – but it is worth a visit.

As I said, the lecture was the last in the current series at the Building Centre, and the exhibition itself closes this weekend.

Out of the series of talks, I managed to get to the talk on Crossrail, and an excellent evening talk on methods of Cooling the London Underground.

There will be another few exhibitions this year which have caught my eye – one on how to cram more housing into London – and a very interesting one, on London’s Bridges.

Oh, if you want a 2.6 metre scale model of the cutting head from a TBM – they have one from the exhibition and need to dispose of it. I would have loved to have it – but the spare room is shortly to be sublet to a flatmate. Oh well.

Whats's on in London: today or tomorrow or this weekend

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