In a strange twist, MI6 visits MI6...

MI6 Visits The Real MI6
9th August 2002

It was only a matter of time before the two MI6's would meet - the unofficial website and the real government department.

One sunny afternoon in August, MI6 ( visited MI6 (London) for a closer look at the department that gave it's name to the world's most visited unofficial James Bond site.

Right: The famous MI6 HQ up close.


MI6 can reveal pictures of the famous building - the likes of which have never been released before. Unfortunately for obvious security reasons, no pictures from within the building itself were possible, although Bond fans can well imagine the interior based on the excellent sets from "The World Is Not Enough".

The term MI6 is no longer in official use, as the department as long been known as SIS (Secret Intelligence Service), although thanks to 007, several films, books and inaccurate news media - the name still lives on.


MI6 originated in 1909 (then known as "Foreign Section of the Secret Service Bureau") and was headed up by Captain Sir Mansfield Cumming. The departments job was to gather intelligence from overseas (whereas MI5 are UK orientated), and was granted it's own identity in 1922 as SIS. Cumming is well remembered for assigning himself the moniker "C" (which inspired Fleming to create "M") and always wrote his memo's in green ink - a tradition which is rumoured to continue with modern-day chiefs.

Left: The pillars and meeting place.

The new MI6 building situated in Vauxhall Cross (London, UK) is the brainchild of architect Terry Farrell and has been in government use since 1995. Costing an impressive £150m at the time of construction, public building plans revealed it to be 5 stories deep.

The department's motto "Semper Occultus" translates to "always secret" and is known as "The Firm" within intelligence circles. Casual observers may be forgiven for thinking only a handful of people work in the building, given the tight security very few are seen coming and going. But the building hosts 2,300 staff - although in the wake of September 11th 2001, government leaks suggest this number could double over the coming years to help counter world terrorism.

Right: The fountains of the north "Thames" face.


The role of the building in the Bond films does not stop after the boat chase in "The World Is Not Enough", as MI6 can reveal an element of "Die Another Day" which utilises the architecture and location in a completely new way. As with tradition, Bond will visit Q to receive his latest gadgets and the new Aston Martin Vanquish - but not in the regular Q-Branch we have come to know.


For 007's 20th adventure, a secret underground station will host Q's personal workshop, and Bond will drive his Vanquish out through a disused tunnel. The real-world Vauxhall Cross tube station is only yards away from the MI6 building, so passengers after November 20th may be forgiven for wondering what really lurks beneath the pavements.

Left: The real Vauxhall Cross tube station is only yards away from MI6 HQ.