• View of London

  • Cutty Sark in Greenwich

 

London is one of the world’s most famous cities, welcoming millions of visitors each year who flock to well-known landmarks from Buckingham Palace to Big Ben. City Cruises experiences offer a fantastic way to see the capital’s iconic sights from an alternative perspective, but have you ever thought about the sites that are hidden beneath the ground? There are lots of fascinating places to visit, and we’re not just talking about the tube network!
Take a look at the attractions below and unearth the secrets of London.

Churchill War Rooms, Whitehall

After the devastation of the First World War, military planners began looking at ways to evacuate the Prime Minister underground in case of a future threat to security. On 27 August 1939, a week before Britain declared war on Germany, the Cabinet War Rooms became fully operational. They comprised a complex of basement offices in Whitehall occupied by leading government ministers and military strategists as well as Prime Minister Winston Churchill himself. The offices were adapted to provide meeting places for the War Cabinet during air raids and also housed a military information centre. Here, vital information for King George VI, Prime Minister Churchill and the armed forces was collected. Churchill’s War Cabinet met here 115 times, mostly during the Blitz and then for the German V-weapon offensive. In 1984, the Imperial War Museum opened the rooms to the public for the first time and they can be visited today.


Billingsgate Roman House & Baths, Lower Thames Street

Beneath the curious cobbled pathways of the Square Mile lies a rich Roman history surviving 2,000 years of building, fires and bombings. First discovered in 1848, these secret Roman remains were once an impressive house with a courtyard and underfloor heating. The best-preserved part of the ruins is a bath with hypocausts, which were used for heating the room. Visitors can go on a 45-minute guided tour and discover the remains of this Roman Bathhouse which lies hidden beneath office buildings on Lower Thames Street.


 

The Vaults, Waterloo

The Vaults is now a popular venue for an eclectic range of events including music, dining and entertainment, but did you know that it was originally used as coffin storage for the Necropolis Railway?


Clerkenwell House of Detention, Clerkenwell

Clerkenwell House of Detention was a prison built on the site of two former prisons in Clerkenwell, London. It was opened in 1847 and stood on Bowling Green Lane, conveniently close to the Middlesex Sessions House, where prisoners would be tried. Although the House of Detention was demolished in 1890 and converted into a school followed by flats, there are 9,000 square feet of vaults underneath known as the Clerkenwell Catacombs. These were re-opened as air shelters during the Blitz and are occasionally used for art projects and film sets.


Ladies & Gentlemen Undergound Bar, Kentish Town

This hideaway bar in Kentish Town was formally a public toilet! It now delivers classic and quirky drinks to its customers with retro music and characterful service just a short walk from the heart of Camden.

 
Pindar Government Bunker, Ministry of Defence building, Whitehall

Pindar is a secure government bunker complex constructed in the 1990s. It lies beneath the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, deeper than the London Underground's District Line! Today it serves as crisis management and communications centre for government.

 
The Underside of the Cutty Sark, Greenwich

Cutty Sark is the world’s only surviving extreme clipper which was built in 1869 for the China tea trade. It sailed from London on 15 February 1870, bound for Shanghai carrying a general cargo of wine, spirits and beer and manufactured goods. After successfully reaching China on 31 May, the ship returned to London loaded with 1,305,812 lbs of tea, the equivalent of approximately 47 double decker buses! The Cutty Sark then travelled the globe, visiting every major port in the world. It now sits proudly in Greenwich where it has become an award-winning tourist attraction. As well as learning more about the Cutty Sark’s history, visitors can take the ship’s wheel and walk underneath its original copper hull.

 
Bascule Chambers, Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge's Bascule Chambers were built as an operational area to allow for the movement of Tower Bridge's huge counterweights used during Bridge Lifts. This cavernous brick-lined, subterranean space is normally out of bounds for everyday visitors, but on rare occasions, this space is opened up for public use and provides a spectacular venue for artistic events.


Ghost stations, Various locations throughout London

There are 270 functioning stations across Transport for London (TfL)’s network, but at least 40 Overground and Underground stations still in existence are no longer used for travel. Closed for a variety of reasons, from low passenger numbers to re-routing, these stations have had interesting histories. During World War Two, many stations were used as public shelters and underground offices for London Underground and government staff. Stations have also played a part in Britain's cultural life. Aldwych station, for example, was used to house the National Gallery's collection during WWI and British Museum artefacts during WWII. In more recent years, Aldwych has doubled up as a filming location for productions as diverse as The Prodigy's 'Firestarter' music video, and zombie movie, '28 Weeks Later.'


Cellar Door Basement Bar, Covent Garden

This intimate cocktail bar in Covent Garden oozes New York basement vibes mixed with 1930s Berlin. Visitors take the street level stairway down into the bar which used to be a public lavatory and brace themselves for live acts each evening.

 
The Brunel Museum Thames Tunnel, Rotherhithe

The Brunel Museum Thames Tunnel is the oldest tunnel in the oldest underground in the world. Today it carries the London Overground beneath the Thames.


London's Post Office Railway, Between Paddington and Whitechapel

The "Mail Rail" began in 1926 and, at its prime, it would carry four million letters and parcels every day! It finally closed in 2003, but there are still 23 miles of this line under the city, between Paddington and Whitechapel. Visitors can learn more about it and ride through the hidden tunnels of the Mail Rail at The Postal Museum in Clerkenwell.

 
London's Lost Rivers, Various locations throughout London

We all know and love the River Thames, but did you know that dozens of rivers and canals have been buried or rerouted underneath the city?


Kensal Green Catacombs, Kensal Green

Kensal Green cemetery is one of England's oldest and most beautiful burial grounds. It was built in 1832, along with six other cemeteries, to move burials away from the London’s centre. This was partly due to health concerns about overcrowded churchyards, but also to make more land available for the developing capital. Visitors are able to visit the catacombs in the cemetery.


Roman Amphitheatre, Gresham Street

The City of London was under Roman rule for a fifth of its history. Around AD 43, the Romans established Londinium and constructed a wooden amphitheatre, which received a major facelift early in the second century. The remains were discovered during the redevelopment of the Guildhall Art Gallery in 1985.


Nursemaid's Tunnel 'The tunnel under Euston Road' Park Crescent, Marylebone

Nursemaid's Tunnel is a short passage built in 1821 during the laying out of Regent’s Park. It takes pedestrians from a small private park underneath Euston Road, to emerge in Crescent Gardens. To find it, you need to wait for Open Gardens Weekend, which takes place every June, and head to Park Square Gardens (just south of Regent's Park).

 
 

https://www.citycruises.com/whats-under-city/
London
Secret
Capital
Underground
Secrets of London
History