James Bond tunnels?

Saw this on the BBC news site earlier

Which novel mentioned the tunnels exactly?

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Sorry, beats me. I thought I knew Casino Royale by heart. Don’t remember any mention of Holborn/Kingsway tunnels.

Thanks for confirming, the only time I can remember tunnels in London being mentioned was in the novelisation of D.A.D, when Bond meets M and Q at the fictional disused vauxhall cross tube station.

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The article says “featured in the first James Bond novel” so I fired up Casino Royale on my Kindle app and did searches for the words “Kingsway,” “Holborn,” and “tunnel” and it came up with nothing…


I wonder if that could be Dr. No? Mixing up novel and film perhaps? But I also don’t remember any mention of London tunnels in that one. Haven’t the foggiest what exactly they mean…

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This article mentions it too!

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As does this one

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This article states it is in the Casino royale novel!

The Kingsway Tunnels run 40 metres under High Holborn, below Chancery Lane Tube station. They cover about 7,000 square metres and were used to shelter Londoners during the Blitz in WWII, before being utilised as a telecommunications centre for the Special Operations Executive (SOE). 007 creator Ian Fleming referenced these very same tunnels in his first Bond book “Casino Royale” in 1953 – as Fleming was a liaison officer to the SOE at the time.

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Only thing I can think of is it’s maybe mentioned in the original manuscript but was cut from the published text. Otherwise I wouldn’t know.

Mind you, for the longest time Fleming didn’t mention SIS/MI6. To the best of my knowledge he never mentioned SOE, Enigma/Bletchley Park/GC&CS for very practical reasons*: he was bound by the Official Secrets Act to keep his trap shut.

Therefore it seems likely Fleming might have had second thoughts - or have received a tap on the shoulder - about mentioning a probably top secret installation less than ten years after the war. An installation that possibly was kept secret until the 70s or even later.

*Likewise did many other spy writers who were in some way or form involved in wartime intelligence. They came up with euphemisms and nicknames like ‘Bureau’ ‘Department’ ‘Circus’ and the like. And some of the wartime spies and commandos were extremely cross with Fleming, the bureaucrat, for cashing in on their experiences - while they themselves weren’t allowed to talk about it.


There are tunnels in Higsons Young Bond, Double or Die, IIRC.


I looked further into it and found “the tunnels are referenced by Ian Fleming in his first James Bond book Casino Royale as the location of M’s Q Branch laboratories.”

I did another Kindle search for words like “quartermaster” and “branch” and still come up with nothing.

I’m stubborn enough to re-read the damn book until I settle this :slight_smile:


I just re-read the M scenes in CR (there aren’t many) and while he does tell Bond to see Q about any equipment he needs there is no mention of a location…


I’m so sorry if I have sent you on a wild goose chase!

I wish journalists would get their facts straight before publishing articles!

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Did the same. The way I remember Q branch in Fleming’s first books they seem to be more of a travel documents/cover provider than the trick department we’ve come to expect after From Russia, with Love’s attaché case. At any rate I never pictured their location anywhere else than in the HQ basement itself.

Really can’t think of any London tunnels in Fleming’s œuvre.

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The official government website for this project mentions the Bond connection, so journalists are not in the wrong by reporting it.


In that case it’s likely this is what happened. :man_shrugging:t3:

You had a good point though, Dustin, when you mentioned the Official Secrets Act. If this was covered under that how could Fleming have mentioned it!?

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Fleming stays somewhat opaque with his fantasy Secret Service and its machinations - but most of his work is heavily influenced by the war. One might say Bond’s adventures are a fantasy continuation of that time. Hugo Drax’ fond memories of wartime exploits and adventures were certainly shared by Fleming.

Those in-the-know would probably have raised an eyebrow about the contents. But since Fleming avoided outright disclosure he wasn’t charged. Graham Greene spilled some beans in Our Man in Havanna and there was some stink about it afterwards in 1958. I would assume Fleming let someone inside the apparatus proofread his stuff. Or perhaps he simply thought better of it and cut sensitive parts himself.

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Owing to the fact that I had planned on re-reading all the Fleming’s this summer, I just finished Casino Royale and can report that there is zero mention of any tunnels… :man_shrugging: