London's wartime bunkers to open for tours

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Great Britain 1940's wartime tunnels open for tours
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London's wartime bunkers to open for tours
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: An entrance to Clapham South deep-level shelter seen from street level, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: Grafitti from soldiers and members of the public who took shelter during World War II is seen on the ceiling above bunk beds at Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: An entrance to Clapham South deep-level shelter seen from street level, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: Signs to shelters named after senior British naval officers at the Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: A door lies off its hinges at the Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: Signs to shelters named after senior British naval officers at the Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: Rusty fuse boxes lie in the depths of the Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: Rusty fuse boxes lie in the depths of the Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: A sign pointing to the way out at the Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: Grafitti from soldiers and members of the public who took shelter during World War II is seen on the ceiling above bunk beds at Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: A Transport for London worker walks through the recreation and games room at the Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: Bunk beds at the Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: A Transport for London worker operates the original still functioning lift at the Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: A Transport for London worker walks through the recreation and games room at the Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: A worker for Transport for London walks down a large shelter tunnel at Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: Grafitti from soldiers and members of the public who took shelter during World War II is seen on the ceiling above bunk beds at Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: Grafitti from soldiers and members of the public who took shelter during World War II is seen on the ceiling above bunk beds at Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: A worker for Transport for London makes his way out of the Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: Signs to shelters named after senior British naval officers at the Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: A worker for Transport for London walks down a large shelter tunnel at Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: A view through a door of the bunk beds at the Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: A worker for Transport for London walks between two shelters in the Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: A Transport for London worker walks past some of the bunk beds at the Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: Signs to shelters named after senior British naval officers at the Clapham South deep-level shelter, which will be open for public tours when London Transport Museum releases tickets in March, on January 15, 2016 in London, England. Built during the height of the Blitz in 1941 after the loss of life at several improvised shelters in underground stations, it is 30 meters below ground and each main shelter tunnel is just over 400 meters in length with a total of 16 sub-shelters. After the war it was rebranded as the Festival Hotel in 1951, providing cheap accomodation for overseas visitors to the Festival of Britain, then closed after a fire in 1956 until it was sold to TFL in the late 1990's where it was used for commercial secure archives until recently. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
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Deep beneath the train lines in part of south London lies a labrynth of secret tunnels that were used as air-raid shelters for up to 8,000 people during World War II and will be opened to the public for guided tours, the Transport for London (TfL) said, which runs the city's metro system.

Clapham South Station looks like just another stop on the British capital's sprawling metro network, but 120 feet (36.5 m) below street level lie secret bunkers where people sought shelter from the bombs, TfL said.

"The reason the government was looking at deep level shelters was because of the issues that they were having casualties, civilian casualties during the blitz in the Autumn of 1940 there was some significant casualties. And in January 1941 Bank tube station took a direct hit killing 56 people. This is 30 meters underground, 120 ft down and was deemed to be a much safer environment to help Londoners get through that terrible time," said Justin Brand, Commercial Asset Management Director for TfL.

When people arrived at the station in the early 1940s, they would have shown their ticket to an air-raid warden who would have informed them of their individual bed number, Tfl said.

Much of the original signage still hangs on the walls from the days when the bunkers saved lives.

Brand said during the time the tunnels were used loudspeakers pumped music into the rooms and dancing and singing would go on into the night.

"There was a lot of camaraderie, a lot of dancing, a lot of telling stories, there were a lot of families down here, many children running around. And it was very difficult to sleep, as you can hear the tube train is very close by. This sort of proximity of people meant to keep each other's spirits up there was a lot of dancing and singing," Brand added.

After the war, the bunkers were used as a military and civilian hostel, TfL said. The names of some soldiers and their regiments could be seen written on the walls inside the tunnels.

It was also used as temporary accommodation for immigrants who arrived from Jamaica in 1948, TfL said.

By opening the tunnels up to tours, TfL says it hopes to generate money to improve the city's travel network.

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