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A Cold War Period Government Communications Headquarters Despatch Box

Following the 1860‘s design of a ministerial despatch box, the present example is constructed of pine and covered canvas simulating leather and embossed to the centre of the hinged lid with the cypher of Queen Elizabeth II , the number ‘3’ to the forward left corner and each side of the lid. ‘G.C.H.Q.’ on the forward chamfered edge. Fitted with a Gibbons of Wolverhampton lock (internally marked ‘FOREIGN OFFICE’) key plate, and handle to the back to guarantee that the box is locked before being carried.

Following the Second World War, Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park was was renamed the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in June 1946 and relocated briefly to Eastcote and then in 1951 to the outskirts of Cheltenham - its presence there being kept secret until 1976. GCHQ nevertheless maintained a very low profile in the media until 1983 when the trial of Geoffrey Prime, a KGB mole within GCHQ, created considerable media interest.

© The Armoury of St James's 17 Piccadilly Arcade London SW1Y 6NH