Cabbie’s Curios: London’s Secret Runway…

For some time now, there has been considerable debate over whether of not Heathrow Airport should build a third runway.

What many people involved in these discussions don’t realise is that there may already be an extra runway in London ready for use… and it’s right in the city centre!

This is of course all based on hearsay and secrecy, but if the rumours are to be believed, this covert runway lies on the western edge of Kensington Gardens…. a wide, tarmacked path more commonly known as the ‘Broad Walk’; a popular thoroughfare through the park.

The Broad Walk marked in pink (image from A-Z imaging)

The belief that Broad Walk may be a secret runway dates back to the mid-1950s when a large number of trees were uprooted and re-planted 25 yards back, thus making the Broad Walk wider and clearer, without obstruction.

The wide, Broad Walk today

Some say that this overhaul was carried for a specific reason- to enable the Broad Walk to act as an emergency base where, in the event of a national crisis (specifically a Soviet nuclear attack), a small aircraft could land and take off- thus enabling the Queen to be evacuated from the capital.

Although this rumour remains strictly unconfirmed, it certainly fits in with the history of the period. By the 1950s, the world was firmly in the icy grip of the Cold War and governments were quickly having to think up contingency plans to deal with the consequences of the terrifying new atomic weapons.

The era is well portrayed in the following short clip from 1958, which shows how RAF crews were required to get their Vulcan nuclear bombers into the skies within a nail-biting four minutes:

If the Broad Walk had been utilised as a platform to flee London, it would have been just one component of a wider evacuation plan. In the early days of the Cold War, the Royals would have been taken to a bunker in the West Country or possibly transferred to Canada.

Kensington Palace which sits right opposite the Broad Walk

A new course of action drawn up in the late 1960s and known as the ‘Python Plan’ would have seen the Queen taken to Scotland where, on the Royal yacht, Britannia she would have been kept on the move; transferred to a different Scottish loch each night, the Highland mountains providing sound cover from Soviet detection.

The Python Plan continued to be updated right up until the early 1990s…

If you’d like to know more about London’s Cold War connections, I have written two previous articles on the subject which can be found under the following links:

London & the Cold War: The Spying Game

London & the Cold War: Bunker Mentality

The Broad Walk… all ready for take off!

2 responses

  1. Fascinating stuff. It certainly makes sense.

    OK my turn now.. Did you know that KP sits at the apex of a pentagram? In your map of Kensington Gardens you’ll notice two paths converging on the front of KP (although they actually stop at the edges of the round pond, but the lines converge on the front of KP itself). This forms point number one. Trace these paths the other way to get another two points of the pentagram at Malborough Gate and Diana’s memorial. The remaining two points of the pentagram are at each end of the broad walk.

    You could write this off as a coincidence except that many buildings of importance are built to sit at the apex of pentagrams (such as those in Washington DC) .

    Part of this pentagram design can also symbolise a masonic compass and square. (It’s lying on its side in your map). The two angled paths coming from the Round Pond form the masonic compass (with the Round Pond as its hinge). And the two more paths which meet at right angles form the square underneath.

    Check out some more secrets about London’s street layout in this video LINK

    1. Interesting!

      The footpaths in the north-west corner of Regent’s Park also form a pentagram type design if you look on a map… right beside the American ambassadors residence!

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