Thursday, 17 January 2008

I Spy With My Little Eye...

...something beginning with G.C.H.Q.

This photo is taken from Crickley Hill looking towards the West side of Cheltenham. The big round building, to the right of the middle of the picture, is the Government Communications Headquarters (click on the picture for a larger image). GCHQ carry out intelligence and security work answering to the Foreign Office and working in tandem with MI5 and MI6. The building is known by Cheltonians as 'The Doughnut', as its round and has a hole in the middle! And that hole is large enough to fit the Royal Albert Hall inside.
GCHQ came to Cheltenham in 1952 and occupied two sites, the one shown at Benhall, and one at Oakley, on the other side of town. Many local people say that there was an underground tunnel that linked these two sites, but as GCHQ's work is secret we'll never know. In 1999 it was decided by the government to merge the two sites into one and Benhall was chosen for the new building. The doughnut cost about £330 million with the actual cost, including a 30 year service contract, being £1.2 billion. At the time of construction it was the largest single development in Europe, taking 3 years to complete, with the 6,000 strong workforce moving in September 2003 and completing the move by the summer of 2004.

On the security fence that surrounds the perimeter of GCHQ it clearly says 'No Photography', so this could be as close as you get to photograph the building without being taken in as a threat to national security!


Pat said...

Marley, that's so interesting! But what in the world is all the green stuff?

Pat {in snowy Guelph}

Guelph Daily Photo, Pat's Photo-a-Day

Ineke said...

Great story about the doughnut

Lori said...

You always give us such interesting information! This is a beautiful photo too. I spotted the doughnut building. Their work sounds very mysterious.

Pat said...

You have received the Make My Day Bloggers Award! Check it out at my blog, Guelph Daily Photo.

Unknown said...

Lucky you weren't carted away, Marley. Very interesting background i didn't know.

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