The Ultra-Secret “Buckingham Palace Tunnel”

Unsubstantiated rumours have long claimed the existence of an escape tunnel under Buckingham Palace in London.(Image: Diliff. Rumours of a Buckingham Palace tunnel persist despite lack of evidence)

Rumours of top secret tunnels are common to all cities across the United Kingdom, not just London, but tales of one or more escape tunnels from Buckingham Palace are among the most enduring – and unsubstantiated. Some claim the Buckingham Palace tunnels run under Green Park to the Piccadilly Tube line or the nearby Victoria Line, and were supposedly intended to allow royals to escape to Heathrow in times of crisis. Another version says a tunnel runs to Wellington Barracks across the road.

There is, however, no evidence for such tunnels beyond hearsay and, as IanVisits rightly asks, “if you needed to escape from Buckingham Palace in a hurry, would you take a slow train to Heathrow, or take a helicopter to a designated military airfield?” Like Fictional Cities, IanVisits goes on to mention another secret tunnel, Q-Whitehall, which actually does exist.

The Buckingham Palace tunnels: real or rumour?(Image: J Woods)

But where, assuming the tales are indeed completely unfounded, did the rumours of escape tunnels under Buckingham Palace spring from? Well, who knows…  But such tales are hardly unique across the UK.

Some have suggested that such rumours are a modern retelling of centuries-old urban legends concerning secret passages and buried treasure. But even without such fantastical elements as hidden riches, rumoured escape tunnels have endured in the oral tradition for hundreds of years.

The Buckingham Palace escape tunnels are a popular urban legend.(Image: Diliff)

Tales of tunnels linking medieval castles to nearby manor houses and passageways carved through sold rock to help monks escape persecution during the Reformation seem to have given way to Cold War nuclear bunkers not yet revealed, escape tunnels connecting royals and VIPs to transport hubs, and any other hidden subterranean that may or may not have any basis in fact.

Tales of tunnels and secret passages are fun (we’re huge fans of them at Urban Ghosts!), at times compelling. And there’s no doubt that some do exist, and others may well be revealed in the future. But the Buckingham Palace tunnels will most likely remain firmly in the annals of urban legend.

Read Next: Ride London’s Historic Post Office Railway (Mail Rail)

The post The Ultra-Secret “Buckingham Palace Tunnel” appeared first on Urban Ghosts Media.

The Ultra-Secret “Buckingham Palace Tunnel”

Unsubstantiated rumours have long claimed the existence of an escape tunnel under Buckingham Palace in London.(Image: Diliff. Rumours of a Buckingham Palace tunnel persist despite lack of evidence)

Rumours of top secret tunnels are common to all cities across the United Kingdom, not just London, but tales of one or more escape tunnels from Buckingham Palace are among the most enduring – and unsubstantiated. Some claim the Buckingham Palace tunnels run under Green Park to the Piccadilly Tube line or the nearby Victoria Line, and were supposedly intended to allow royals to escape to Heathrow in times of crisis. Another version says a tunnel runs to Wellington Barracks across the road.

There is, however, no evidence for such tunnels beyond hearsay and, as IanVisits rightly asks, “if you needed to escape from Buckingham Palace in a hurry, would you take a slow train to Heathrow, or take a helicopter to a designated military airfield?” Like Fictional Cities, IanVisits goes on to mention another secret tunnel, Q-Whitehall, which actually does exist.

The Buckingham Palace tunnels: real or rumour?(Image: J Woods)

But where, assuming the tales are indeed completely unfounded, did the rumours of escape tunnels under Buckingham Palace spring from? Well, who knows…  But such tales are hardly unique across the UK.

Some have suggested that such rumours are a modern retelling of centuries-old urban legends concerning secret passages and buried treasure. But even without such fantastical elements as hidden riches, rumoured escape tunnels have endured in the oral tradition for hundreds of years.

The Buckingham Palace escape tunnels are a popular urban legend.(Image: Diliff)

Tales of tunnels linking medieval castles to nearby manor houses and passageways carved through sold rock to help monks escape persecution during the Reformation seem to have given way to Cold War nuclear bunkers not yet revealed, escape tunnels connecting royals and VIPs to transport hubs, and any other hidden subterranean that may or may not have any basis in fact.

Tales of tunnels and secret passages are fun (we’re huge fans of them at Urban Ghosts!), at times compelling. And there’s no doubt that some do exist, and others may well be revealed in the future. But the Buckingham Palace tunnels will most likely remain firmly in the annals of urban legend.

Read Next: Ride London’s Historic Post Office Railway (Mail Rail)

The post The Ultra-Secret “Buckingham Palace Tunnel” appeared first on Urban Ghosts Media.

Tornado ZA412: Special ‘Dam Busters’ Tail Fin Preserved at RAF Scampton

Special 617 Squadron 'Dam Busters' tail fin from Tornado ZA412(Image: @PlaneDailyMag. Special 617 Squadron ‘Dam Busters’ tail fin from Tornado ZA412)

Back in 2013, Panavia Tornado GR4 ZA412 (fleet number 017) was a staple of the airshow circuit, suitably adorned with special tail fin art to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Operation Chastise, the famous ‘Dam Busters’ raid of May 1943, carried out by the modified Lancaster bombers of No. 617 Squadron. Two years later, in July 2015, ZA412 made her final flight to RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire for RTP (reduced to produce), a process by which all useful spare parts are salvaged before the redundant hulk is scrapped. And as a visit to the inaugural Scampton Airshow this month revealed, one salvaged item was the special 70th anniversary Dam Busters tail fin, which is now displayed in the RAF Scampton Heritage Centre with other 617 Squadron memorabilia.

Panavia Tornado GR4 ZA412 poised for takeoff at the Royal International Air Tattoo 2013(Image: MilborneOne. ZA412 poised for takeoff at RIAT 2013)

ZA412 first flew as a Tornado GR1 in March 1983 and was delivered into Royal Air Force service two months later. In April 2001 the aircraft was entered into the Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) programme at BAE Warton in Lancashire and returned to service as a Tornado GR4 in November of that year.

ZA412's special tail fin commemorating the 70th anniversary of Operation Chastise, the famous Dam Busters raid.(Image: @PlaneDailyMag)

Tornado ZA412 was a twin-stick trainer version of the highly successful Panavia strike jet and, despite being fully combat capable, would not be used on ops. For that reason she was one of two 617 Squadron airframes (the other was ZA492) chosen for application of the commemorative tail fin artwork, marking the 70th anniversary of Operation Chastise.

Special tail fin from 617 Squadron Tornado GR4(T) ZA412(Image: @PlaneDailyMag)

Over the summer of 2013, ZA412 became one of the most photographed Tornados in the RAF fleet. After service with 617 she was transferred to No. XV (Reserve) Squadron, the Tornado Operational Conversion Unit, at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland, before being withdrawn from service on July 2, 2015.

Following the RTP process her mortal remains would have looked something like this (or this), but it was great to find that superb tail fin displayed in a Scampton hangar, the same airfield where the Lancasters of No. 617 Squadron flew from on that daring operation decades earlier.

(Image: @PlaneDailyMag)

ZA492, meanwhile, met her fate two months before 412, having been flown to Leeming in May 2015 to be reduced to produce. What became of her tail fin is unknown, though hopefully it too will have survived the shredder.

Panavia Tornado GR4(T) ZA412(Image: @PlaneDailyMag. It’s all in the fine print!)

At least one other special fin to survive belonged to ZA461. Scrapped in 2015, her tail fin was pictured earlier this year on return to Lossiemouth to mark the disbandment of XV Squadron after the last Tornado GR4 course had successfully graduated. The last remaining jets are set to be withdrawn from service in early 2019.

