In Video: Safe Locked for 35 Years Cracked

How a Barking power station safe, locked for 35 years was cracked by master locksmiths

On the 05 October 2016, viewers of ITV’s London regional news programme were treated to a live safe cracking demonstration. This entailed the cracking of a safe at Barking Power Station that had been locked for 35 years.

The strongroom was situated in the former power station buildings, dating from 1925. When opened by His Majesty, King George the Fifth, it was the largest structure of its kind. On the 26 October 1981, it was decommissioned, leaving the control room in a state of dereliction. Today, the former buildings will form part of the Barking Riverside development. The 1925 buildings replaced an earlier structure built in 1897.

After seven hours of lock picking and the creation of a new key, their hopes of unlocking the safe without external damage were dashed. In the end, they had to drill into the door and unveiled… another safe. There was also paperwork and a briefcase which last saw the light of day in 1981. This gave an insight into the operation of the power station before computerisation was the norm.

What made this operation challenging was the lack of a key to open the safe in the first place. The bespoke key was also troublesome. On opening the second safe, they were miffed to find it was emptied. Not a bean, not even a 35-year-old sausage or tin of coffee. 320,000 viewers in Greater London were engrossed by their attempts.

The Barking Riverside site was granted planning permission by the Mayor of London in 2007. It is a joint venture with the Greater London Authority and developers London & Quadrant. The construction of a further 10,000 homes were given the go ahead by the present Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

Safe combination lock. Image by Eduard Radu (via Shutterstock).

Could this combination lock have made life easier? Image by Eduard Radu (via Shutterstock).

JR Security Devices, 22 February 2017.

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