At home, we like to feel safe. Like many citizens, you may even have invested in that video doorbell to control who rings your door – especially while watching Netflix! But some places in Britain have released even greater lengths to reinforce buildings’ security and prevent all kinds of safety threats.
Although you won’t be able to visit some of them unless you work there, at least you can see these places from outside, like the MI6 building during your journey in London. To go a bit further here are some of the most secure buildings in the UK that are equipped with highly protected security systems when it comes to entering.
Palace of Westminster
If we had to start with one place, we’d go to London straight away and mention the Palace of Westminster. The home to British democracy is protected by a dedicated army of police with tough security methods: visitors get searched, have to get their belongings checked and show proof of identity. Houses of Parliament hold scan searches which can take up to 45 minutes to get through.
The SIS Building
Since its opening in 1994, the Secret Intelligence Services (SIS) Building, or MI6 Building is the headquarters of the British Secret Intelligence Service. Located on the Embankment section of the River Thames next to Vauxhall Bridge, the building is one of London’s most unusual designs. Because what’s happening inside is secret, its security is increased with compartmentalized areas that you can’t enter without security scans or escorts. Also, mobile phones or any electronic devices are strictly prohibited inside and instead must be locked in a dedicated area at the entrances.
Jewel House at the Tower of London
The Jewel House is a vault where the British Crown Jewels are kept safe. It is located in the Waterloo Block at the Tower of London and was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994. In the collection, there are crowns, sceptres and other precious jewels from different England’s kings and queens. The jewels are protected by proof glass and the Tower Guard and Yeoman Warders maintain continual protection through a separate control centre. It’s aimed to be so safe that £4.5 million were invested in fire safety and security!
Bank of England gold vault
The Bank of England is the second-largest custodian of gold in the world, after the New York Federal Reserve. More than 4,600 tons of gold are protected in the Bank of England gold vault, around 400,000 bars of gold worth more than £200 billion. The vault walls are bombproof and its security system is so complex that it requires voice recognition, 3-foot keys, and other security measures that aren’t even published.
Bold Lane Car Park
Believe it or not, this car park is one of the most secure buildings in the UK – in Derbyshire. Why is it so secure? Due to the high crime rate in the area, the car park is equipped with high-tech security equipment so each driver gets a unique barcode ticket synchronised with their driving space. Not to mention the other systems: a movement sensor under each car that can go off if moved without permission and 190 surveillance cameras.
Data company HavenCo was founded in 2000 in Rough Towers, a World War II defensive facility. The firm used to be located in the North Sea off the coast of Britain where the only people allowed were authorized personnel, investors, and members of Britain’s royal family. It was shut down in 2008 with “no clear explanation as to why and what data was stored here”.
The 1960s Bar
The 1960s Bar within the Burlington bunker under RAF Corsham in Wiltshire, England, used to be the most protected pub due to its location 30 metres underground. Built during the Cold War in the 50s, Burlington is a 186,000-square-metre base which was decommissioned in the late 1980s. Today it is still maintained to be used as a refuge by the government in the event of a nuclear attack – or to hide.
Who knew the incredible stories behind these safe places? There are certainly plenty of bizarre things to discover in Britain!
If you’re curious enough to take a look at these threat-proof facilities yourself, add them to your bucket list next time you’re wandering in London, or watch them from the comfort of your car if you’re taking one of our London private tours.