The post Tornado ZA412: Special ‘Dam Busters’ Tail Fin Preserved at RAF Scampton appeared first on Urban Ghosts Media.

Tornado ZA412: Special ‘Dam Busters’ Tail Fin Preserved at RAF Scampton

Special 617 Squadron 'Dam Busters' tail fin from Tornado ZA412(Image: @PlaneDailyMag. Special 617 Squadron ‘Dam Busters’ tail fin from Tornado ZA412)

Back in 2013, Panavia Tornado GR4 ZA412 (fleet number 017) was a staple of the airshow circuit, suitably adorned with special tail fin art to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Operation Chastise, the famous ‘Dam Busters’ raid of May 1943, carried out by the modified Lancaster bombers of No. 617 Squadron. Two years later, in July 2015, ZA412 made her final flight to RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire for RTP (reduced to produce), a process by which all useful spare parts are salvaged before the redundant hulk is scrapped. And as a visit to the inaugural Scampton Airshow this month revealed, one salvaged item was the special 70th anniversary Dam Busters tail fin, which is now displayed in the RAF Scampton Heritage Centre with other 617 Squadron memorabilia.

Panavia Tornado GR4 ZA412 poised for takeoff at the Royal International Air Tattoo 2013(Image: MilborneOne. ZA412 poised for takeoff at RIAT 2013)

ZA412 first flew as a Tornado GR1 in March 1983 and was delivered into Royal Air Force service two months later. In April 2001 the aircraft was entered into the Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) programme at BAE Warton in Lancashire and returned to service as a Tornado GR4 in November of that year.

ZA412's special tail fin commemorating the 70th anniversary of Operation Chastise, the famous Dam Busters raid.(Image: @PlaneDailyMag)

Tornado ZA412 was a twin-stick trainer version of the highly successful Panavia strike jet and, despite being fully combat capable, would not be used on ops. For that reason she was one of two 617 Squadron airframes (the other was ZA492) chosen for application of the commemorative tail fin artwork, marking the 70th anniversary of Operation Chastise.

Special tail fin from 617 Squadron Tornado GR4(T) ZA412(Image: @PlaneDailyMag)

Over the summer of 2013, ZA412 became one of the most photographed Tornados in the RAF fleet. After service with 617 she was transferred to No. XV (Reserve) Squadron, the Tornado Operational Conversion Unit, at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland, before being withdrawn from service on July 2, 2015.

Following the RTP process her mortal remains would have looked something like this (or this), but it was great to find that superb tail fin displayed in a Scampton hangar, the same airfield where the Lancasters of No. 617 Squadron flew from on that daring operation decades earlier.

(Image: @PlaneDailyMag)

ZA492, meanwhile, met her fate two months before 412, having been flown to Leeming in May 2015 to be reduced to produce. What became of her tail fin is unknown, though hopefully it too will have survived the shredder.

Panavia Tornado GR4(T) ZA412(Image: @PlaneDailyMag. It’s all in the fine print!)

At least one other special fin to survive belonged to ZA461. Scrapped in 2015, her tail fin was pictured earlier this year on return to Lossiemouth to mark the disbandment of XV Squadron after the last Tornado GR4 course had successfully graduated. The last remaining jets are set to be withdrawn from service in early 2019.

The post Tornado ZA412: Special ‘Dam Busters’ Tail Fin Preserved at RAF Scampton appeared first on Urban Ghosts Media.

United States Capitol Subway System: A Brief History

A United States Capitol subway system car beneath the Russell Senate Office Building(Image: US Congress. United States Capitol subway system car beneath the Russell Senate Office Building)

The Washington Metro rapid transit system, which serves the Washington, DC metropolitan area in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, began operating just over four decades ago, in 1976. But beneath the streets of Capitol Hill lies another underground railway, decades older, which has its roots in the early years of the 20th century.

