Thursday, 29 January 2015


It's 1943.
The latest and most innovative technology is being used by the British and the Americans
to communicate with each other via transatlantic radio-telephone
during the Second World War.
For security, a 40 ton scrambling machine, Sigsaly, has been installed
in the basement in Selfridges department store, Oxford Street, London.
A private extension is being installed at the Cabinet War Rooms,
for the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill's, private use.
A direct line to President Roosevelt.
Secrecy is of the utmost importance.

Where to put that extension?
For the Prime Minister's ears only.

The Transatlantic Telephone Room disguised as a toilet.

To keep this telephone top secret, a toilet lock was put on the door.
Surely Churchill's staff would never guess that when 'engaged',
behind that door Churchill was not spending a penny
but talking to the president of the United States of America.

No point waiting for the 'vacant' sign to appear, they were told.
This toilet was especially reserved for the Prime Minister, for his sole use.
It was to be kept locked at all times.
It was 'said' to be the only flushing toilet in Churchill's secret underground war rooms.
However, there was no running water in the underground Cabinet War Rooms.

Everyone else, his wife, Chiefs of Staff and office staff
had to make do with one of these,
the Elsan Chemical Lavatory.
Or they could go upstairs to the ground floor of the building above.

However arrangements were made in case you were caught short in the night.

Clementine Churchill's bedroom.
more 'toilette' than toilet.
Perhaps a chamber pot was deemed too unseemly
for the bedroom of the wife of the Prime Minister.

Churchill doesn't seem to care though.
Nonchalantly on show at the end of his bed in his study bedroom.

The Cabinet War Rooms, now Churchill War Rooms
have been open to the public since 1984
and reassuringly do have public toilets with running water and a flush.

Details on the Churchill War Rooms website, here.


  1. I love the topics you choose for your posts! I've learnt something new today, and am even more determined to visit the Churchill War Rooms.

    1. It's an amazing place. If you go with kids, I recommend the kids audio guides, even for the grown ups. They're free with your entrance ticket.

  2. A great post - of course! But what was so funny to me was the engaged sign for the loo door. This is the second time that I have seen this today in a blog post! The exact same engaged sign. I don't know if you know Mike's Blog, A But About Britain, but he wrote about the same things as you in his last post - that is where I saw the sign. You would really enjoy his blog I think! Anyway, just wanted to say that it made me smile to see it again! xx

    1. Thanks so much Amy for pointing this out. I have just checked out Mike's blog & followed it, my kind of blog. Perhaps we've both been inspired to write about Churchill, with it being the 50 year anniversary of his death. x

  3. Now, that IS a coincidence...loved your post, and your take on the Cabinet (or Churchill's) War Rooms. I'm sure we can inspire one another. Have a great weekend.

    1. Thanks. Probably prompted by Churchills's anniversary. I'll be getting ideas from your blog for days out. Nice to meet you.

  4. My now 22 y.o. daughter loved the audio guide for kids - she was 10 when we went. Stonehenge had them too, much appreciated.

  5. Well, after all those pints of champagne ... But I thought he never spent a night there? Maybe I'm wrong, it's ages since I visited.


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