Thursday, June 25, 2009

South Bank Subterranean Stories

This message popped up on the Folklore Society's Talking Folklore email list yesterday from Martin Goodson:

Just to report sitting on the number 36 bus yesterday from Peckham to Victoria in London. Three students got on outside the art college at Camberwell. We approached the big beige battleship known as the MI5 building at Vauxhall when one of the students piped up

"You know that in case of emergency I've heard that it (MI5 building) [actually MI6], can sink down and go under the river."

General hilarity broke out from the other students

"No, it's true, it can. I've also heard it can turn black so that it cannot be attacked at night."

Level of hilarity increases, but the student persevered in her conviction that this building is now equipped with quite SFX qualities to protect itself in case of attack.

Martin asked if anyone else has heard this rumour.

A response came from another list member who referred everyone to this video on the Daily Telegraph site which describes, firstly, the building as 'Legoland', fitting into an earlier Transpontine thread, and also mentions, 24 seconds in, of a secret tunnel that supposedly runs from MI6 to Vauxhall tube.

Has anyone heard more?


IanVisits said...

As one of my hobbies is studying the subterranean world, I run into a heck of a lot of unsubstantiated rumours.

I hadn't heard about the sinking building before though :)

What is difficult is dealing with people who are convinced that "X" exists, even when not only is there no evidence for it, but often the geology or technical contraints make it physically impossible.

No matter how much you debate the issue, it is evidently impossible to prove a negative, so the rumours persist despite the improbability of their existence.

I have heard various rumours about tunnels to/from the MI6 building and the only one I would suggest could be correct - although I have no evidence that it exists - is a small dedicated telecoms tunnel running over towards Whitehall.

A good example of how service tunnels become "escape tunnels" is the old WW2 tunnel under Whitehall, which is quite large, but built for services. However, I regularly find myself dissuading someone that it is a secret tube line for escaping governments/royalty in case of revolution etc.

I think people prefer to hope that such things exist, as it hints that our governments aren't quite as incompetent as they seem.

Anonymous said...

My apologies for an error in the original post the building at Vauxhall is in fact MI6 not MI5, before I'm accused of deliberate disinformation!


Martin Goodson

Scott Wood said...

I think Napolean nail this one Martin, though I think you should substitute 'typos' for the harsher 'incompetence'.

Never ascribe to conspiracy that which is adequately explained by incompetence