Early Years Tour

Join The Early Years tour from THE INTELLIGENCE TRAIL and immerse yourself in the shadowy world of British espionage and counter-espionage over two World Wars and in between.

Amid increased paranoia concerning German agents running amok in Britain, the Secret Service Bureau was established in 1909, with a domestic and a foreign section – the forerunners of today’s MI5 and MI6.  

With major conflict between Britain and Germany occurring twice within a few decades of each other, and the Bolshevik threat in Russia, both Services had a busy time!
On the Early Years tour you’ll learn more about how these organisations grew and operated during the first few decades of their existence.

Starting across from the Old Admiralty Building (OAB) on The Mall, who better to ‘start’ the tour than James Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming. Working in the OAB during World War Two, you’ll learn about his activities and achievements during the intelligence and covert campaign against the Nazis.

THE-INTELLIGENCE-TRAIL-EARLY-YEARS-LONDON-SPY-TOUR-WHITEHALL-PLACEWalking into the salubrious environs of St. James’s however, things take a more treacherous turn as the Cambridge Spy Ring are introduced, in particular the ‘Fourth Man’: former army and MI5 officer, and later Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, Anthony Blunt. You’ll see not only one of his wartime work locations but also his after-hours club where he met his fellow infamous Ring members.

Blunt’s story concludes on the way into Whitehall as you’ll understand his post-war activities and the stunning revelations from the United States that led to his subsequent confession. But the consequences over the following decades are anything but straightforward!

THE-INTELLIGENCE-TRAIL-EARLY-YEARS-LONDON-SPY-TOUR-OLD-QUEEN-ANNE'S-GATEOn the back streets of Whitehall, you’ll get an appreciation for Britain’s guerrilla warfare preparations for a possible Nazi invasion, as well as the efforts to help Allied aircrew shot down in occupied Europe. Then there’s the not unimportant aspect of the first decade of MI6 to consider, as you stand outside their former headquarters in their formative years. You’ll not only learn about their charismatic first Chief, Mansfield Smith-Cumming, and the challenges he faced but also the traditions and nuances that are still held so dearly within the organisation more than one hundred years later. And you mustn’t forget the couple of iconic James Bond movie locations of late as a little bonus.

More treachery is exposed, ‘courtesy’ of the Cambridge Spy Ring members working at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, before being briefed on the phenomenal success of the Second World War’s ‘Double Cross’ system.

THE-INTELLIGENCE-TRAIL-EARLY-YEARS-LONDON-SPY-TOUR-ST-ERMIN'S-HOTELThe persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany leading up to WWII is addressed, with particular reference to the MI6 officer labelled ‘Britain’s Schindler’: Major Frank Foley. Both his humanitarian exploits and his espionage successes are detailed and will leave you with opportunities aplenty in which to consider the achievements of such an outstanding individual – and the rarity of such operatives in the intelligence world.

Heading into Westminster, the last few locations allow for more discussion and revelations concerning Cambridge Spy Ring members Guy Burgess and Kim Philby, before the tour finishes at the ‘spy hotel of spy hotels’, the St. Ermin’s Hotel. Be amazed and bemused at the secretive people and organisations associated with the hotel over the decades, and particularly during WWII.

Duration: approx. 3 hours on foot
Rendezvous Point (RVP): Royal Marines Memorial, The Mall
(a Google map showing exact rendezvous point location will be emailed to you prior to the tour)
Nearest station (start): Charing Cross (Overground, and Underground – Northern, Bakerloo lines)
Nearest station (end): St. James’s Park (Underground – District line).

The route includes two sets of upward steps and one set of downward steps.

Private tour slots (for up to 30 people) are priced according to booking period.

(£ UK Pounds Sterling)
Solo/Couple 1-2 people
(£ UK Pounds Sterling)
3-30 people
6 or more weeks£295.00£325.00
3 to 5 weeks£395.00£425.00
1 to 2 weeks£495.00£525.00
6 or less days£595.00£625.00


Important: As only private groups are run, please note that it is not possible to ‘join’ another group as this would mean the group ceasing to be exclusively for the original client.

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That’s unsuprising given the other tours also on offer! Check out the Classic, Cold War, Sexpionage, Mayfair & Mother Russia, and Westminster & Water alternatives.

Chosen by members of the international intelligence, security, military and diplomatic communities.