Tuesday, October 03, 2017

London Open House: inside Customs House

One of the Thames Sailing Barges I posted on early can be seen above in front of the Customs House.

This grand building was built in 1825 to handle the collection of customs duty for the shipping of the Port of London. It was open in September as part of London's Open House weekend.

I went in expecting a historic building, which it was indeed, but what I didn't realise was it is still a working office of HM Government's Customs and Excise. So the grand Long Hall was being used as a large open plan office:

One of the top tips of visiting a Government office for Open House is that the people directing you around usually work in that building and if you get chatting you'll hear really interesting stories of their work.

So one such Customs & Exercise worker told his story of catching people exporting weapons illegally to Iran while another investigated tax evasion of the very rich. There was something about it that made me exclaim things like "we have never traded with Iran!!!" and "I just do what my accountant advises!!!".

Elsewhere, there were sniffer dogs demonstrations and displays of things caught during airport searches - all very interesting.

Apparently they are about to move out to much less glamorous offices in Croydon so this might the last time to see the Customs House actually doing Customs and Exercise work.

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