Subterranean London

I’ve always been fascinated (in a true geeky style) by war shelters and abandoned constructions underground.
Rome is, obviously, full of catacombs everywhere beneath the city and it’s very easy to find natural tuff caves just outside the city limits, since the entire area of Lazio is very “rich” of tuff, but entering the caves can be dangerous since these are quite deep and usually full of toxic exhales.
The building I lived in for 6 years in Testaccio with my family (built at the same time and by the same architect who made Roma Termini Train Station) used to have air raid shelters in the basement, used today as storage. The basement entrance to a tunnel passing under the main street, connecting the shelters to a bigger underground area under the Aventino is today bricked, and I was never able to get in and explore that fascinating and abandoned underground area.

Here in London, using the tube as my only mean of transport (yet) it’s kind of fascinating to walk into the endless tunnels of the various underground stations. (Yes, fascinating: but I’d still rather prefer to have a car or motorbike here…)
Due to pretty logical archeological “features” (it’s basically impossible to dig tunnels under the urban area without discovering ancient villas or other elements of relevant interest) of Italy, the underground system, called Metro, in Rome is pretty basic compared to the London tube, and consists in only two lines, with a third one in construction.

I was aware that the London Underground stations have been used as air raid shelters during war time, but due to my infinite ignorance I wasn’t aware of the function of a strange white circular building, near my house, that I pass by every morning on my daily walk to my office in Camden Town going down Haverstock Hill Road.

It’s actually one of the two entrances of the Belsize Park Deep Level Air Raid Shelter, one of the eight Shelters built during the WWII in London.
Part of the shelter is today used as document storage, part is abandoned, but it still sports a working lift powered through a fully functional 1941 Mercury Arc Rectifier (at least it was still working and glowing in 2001)!
The shelters were designed to have two separate power supplies: one from the London Passenger Transport power line and one from the local authorities. There was a switch room in every shelter in order to choose the power source and the rectifiers were used to, well, “rectify” A.C. power sources.

A few more searches led me to a bunch of interesting links about the shelters and some abandoned tunnels and tube stations beneath London.
It’s basically impossible to visit these locations today. Maybe just with an organized tour with the Subterranea Britannica, if any.

So, a bunch of geeky underground links, informations, history and Silent Hill like photos:
Deep Level Shelters in London (8 of them)

Belsize Park Station Deep Level Shelter: Link One | Link Two

Subterranea Britannica

Euston Station Abandoned Tunnels
(The posters on the wall are amazing)

London Abandoned Tube Stations

BBC article on disused tube stations

28 Days Later Forums (amazing)

Good Night and Good Luck.