A U.K. attraction unlike any other may be coming to fruition.
On Tuesday, plans for a $268 million transformation of London’s mile-long Kingsway Exchange Tunnels were unveiled. The expansive underground quarters were built in the 1940s to shelter locals from the Blitz bombing campaign during World War II. That was also the last time they were open to the public, well over 73 years ago.
London-based architectural firm Wilkinson-Eyre has proposed a sweeping series of renovations in a project called The London Tunnels, which would radically repurpose an area once used by British spies during wartime. The country’s top-secret Special Operations Executive, an offshoot of MI6, reportedly took up the post there, eventually becoming the inspiration behind James Bond’s ‘Q Branch’. During the Cold War, it even hosted the “hotline,” or the internal communications exchange that directly connected leaders of the United States with the USSR, according to CNN.
British Telecom acquired the site in the 1980s, and while it was in residence there it installed the world’s deepest licensed bar that was solely accessible to government staff. The technology behind the telephone center was eventually phased out, so the site was decommissioned. If plans for the tunnel’s next phase are approved later this fall, though, the space will likely come roaring back to life.
“The history of the tunnels, their scale, and the location between London’s Holburn and the historic Square Mile, could make these tunnels one of London’s most popular tourist destinations,” says Angus Murray, CEO of The London Tunnels, in a statement. If he gets the green light, Murry and his team will first invest $170 million in restoration work and another $97 million for lavish embellishments that would modernize it for today’s history buff.
Founded in 1983 by Chris Wilkinson, Wilkinson-Eyre is an architectural firm with a host of exemplary projects under its belt, ranging from Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay to the lavish One Barangaroo high rise in Sydney, Australia. While new renderings of the Kingsway Exchange Tunnels show an updated underground bar and a real-life Q Branch site, there’s no telling what else the London-based firm may have in store for its potential 2027 opening.