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London's Secret Tubes [Hardcover]

Andrew Emmerson , Tony Beard
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: 19.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

Sep 2007
Strange, derelict surface buildings looking like art déco tube stations, odd passages leading apparently nowhere on the Underground and half-remembered tales of government bunkholes and hideaways deep below the streets of London…

On these and similar subjects rumours have abounded for years. Now, for the first time, an authoritative and intriguing book tells comprehensively the true story of the vast underground shelters and government citadels constructed during the Second World War and afterwards. Other revelations include never-before published details of express tube railway lines to relieve congestion on existing tracks, the plans to relocate the complete mechanism of government and parliament to north-west London, and the standby studios constructed underground by the BBC in case Broadcasting House was destroyed. Details are given of disused tube stations converted to other uses and the vast underground factory constructed in tunnels intended for a new tube line. Speculation over notable projects half constructed and then abandoned is exposed as myth as well.

In clear, factual terms a team of specialist authors set out the results of extensive primary research, much of which has never been published before. Enhancing the text are dozens of archival and other photographs, nearly all seen for the first time in London’s Secret Tubes.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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London's Secret Tubes + London's Disused Underground Stations + Do Not Alight Here: Walking London's Lost Underground and Railway Stations
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Capital Transport Publishing; 2nd Revised edition edition (Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1854143115
  • ISBN-13: 978-1854143112
  • Product Dimensions: 27.6 x 21 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 199,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Andrew Emmerson is a writer and researcher on technology subjects by profession. His fascination for transport, telecommunications and underground obscurities were the initial inspiration for this book, which expanded rapidly as researches uncovered ever more intriguing material. As well as being president of the Telecommunications Heritage Group, he is a member of Subterranea Britannica, CAMRA and far too many other groups and societies.

Tony Beard has since 1965 combined his lifelong interest in London and its transport systems with an association with the 2RT2 Bus Preservation Group. Appropriately his first book was a co-authorship with Alan Townsin, The First RTs; his second By Tube Beyond Edgware was published in 2002. The last war also features highly among his interests, making research for this latest project doubly rewarding. Tony is a member of the London Topographical Society and the London Underground Railway Society, also Honorary Treasurer for the Cuneo Society. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
92 of 93 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sober and detailed account of underground London 16 Nov 2004
This book comes with a pedigree - it's largely drawn from the research of Subterranea Britannica, a group dedicated to exploring and exposing some of the stranger tunnels, basements and bunkers of Britain - particularly those with a military, intelligence or civil defence history.
The story starts with use of Tube tunnels to store art in the First World War, and then moves on to discuss later uses...
Not everything in the book is military - some detail is given on abandoned express-Tube projects, which leads into the construction of the deep-level shelters that exist under some Tube stations - the plan was that when the war ended these might be linked up into an express line. These shelters rapidly found other military (and later civilian) use, and much of the book covers their history, as well as use of unfinished Tube extensions in the East End as both shelters and shadow factories.
Underground headquarters and tunnels used by the Admiralty, BBC, railways, GPO and Cabinet Office are all described in detail, with the highlight being the extensive description of the vast Kingsway complex.
The book also describes the post-War (and post-Cold War) uses to which many of these tunnels and establishments have been put (although rather deliberately skips over post-War civil defence and government control...) and the current status of many of them; it also dispels quite a few myths about underground London.
The prose is concise and informative and occasionally atmospheric, with illustrations well-chosen and reproduced, and all in all this is a useful, accessible and interesting addition to the literature on subsurface London.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Secret Stuff 13 Oct 2007
Anyone interested in official secrets and the cold war will find this book extraordinary, although its scope includes WW2 London. The photographs, of sites that used to be highly classified, are one of its strengths. Bunkers galore, underground shelters and some unexpected history. One of the best sections covers life inside the Churchill's Cabinet War Rooms.

The title is unnecessarily restrictive and might deter all but trainspotters. In fact the book covers much more than just tubes with all manner of secret underground sites and is not strictly confined to London.

The research that went into this has clearly been exhaustive as the historical detail is accurate bar a few quibbles. One at least of the authors appears to have a strong background in telecoms which is just as well as the most notorious secret tunnels, those connecting government departments in Whitehall, turn out to be mainly communications tunnels, though in theory passable by secret civil servants.

A fascinating antedote to conspiracy theorists and good gift to armchair archeologists of a military bent.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Book 4 Jan 2011
By Keith
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a frequent traveller to London, and a fan of the tube, I thoght it would be interesting to read a bit more about the more unusual uses which the tube has been put to.

I saw the book in a shop in London, and after a flick through decided that I had to buy it (on Amazon of course as it was cheaper!).

Took a while to get through it, and found myself dipping in and out rather than reading through it all at once, but it was certainly worth the effort.

There is so much information in there on the many and various once secret things the underground system was once used for. It isn't just confined to the tube tunnels or stations and covers so much more as well.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in the tube system and it's varied uses in history!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great but slightly flawed 6 Nov 2009
This is undoubtedly a fascinating book, pulling together much information to create a very comprehensive picture of the underground tunnels and bunkers to be found under London. It is certainly the best book I have read so far on this interesting subject.

However it does have two slight flaws - firstly, for some reason all the pictures throughout the book have been reproduced with very flat contrast - the black levels have certainly not been optimised so they all appear very soft. This is a shame and it would be great if this could be remedied for a second edition (not difficult to do).

Secondly a minor quibble - although generally this publisher has great covers for most of their books this one is not very attractive and certainly doesn't do the book justice.

Apart from the above, if you have any interest in this subject I would thoroughly recommend this book.
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