A Sewer Worker Prevented the Bank of England from Losing Tons of Gold in 1836

by Deepti S9 months ago
Picture A Sewer Worker Prevented the Bank of England from Losing Tons of Gold in 1836

The Bank of England, renowned for its profound historical significance, carefully safeguards large amounts of gold within its well-defended vaults. But did you know long ago, an architectural flaw could have possibly caused the bank to lose all its gold? Thanks to a heroic sewer worker, the Bank of England was made aware of the defect in 1836 that could have exposed the gold to thieves! How did the sewer worker tell the directors of the bank? Did they buy his words? Let’s take a look at how the sewer worker found gold vault of Bank of England!

Sewer Worker Found Out a Secret Entrance to Bank of England’s Gold Vault

Inside view of Bank of England Gold Vault
Inside view of Bank of England Gold Vault. Image Credit: Bank of England/Flickr.com

The Bank of England was established in 1694 as a private bank to help the government secure funds for a war against France. King William and Queen Mary were among the early shareholders. The bank with such historical significance was once saved by a sewer worker from a potential threat of losing vast amounts of gold and other valuables owing to a security issue.


While working on the sewage, a man found an unsecured stone in the old drains. The sewer worker lifted it up and found a hidden entrance to the gold vault right above him. He did not take anything else from the vault except for a box that he later mailed to the bank so that he could prove his point. In fact, he promptly contacted the bank’s directors, informing them of this security danger, which could result in a massive theft.

The Honest Sewer Worker Wrote an Anonymous Letter to the Bank

Man save the Bank of England from losing gold
Man save the Bank of England from losing gold. Image Credit: Bank of England/Flickr.com

When a sewer worker discovered a serious architectural defect within the bank’s gold vault, he decided to alert the bank officials. He wrote an anonymous letter to the bank directors. Although the letter was not very well-written, he explained to the directors how he visited the gold vault twice in the night without drawing the attention of the authorities.  He invited them to meet him in the grand square room, or the gold vault, to verify the existence of a hidden pathway and asked them to send only one or two men.


The directors had different responses to the letter. Some doubted its legitimacy, while others took it seriously. They unanimously decided that handing over the letter to investigators for further investigation was the best course of action. The detectives started their investigation and went to keep an eye on the vault for a few nights. Unfortunately, they could not find anything apart from a few strange noises they could not account for.

Since the investigation into the sewer worker’s claims yielded no significant findings, the directors were about to drop the case. Just then, they received another letter in a large chest, this time from the sewer worker’s wife.

The letter read that the man wanted to give the directors another chance to prove his claims. She wanted them to know that her husband was honest, and he just took the box from the bank’s vault to prove how easy it was for him to steal anything from the vault. Furthermore, the letter asked a few gentlemen, i.e., bank officials, to go to the room alone to ensure the door was secured and all security measures were in place. The worker would meet the officers there at midnight to show them what he had discovered about the secret path to the gold vault.


The Revelations Made by the Sewer Worker Left the Bank Directors Shocked!

A closer view of gold reserves.
A closer view of gold reserves. Image Credit: Bank of England/Flickr.com

After receiving the well-articulated letter, the bank directors grew concerned and followed the instructions she had mentioned. Three bank officials entered the gold vault. Still skeptical about the security flaw, one of them angrily started calling names like “ghost” and “midnight thief” so that whoever was present in the vault would appear before them.


After a while, assuming that everything was alright, the sewer man decided to show up in front of the bank officials. They were confident that the vault was very secure, and his arrival out of nowhere shocked them. He said that during a sewage repair work, he found an old drain that ran immediately under the vault. All he had to do was lift a loose stone to gain access to the vault. He even claimed to have overheard conversations between bank officials.

The bank was spared from losing an immense amount of gold owing to the integrity of the sewer worker. In recognition of his honesty, the bank owners ultimately awarded the man with £800, a considerable sum of money in that era, equivalent to over $32,000 today.


How Much Gold Does the Bank of England Have?

Bank of England
Bank of England. Image Credit: Bank of England/Flickr.com

As per the Bank of England’s official website, approximately 400,000 gold bars are stored in the vaults. As of October 15, 2020, the bars were worth more than £200 billion or $248.52 billion. The gold is kept in nine underground vaults, which are well-guarded. Each gold bar is highly valuable, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds, and its value varies.

By securely retaining the gold, the Bank of England supports central banks in managing their reserves, thereby supporting international financial stability. London is a key global trading center for gold, and the Bank of England plays an essential role in providing central banks with access to the London gold market.

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Picture A Sewer Worker Prevented the Bank of England from Losing Tons of Gold in 1836
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