Studebaker Electric cars in the US Capitol subway system in 1909(Image: US Congress. A Studebaker Electric in the original 1909 tunnel)

The United States Capitol subway system was first built in 1909 to link the US Capitol to the Russell Senate Office Building. Initially Studebaker Electric motorcars were used to ferry passengers from one station to the other. These were replaced by an early monorail, complete with wicker coach, in 1912 (below).

(Image: Library of Congress. A monorail system is installed in 1912)

We’re all familiar with tales of shadowy underground railway lines shuttling public officials and VIPs between sensitive government buildings. But this small network is no secret within the Beltway.

The original US Capitol monorail system in use around 1912(Image: Library of Congress. The original monorail system in 1912)

Comprised of three lines and six stations, the Capitol subway is usually off-limits to the general public, though it has featured on official tours of the Capitol Complex. Over the decades it’s gradually expanded, and essentially incorporates three subterranean people mover lines into a broader rapid transit system.

(Image: Library of Congress)

The first major upgrade to the original system came around 1960 (see below), when a monorail was installed to transport members of congress and staffers to the Dirksen Senate Office Building. This was followed five years later by a two-car subway from the Capitol to the Rayburn House Office Building.

(Image: US Congress. The system is first upgraded around 1960)

The Dirksen line was then extended to reach the Hart Senate Office Building in 1982. And by the early 1990s, the original operator-controlled monorail had been upgraded to an automatic train.

Senator Joe Lieberman rides the Capitol subway with his wife Hadassah(Image: Shirley Li/Medill DC. Senator Joe Lieberman and wife Hadassah on the Capitol subway)

The United States Capitol subway is made up of three separate systems. The House side operates an older, more traditional twin track train system, where manually controlled open-top cars ferry passengers between the Rayburn Building and the Capitol.

(Image: US Congress. An engineer carries out maintenance on the Senate subway system)

On the Senate side, a similar installation to the Rayburn subway is used to ferry officials and staffers from the Capitol to the Russell Building. Another separate – and more modern – system shuttles passengers connects to the Capitol to the Dirksen and Hart Senate buildings. The latter uses three automatic trains, made up of three cars each.

(Image: US Congress. Repairing a Capitol subway car)

Both the Capitol and Hart stations feature side platforms on the Senate side, while Dirksen station has both a side and an island platform for Capitol and Hart-bound trains respectively. A junction at Hart station also leads to a maintenance spur allowing engineers employed by its operator, the Architect of the Capitol, to service rollingstock.

Diagram of the Capitol basement showing the House and Senate stations of the US Capitol subway(Image: US Congress)

Both Senate lines terminate in the same spot beneath the Capitol. The House line, however, is located beneath the far side of the building, and is connected to the Senate lines by an intricate network of basement-level tunnels. The diagram above shows the location of each Capitol subway station.

(Image: Dave Williams)

Public access to the United States Capitol subway system has been available during official tours though restrictions have been in place since the terrorist atrocities of September 11, 2001. But our fiends at Untapped Cities took a tour of the network back in 2016.

Riding the Senate subway(Image: brownpau. Riding the Senate subway)

Michelle Young writes: “The exclusive transit system is not exactly open to the public unless you’re a member of Congress or a staffer on Capitol Hill. It’s also one of the world’s shortest – the portion between the Senate to the Russell Senate Office Building is about 1000 feet and takes less than a minute. Riding US Capitol Subway system is mundane operating procedure for Capitol Hill employees, but a fascinating find for the lay people.”

(Image: Greg Palmer)

Offering a first hand insight of time spent working in the US Capitol (and presumably travelling on its subway), Greg Palmer (who took the above photo) wrote on Flickr: “Before I turned in my Congressional ID and left DC, I gave myself one last tour of the Capitol. It’s beautiful on a daily basis, but after the tourists leave and it empties at the end of each day, it gains a certain spookiness to it. I tried to capture a bit of the eerie silence engulfing the empty halls of the US Capitol.”

Check out the video above to see the US Capitol subway in action.

More from Washington, DC: FDR’s White House Swimming Pool Hides Beneath Press Briefing Room

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Strand Underpass: From Disused Tram Subway to Modern Vehicle Tunnel

Inside the Strand Underpass in central London(Image: Sixthland. Inside the Strand Underpass today)

Take a trip through the Strand Underpass in central London and you’ll find a vehicle tunnel like any other. But this tunnel, which connects Waterloo Bridge to Kingsway, near Holborn, is notable for being housed within part of the abandoned Kingsway Tramway Subway, which has featured before on this blog and has been largely deserted since the late 1950s.

The road dives into London's Strand Underpass, once an Edwardian tram tunnel.(Image: Nevilley)

The original Kingsway tram subway allowed for streetcars to pass in both directions due to their relatively narrow width. But at just 17 feet wide (and under 13 feet high), the Stand Underpass usually serves only northbound vehicle traffic.

Fortunately an ‘electronic eye’ is in place to warn drivers of taller vehicles, who are then directed to an “escape route” to the left of the entrance before the road plunges into the Edwardian tunnel.

(Image: Nigel Cox)

The Strand Underpass was built by London-based John Mowlem & Co and opened on January 21, 1964, some seven years after the original Kingsway Tramway Subway had closed. The road sits inside a concrete shell at the original track level, and passes through the original Aldwych tram station site on the north side.

Abandoned tram tracks on approach to the disused Kingsway Tramway Subway(Image: Tony Hisgett. Diving into the disused Kingsway Tramway Subway)

Though nothing now exists of the Aldwych tram station (not to be confused with the more famous London Tube ghost station of the same name), the eerie platforms of Holborn tram station endure within an untouched stretch of the original Kingsway subway, before its forgotten tracks emerge into the daylight of Southampton Row.

Read Next: 8 Abandoned Tram Tunnels and Trolley Graveyards

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Lea Road School, Gainsborough: A Disused Local Landmark

Closed: Gainsborough's historic Lea Road School(Image: Google Street View. Gainsborough’s former Lea Road School)

Gainsborough’s historic Lea Road School hit the news in 2013 when English Heritage spoke out on the condition of the empty Edwardian structure. The local landmark, which was built in 1906 as an infants and junior school, was converted into a business centre back in the early 1990s before eventually closing down for good. When the article appeared in the Gainsborough Standard, Lea Road School had already been empty for a number of years, amid concern from residents and the local authorities over its condition.

English Heritage told The Standard at that time that the former school was owned by Lincolnshire County Council and suggested “that they should secure the building and make temporary repairs to the roof to stop it deteriorating further while options for re-use of the building are explored.”

Lea Road School, a landmark of Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, while in use as a business centre(Image: Richard Croft. Lea Road School in use as a business centre)

A council spokesperson, meanwhile, told the newspaper that “unfortunately, the building is in a conservation area, and we’ve not been allowed to demolish it.” Earlier this month, the grand former infants school, which fronts directly onto the main A156 road, was still firmly shuttered.

(Image: Dave Bevis)

Writing on Facebook, the Gainsborough Heritage Association said: “Gainsborough’s Lea Road School (latterly called “South County School”) was opened as Lea Road Council Scool in 1906 for the last 30 years or so till its closure in 1993 it was purely an infants school. Previous to that it was mixed infants and senior Girls, the Boys going to Benjamin Adlard.

(Image: Mat Fascione. The disused Lea Road School seen from the River Trent)

“After closure, the building was rented out as office space, but that use has fairly recently ended with the opening of a modern business centre elsewhere in the town. Between Marshalls and our current home in the Old Post Office we had an office here which stored a lot of our archives.”

Related: 9 Creepy Abandoned Schools and Universities

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California’s Abandoned Saline Valley Aerial Tramway

(Image: LCGS Russ. The Saline Valley aerial tramway aka salt tram)

Amid the searing heat of Death Valley National Park in the rain shadow of the mighty Sierra Nevada, the arid expanse of California’s Saline Valley makes for an awesome sight as it reaches across the northern Mojave Desert.

In 1911 an aerial tramway was built here to ferry salt across 14 miles of barren wilderness, from the Saline Valley over the Inyo Mountains to a terminus in the Owens Valley, northeast of Keeler. The stark ruins of the abandoned electric mineral tram can still be seen today.

(Image: Frank E. Moore)

The Saline Valley aerial tramway operated for just 23 years, first running in 1913 and closing down permanently in 1936, during the Great Depression, due to its high operating costs. Almost four decades later the dormant system had earned its place on the National Register of Historic Places as the steepest ropeway ever built in the USA.

From its starting point at 1,100 feet, on the floor of the Saline Valley, the electric aerial tramway rose to an elevation of 8,500 feet as it traversed the Inyo Mountains, before dropping to 3,600 feet at its terminus near Keeler, a small community of California’s Inyo County.

(Image: G. Thomas)

But sadly its historic appeal and desolate location haven’t kept the vandals at bay. In recent years especially the disused electric aerial tramway has seen extensive damage. But in spite of this, its rugged timber uprights offer a haunting glimpse into the history of one of America’s most barren and inhospitable regions.

Read Next: 10 Forgotten Plateways & Wagonways of Britain

The post California’s Abandoned Saline Valley Aerial Tramway appeared first on Urban Ghosts Media.

California’s Abandoned Saline Valley Aerial Tramway

(Image: LCGS Russ. The Saline Valley aerial tramway aka salt tram)

Amid the searing heat of Death Valley National Park in the rain shadow of the mighty Sierra Nevada, the arid expanse of California’s Saline Valley makes for an awesome sight as it reaches across the northern Mojave Desert.

In 1911 an aerial tramway was built here to ferry salt across 14 miles of barren wilderness, from the Saline Valley over the Inyo Mountains to a terminus in the Owens Valley, northeast of Keeler. The stark ruins of the abandoned electric mineral tram can still be seen today.

(Image: Frank E. Moore)

The Saline Valley aerial tramway operated for just 23 years, first running in 1913 and closing down permanently in 1936, during the Great Depression, due to its high operating costs. Almost four decades later the dormant system had earned its place on the National Register of Historic Places as the steepest ropeway ever built in the USA.

From its starting point at 1,100 feet, on the floor of the Saline Valley, the electric aerial tramway rose to an elevation of 8,500 feet as it traversed the Inyo Mountains, before dropping to 3,600 feet at its terminus near Keeler, a small community of California’s Inyo County.

(Image: G. Thomas)

But sadly its historic appeal and desolate location haven’t kept the vandals at bay. In recent years especially the disused electric aerial tramway has seen extensive damage. But in spite of this, its rugged timber uprights offer a haunting glimpse into the history of one of America’s most barren and inhospitable regions.

Read Next: 10 Forgotten Plateways & Wagonways of Britain

Retired Saab Combat Jets Mounted by E4 Road, Sweden

Retired Saab Draken and Viggen jets by E4 road, Sweden (Image: Alan Wilson. Retired Saab Draken and Viggen jets by E4 road, Sweden)

It’s amazing how much history lies alongside the roads and highways of the world. This pair of decommissioned fighter jets from the Cold War period are sure to turn some heads, and passing motorists with a weakness for all things aviation may wish to pull over and take a closer look. The warplanes – a Saab J 35F1 Draken (right) and the larger Saab 37 Viggen – are both former Swedish Air Force machines that entered service in the 1950s and ’60s respectively.

The retired Swedish combat jets, serial numbers 35477 and 37367, are located about five miles east of Linkoping City Airport on the main E4 road. According to photographer Alan Wilson: “The tail codes obviously follow the model numbers, however the Draken carries F3 unit markings and the Viggen carries F16 markings.”

(Image: Albert Jankowski)

Read Next: MiG Monuments: Former Soviet States Commend a Cold War Icon