Secret vaults which helped keep people safe from Adolf Hitler’s bombs are up for sale for the first time. The labyrinth-like network of strong room vaults look a bit like secret prison cells designed to detain the most wicked criminals or a passageway for smuggling goods to awaiting ships. But the vaults underneath a solicitors’ firm in Hull were actually created for a more mundane purpose.
Hull Live reports that the underground network of rooms and tunnels were built as safe-deposit spaces for the city’s businesses for more than a hundred years.
They were designed by the same company that drew up the ornate safe deposit rooms for Harrods.
Hull was one of Hitler’s prime targets during World War Two, because of its significance as a port city, so the vaults were a vital place of safety for city dwellers as they sheltered from his bombs.
The vaults have always been a popular attraction when the solicitors’ firm that has its offices in the building above has an open day.
But now Burstalls Solicitors is moving out of the Ocean Chambers building in Lowgate, Hull, so the property including the vaults is up for sale at a price of just under £1 million.
The firm’s senior partner David Rosenberg said: “This is a beautiful building, and we are sad to be leaving it.
“We are five floors and everyone has a big office but we just can’t really justify it anymore, we have to be more energy efficient.
When we have our open days, we get hundreds of visitors coming in for a tour of the building, although it does get less interesting higher up.”
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Mr Rosenberg added: “Our old offices are beautiful with some lovely features – I have views out over St Mary’s [Church].
“We have all these wonderful safes underneath the building – there are doors and doors – and people have loved going down there on our open days.
“The safes are massive, they are about 6ft high and very deep; there must be 20 or 30 of them.”
Daily Mirror reports that behind the building’s imposing stone facade are large boardrooms and ornate mosaic floors at the ground floor and basement levels.
The staircase is of fine Edwardian construction and is believed to be one of the reasons the building is Grade II-listed.
But most locals are interested in the building because of the vaults which were built to be flood proof as well as fire and theft-proof, as before Hull’s tidal barrier was built, the area would be regularly flooded by the Humber.
The internal workings of the safe doors were built by the same company that installed the Harrods’ store vaults and the Army and Navy Safes in Rotterdam, as evidenced by plaques inside the vault doors.
Mr Rosenberg said: “We are clearing out the piles of things we know we can put in storage.
“We are all very sad to be leaving but this is a new chapter for Burstalls. Things have changed over the last few years, we just need to adapt with the times.”
Ocean Chambers is for sale for offers in the region of £975,000 or for rent at £85,000 per year.
The estate agent Garness Jones said: “The property is an iconic building within the city centre.
“The building has a great deal of potential with high ceilings and natural light with attractive views overlooking Lowgate.”