Going underground – our trip round the Kingsway Tunnels by Sue Langridge


Apprentices have been a big part of telecoms for a very long time – but the job they do now, and their working environments, can be very different than just a few generations ago.

One of the ways we support our apprentice members is by offering them unique experiences, and the chance to visit places and meet people that can enrich their knowledge of the industry.

A great example of that was the visit we organised for apprentices and their managers to the Kingsway Tunnels in London. This really was a very special day for all of us – getting a guided tour of these fascinating and mysterious underground spaces, which not only play a special part in British telecoms history but also have the added glamour of being linked (however tenuously!) with ‘Q’ Branch of James Bond fame!

The now-closed tunnels were built as an air raid shelter in 1940, and their history after their construction is the source of much debate – with both ‘Q’ and MI6 being touted as possible residents!


Later, the tunnels were used as a communications hub for transatlantic cables – with thousands of people going to work every day, hidden beneath London’s busy streets in complete self-sufficiency.

The tunnels have been closed to the public since 1974, but the tour was organised for our group, which included ITP apprentices and apprentices from Virgin Media and BT, along with their managers.

I can honestly say we all had a fantastic time – the history of the tunnels was brought to life for us by Brian Storer, and the apprentices thoroughly enjoyed getting a glimpse of the ‘secret’ London beneath their feet.

One of them, Corbin Turner of Virgin Media, said: “This really was the opportunity of a lifetime. It was great to explore the tunnels and see how people lived and worked there all that time ago, and amazing to imagine what it would have been like back then. It also gave me the chance to chat to BT apprentices and find out about their working life, which was really interesting.”

We’re always looking for new opportunities to support and engage with our apprentices – and one of the ways we do that is with our annual Apprentice of the Year Awards. Check back on Friday for a new blog with all the details about the 2014 awards!

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