The SECRET ARCHITECTURE of London MI6 - SIS

or

SECRET INTELLIGENCE SERVICE

BUILDINGS IN LONDON

* Whitehall Court

The eccentric Retired Naval Commander Mansfield Smith-Cumming, founder of MI-1C (later to become MI6)
The staircase to his office in Whitehall Court was  behind a secret panel and opened with hidden levers.

He always wrote in green ink, a custom carried on by later Director-Generals.
Reinhard Heydrich, head of Nazi German SS Security and Intelligence (until his assassination in 1942) admired the British Secret Intelligence Service and also wrote in green ink.


"went to the office and remained there all day but saw no one, nor was there anything to do."

Commander Mansfield Smith-Cumming


* BROADWAY BUILDINGS, 54 BROADWAY.

MI6 HQ 1924 to 1966


In 1924 SIS and the code breakers moved in to 54 Broadway and leased the third and fourth floors
[6] p141

St. James's Street. MI6 headquarters until the 1960's when they moved to Century House.
[1]

Stewart Menzies, "C",  took over the chief's suite on the fourth floor.
[6] p224

The fourth was the executive floor.
[6] p320

54 Broadway buildings housed both the pre-war SIS and GC&CS Broadway Buildings, backing onto Queen Anne's Gate.
.
Before the war Broadway Buildings housed GC&CS, the forerunner of GCHQ.
[4] p181

21 Queen Anne's Gate listed as Coderoy George & Co. Chartered Surveyors in 1948 Kelly's Post Office Directory.

21 Queen Anne's Gate HQ of The Passport Control Office and the London residence of "C".
 

* CENTURY HOUSE. Lambeth.

MI6 HQ 1966 until 1995.

Former MI6 headquarters with discreet underground car park at rear. MI6 moved to Vauxhall Cross in 1995. MI6 London station on Vauxhall Bridge Road at the time of the Commander "Buster" Crabb incident in 1956.
[3] p59.

Vauxhall Bridge Rd.....anonymous block which accommodated SIS's London Station and telephone intercept centre....
SWF Nigel West. p179

I looked at this building in 1995. Very dirty and run down. On 15th July1996 I visited to take photos. The building is empty but the car park at the rear may be still in use. Took photos. The site is up for development, the sign says "subject to conditions."

I took many photos during the buildings use by SIS and later when under development.

* VAUXHALL CROSS.

MI6 HQ since 1995.

The new MI6 headquarters. Architect Terry Farrell (Laing Management). Reputed cost £M130. 5 stories deep. Costly materials used in construction, copper piping.
[1]

Babylon - on - Thames

I visited the building on the 15th July 1996. The riverside walk is open and one can see the building very clearly. All very new and sharp. The gates slid open a car came out from the underground car park. Great love of all these sliding shutters and electric gates. Took pictures of  '85' - this quite photogenic building. Known as "Babylon-on-Thames" and "Legoland".

Also known as Legoland

The Secret Intelligence Service, sometimes known as MI6, originated in 1909 as the Foreign Section of the Secret Service Bureau, under RNR Commander, later Captain, Sir Mansfield Cumming, which was responsible for gathering intelligence overseas. By 1922 Cumming's section had become a separate Service with the title SIS. Cumming signed himself 'C'; his successors have done so ever since.

The Special Operations Executive (SOE) was established in 1940, partly from the then Section D of SIS. After the War it was disbanded and some of its members were reabsorbed into SIS.

With the passing of the Intelligence Services Act, SIS was placed on a statutory footing under the Foreign & Commonwealth Secretary to whom it is responsible for all aspects of its work. The Act defines the functions of the Service and the responsibilities of its Chief, as well as establishing control and oversight arrangements. The Service's principal role is the production of secret intelligence in support of Her Majesty's Government's security, defence, foreign and economic policies within the framework of requirements laid upon it by the JIC and approved by Ministers. It meets these JIC requirements for intelligence gathering and other tasks through a variety of sources, human and technical, and by liaison with a wide range of foreign intelligence and security services. Specific operations are subject to long-standing procedures for official and ministerial clearance.

The present Chief of the SIS, who took up his appointment in August 1999, is Richard Dearlove.

All enquiries, including employment opportunities, should be addressed to PO Box 1300, London SE1 1BD.

* 3 CARLTON GARDENS.

MI6 recruiting department office. Recommended candidates are interviewed here.
[1]
 

* PALMER STREET

During the pre-war years a team of thirty seamstresses in a house in Palmer Street opened, without detection, intercepted diplomatic foreign mail. Section "N" of SIS.
[6] p211

Palmer Street (8-9) was for many years GCHQ's chief listening post for radio traffic from London's foreign embassies.
[7] p11

GCHQ premises.
[5] p111

* RYDER STREET.

"...the old office in Ryder Street."
[5] p103.

* Metropole Building.

Defence Intelligence Staff at the MoD.....Metropole Building
SWF. Nigel West. p236


Not in London but important MI5 and Special Branch training facilities.

* Fort Monckton

MI5 and Special Branch handlers are taught "fieldcraft" here. Agent recruiting, agent running, surveillance, photographic techniques.
BBC2 TV programme "True Spies" 3 November 2002

SIS's secret facility outside Gosport in Hampshire.

Secret War for the Falklands. Nigel West. p129-130

Lieutenant-Colonel Terence "Sailor" Kitkat, CBE, DSO, MC.
Born July 16 1908, died November 23 2003 aged 95
In 1954, he joined the special duties branch of the Foreign Office and became the commandant of an establishment near Gosport responsible for training in covert operations.

Obituary, The Times December 18 2003

* Fort Southwick

SIS training facility
Some details of D-Day use in BtCS Rev ed 1983 p 257


* Mount Royal Hotel.

Mount Royal Hotel

April 1961, Penkovsky leads a Soviet trade delegation. MI6 booked a suite of rooms above and debriefed Penkovsky there.
[3]p86
[5]p205

GRU Colonel Oleg Penkovsky supplied MI6 with thousands of pages of documents in 1960/1 photographed with a Minox camera supplied by MI6-CIA.
He was gruesomely executed by Soviets in 1963.
[7] p188-193

My wonderful father, Arthur Smith, worked at Mount Royal from 1933, when it was built, until he retired at the age of 80 in 1981. He was employed as a night shift Maintenance Engineer. During the Second World War years the hotel was a transit hostel for American Army Officers. D-Day briefings were held there and after the war dad used the, once very secret map boards, to make furniture for our flat. The chest of drawers had a map of Normandy on the inside!

Sources.

[1] BBC2 TV "Secret Architecture"  Jonathan Meades-1993
[3] M of T - West
[4] MI5 MI6 - Grant
[5] Spycatcher - Wright
[6] The Secret Servant - Cave Brown
[7] Spy's London - Berkley
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