A majority of London’s gold is reportedly kept in vaults under the Bank of London
A majority of the UK’s gold is kept under London and it is worth £172 billion ($248 billion). Out of the 6,256 tonnes of gold kept under the Capital’s streets, the majority – 5,134 tonnes – is reportedly kept in vaults under the Bank of England on Threadneedle Street.
Gold is a safe haven and it is a measure of investor confidence in other assets. People invest in gold when other forms of investments are volatile. The other investments options are related to economic uncertainties, unpredictable monetary policies and other factors whereas gold is a low risk investment. If the price of gold goes up, it can be concluded that investors are worried over other assets. Gold is a hard universal currency and it is used to exchange funds. It is measured in bars weighing precisely 400 troy ounces, or 12kg, worth around £250,000 ($500,000). Although, Britain does not command as much gold as other countries, it holds one-fifth of the global stock. Tonnes of gold are kept in rows of shelves in the underground storage in the form of bars. These bars are different in shape. Some are shaped like bread, others have slanted edges.
This underground safe is secure and includes electronic as well as analogue security. The vaults are accessed using analogue security which includes 3 feet long keys, which is the same mode of accessing the vaults as was in the 1930s when they were built. Despite the present times of advanced electronic security, security experts consider the analogue system of security to be more secure than the electronic mode of security.
But, electronic mode of security is in place as well. Under the electronic security systems at the concrete safe, voice recognition system is installed. The visitor to the place has to speak out a password in order to gain access to the underground safes. This voice recognition system has a few saved voice samples. Once the password spoken out by the visitor matches that saved in the memory of the electronic device, the visitor is able to gain access to the vaults.
Structure wise, as the vaults are based on soft clay bedrock, the bars are not stored high because the weight would sink them to the ground. That explains the vast size of the concrete space. Apart from that, the vaults have a rich history. Their history goes back to World War II, when they were moved to Canada and one of them was used as a staff canteen and was even used as a bomb shelter at a later.
Sometime back, the bars were put for sale by the Royal Mint in which the bars were sold for different prices depending on the price of gold. They measured 53mm by 118mm by 8mm and were sold at around £24,000 to £25,000.