The facility is located inside the M25 and has the capacity to store 2,000 tonnes of gold. And while further details about the vault are scarce, it is said to be one of the largest in Europe and is presently used to store bars of gold, silver, platinum and palladium.
Its security precautions reportedly include: a front door that can withstand “a direct hit from a rocket-propelled grenade”; an electrified roof; and plinths that have been sunk to keep out anyone ambitious enough to try to tunnel in.
In 2012, when the Sunday Times was granted a tour of the site, the paper reported: “The fingerprint identification system detects blood supply – severed digits won’t open the doors. Anti-ramming bollards can stop a lorry travelling at 55mph.”
Barclays opened the facility in 2012 to serve both corporate and individual clients of its investment bank, after a 12-year bull run in gold prices pushed the metal to record highs the previous year.
The minimum deposit is thought to be one bar, which in the case of gold weighs 400 troy ounces (12.4kg), worth around $500,000.
As well as the Bank of England vault on Threadneedle Street, there are thought to be six commercial vaults across London, with one rumoured to be below JPMorgan’s offices on Victoria Embankment.
It was reported in January that ICBC was acquiring Deutsche bank’s lease on another London gold and silver vault. However, the Chinese bank said the deal did not go through.
The acquisition of the Barclays site is expected to be completed in July.
This article was written by Simon Goodley, for theguardian.com on Monday 16th May 2016 14.26 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010