Our speaker before lunch was Brian Aldred. Brian’s talk was entitled “Underground London – Part 1” one of a series that he has compiled.
Brian covered the post of Chief Engineer – Communications at London Underground for a number of years. During this time whilst overseeing many communication projects he became aware of just how much infrastructure, tunnels and engineering projects are hidden under your feet and under London.
He used this knowledge to piece together and compile a presentation talk with nine chapters about many of these engineering undertakings from the Victorians up to present day projects. His talk took us on a 45 minute tour of a selection of these projects with many facts and figures of the size, scale and costs with many photographs to illustrate these hidden elements. All information is however in the public domain and not privileged in any way. The subjects covered included London Lost Rivers, London Sewers History, London Power Tunnels, Secure Telephone Exchanges, Subterranean Basements, Thames Water Ring Main, the Thames Tideway Tunnel Project and the Mail Train now part of the Postal Museum which was visited recently by some of our members. In 1980 the investigative journalist Duncan Campbell managed to get into the BT deep level cable tunnels below London which were supposed to have been classified as secret.
He described his adventure in a New Statesman article. He found a (closed) entrance to Q-Whitehall below Trafalgar Square.
Brian illustrated his talk with three short videos, one of which showed manhole covers exploding in a London pavement, another how they have rewired London major electrical supplies without digging up the roads again.
His talk was initially presented to his own Probus club (Probus Club of the Sussex Weald) in Crawley where he has just relinquished the role of President and he now shares these talks with other audiences through the Surrey/Sussex Probus Speakers Forum directory.
Brian has donated his speaker’s fee entirely to St Catherine’s Hospice in Crawley where they are embarking on a project to build a hospice for end of life care / respite care which is ten times the size of the current facility. This hospice is a very worthwhile cause which will be available, when completed, to serve a larger geographic area.
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