Posted on April 5, 2019
The anonymous building opposite St James’s Park Tube station in central London was used by British spooks for 66 years. Despite the covert goings-on within, neighbours said the address’s purpose was an open secret among locals.
GCHQ acknowledged the location after moving out of its home. Director Jeremy Fleming said the site in Palmer Street, used by intelligence officers since 1953, had been part of “a history full of amazing intelligence”. GCHQ, known as Britain’s listening post, was set up on 1 November 1919 as a peacetime “cryptanalytic” unit. During World War Two, staff were moved to Bletchley Park to decrypt German messages including, most famously of all, the Enigma communications. When the service moved its headquarters to Cheltenham from the London suburb of Eastcote in the 1950s, the Ministry of Works provided the Palmer Street building as a centre to handle secret paperwork and a base for its director.