Bank of England offers free virtual tour including its gold vault
The Bank of England has launched a phone and tablet App, featuring a virtual tour of its famous Threadneedle Street building including its gold vaults.
Posted: Friday , 12 Jul 2013
Following the tour of its gold vaults by Queen Elizabeth II late last year, the Bank of England is now offering free virtual access to anyone with an IoS or Android phone or tablet with the launch of a Virtual Tour app that gives users a fascinating insight into the institution that shapes the UK’s economic and financial landscape.
Available to download free of charge via the Apple Store and Google Play marketplace, the App takes visitors on a virtual tour of the central bank’s historic building, with 360° panoramic views and featuring key points of interest.
A highlight of the Virtual Tour is a rare view of the Bank’s gold vaults – one of the largest in the world – that houses over 400,000 bars of the precious metal. The tour also visits the Cash Vault where the Bank holds a portion of its vast stock of banknotes, and users can learn about the security features on each of the Bank’s notes via the ‘Know Your Banknotes’ feature.
It may be recalled that last year there was much publicity over a visit to the gold vaults by the UK monarch, Queen Elizabeth II at a time when the pro-gold section of the media was questioning the veracity of Central Bank gold holdings – particularly following the news that it would take seven years to repatriate 200 tonnes of gold from the U.S. back to Germany. The Queen’s visit was seen as a publicity stunt to show that at least there was gold in the Bank of England’s vaults although obviously there was no audit of quantity, actual ownership or quality, without which the gold bugs will probably never be satisfied. One suspects the new Bank of England App will be viewed in the same light.
App users can also explore the Garden Court – an oasis at the heart of the building – which is planted with mulberry trees, the material that was used to make the first paper money issued in 10th century China; and can learn the gruesome tale of the “Bank Giant” – a 2-metre tall former clerk whose body was buried in the garden in 1798 to protect it from grave-snatchers.
The Bank of England’s monetary policy and financial stability roles are also illustrated in the tour, with a visit to the room where the Monetary Policy Committee meets to set interest rates every month. There is also a view of the Dealing Room, where the Bank interacts with the financial markets to implement monetary policy.
Most of the building in London’s Threadneedle Street is, of course, a working space devoted to monetary and financial stability. But it is a recognisable landmark to many people, and the Bank says that the App provides a unique glimpse of some of the Bank’s more significant locations behind its familiar facade. No doubt the cynics will attribute other motives to the virtual tour and deride it as a not very convincing publicity stunt.
Publicity stunt or no, anything which unveils even a tiny amount of the secrecy behind the inner workings of the Bank is a welcome step in the right direction, but could still be seen as a measure to obfuscate and ward off more detailed investigation.
For those interested, the Virtual Tour app is available via the following web link: