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London Deep Level Shelters

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Stockwell Deep Level Shelter.

The London deep-level shelters are eight deep-level air-raid shelters that were built under London Underground stations during the second World War.

Each tunnel consists of a pair of parallel tunnels 16 feet 6 inches (5.03 m) in diameter and 1,200 feet long. Each tunnel is subdivided into two decks, and each shelter was designed to hold up to 8,000 people.

It was planned that after the war the shelters would be used as part of new express tube lines paralleling parts of the existing Northern and Central Lines. Each tunnel is of a diameter much larger than that usually used for running tunnels, but smaller than that used for the platform tunnels, hence they were constructed at the stations that would have been bypassed on the high-speed lines. However, 16 ft running tunnels were used for the Northern City Line opened in 1904, since it had been intended to run main-line trains here (a plan not realised until 1976).

Ten shelters were planned, but only eight were completed. These are at:

  • Belsize Park tube station
  • Camden Town tube station
  • Goodge Street tube station
  • Chancery Lane tube station
  • Stockwell tube station
  • Clapham North tube station
  • Clapham Common tube station
  • Clapham South tube station

The two which were not completed were at St. Paul's tube station and Oval tube station. The working shaft for the shelter at Oval now functions as a ventilation shaft for the station.

The shelters were started in 1940 and completed in 1942. They were originally all used by the government, but as bombing intensified five of them were opened to the public in 1944: Stockwell, Clapham North, Camden Town, Belsize Park and Clapham South. The Goodge Street shelter was used by General Eisenhower, and the Chancery Lane shelter was used as a communications centre.

After the war, the Goodge Street shelter continued to be used by the army until the 1950s, and the Chancery Lane shelter was converted into Kingsway telephone exchange, as well as being expanded to serve as a Cold War government shelter.

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