West Norwood. Dollis Hill. Bromely. Not much to see there, you might think. But adventurer Rob Bell’s new documentary digs up some intriguing secrets about these and other unpromising London locales….
In 1957, £5 was offered to anyone who could spend the night in Chislehurst Caves, site of ancient druidic sacrifice. Only eight people managed it.
The Victorian catacombs below the cemetery were intended for the wealthy, containing 1,300 coffins with unique designs, each one lined with lead and an inner layer of elm to keep it watertight and confine such diseases as TB and smallpox inside. Were they to be opened, said diseases might still be infectious.
The now-disused Aldwych station – originally an adjunct to the Piccadilly line – was used to house priceless artworks including the Elgin Marbles during the Blitz.
Churchill’s other Secret War Rooms were in north-west London. And once the blast doors were shut, Churchill and co would have had to relieve themselves using a fire bucket. Winston wasn’t a fan, calling them ‘a most dismal place’.
‘Secrets and Mysteries: London’ airs on Thursday October 2, 9pm, Travel Channel (Freeview 42, Freesat 150, Sky 249, Virgin 288)
For more secrets take a look at London’s secret bars and nights out.
By Gabriel Tate