How Did a Sewer Worker Get Inside the Gold Vault of the Bank of England?

With all the complex underground systems in England it isn’t a surprise to find secret passages that would lead to various places around the city. 

In 1836 a sewer worker accidentally discovered an old drain that ran under the Bank of England’s gold vault. He requested a meeting with the upper management of the bank, and popped out of the floor to greet them on the hour they specified.

With today’s technology and advance security systems, this incident would probably not happen again.

The History Behind the Location

The Bank of England was originally located in Walbrook Street by the site of a Roman temple back in 1964. They moved to the Thread Needle Street location by the 1730s. After another 50 years, they began construction on the Soane building and acquired the neighboring property for expansion.

The expansion was not an easy project, several protestors were not keen on losing their beloved landmarks. It came to a point where the protestors by the church next door started firing missiles into the bank from the church’s tower. To alleviate tension between the two parties, the bank purchased the property and promised to preserve the graves. This later on became the Garden Court.

By 1798, the Garden Court was used as a graveyard again. The man who was buried there was a teller who worked for the Bank of England for most of his life. His name was William Jenkins. The bank agreed to make the secure garden court his final resting place for fear that grave snatchers might dig his grave and use his corpse as some sort of museum attraction. Why? Simple, Jenkins stood at 6 feet and 7 inches tall and was then quite a spectacle back then. When the bank was completely rebuilt, the coffins in the graveyard were dug up and moved to Nunhead Cemetery near Peckham in South London. (Source: Bank of England)

Secret Tunnels and Passageways

When the bank’s building had been finished, upper management of the Bank of England began receiving anonymous letters claiming to have access to their gold vaults. These vaults, in particular have been redone and made a few years back and are said to be the most secure since they sit upon a bedrock clay. In fact, the space was also used as a bomb shelter. Needless to say, the management did not entertain the letters and ignored them.

They were finally persuaded to meet with the sender when he asked to meet them at the hour of their choosing. They set the meeting after hours, and to their surprise, a man popped out from the floor boards. The sewer worker did not steal anything, to reward his honesty, the bank gave him 800 pounds. (Source: Bank of England)

Oddities on the Bank Grounds

The bank is said to be haunted by the Black Nun. She is the sister of a former bank employee who had been sentenced to execution by hanging due to forgery. She never found out about the hanging, and never saw her brother’s remains. She returned daily, dressed in full black until she was paid off to never show herself again. According to reports, she is seen walking around the hallways and vaults in search for her brother (Source: Britain Magazine)

Summary

The Bank of England has a very rich history that dates back to when it was first built. Some of the stories and oddities of the bank are quite entertaining, but finding a sewer worker in the gold vault must be the most interesting one yet.