Brunel’s Tunnel

Posted in design, events by solle on 22/09/2009

This weekend saw the launch of the Geek Atlas, a book by John Graham-Cumming at the Brunel Museum which also marked the occasion by opening up the grand entrance hall to the Thames Tunnel.

An impressive place and with a title like ‘the birth of the tube’ (worldwide) and modern tunnelling methods etc associated with it – it certainly felt like an important place to stand for a moment and reflect on a Saturday afternoon.

Thames Tunnel Grand Entrance Hall

To quote The Geek Atlas (in a nutshell):

“In 1843, the first tunnel passing under a body of water opened beneath the Thames River, between Rotherhithe and Wapping in London. The tunnel was built by Marc Isambard Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It opened as a pedestrian tunnel featuring underground shops and entertainment, but within 30 years it had been purchased by a railway company and to this day is used to run trains.”

Thames Tunnel Grand Entrance Hall

Here’s a (v brief) calendar of the more interesting events (to know more stroll along the river and visit yourself – the book is only a fiver):

1825: Brick tower is sunk below the ground (Marc Brunel innovates the concept of building above ground and then sinking the construction) and boring begins

1827: Early example of public relations – a celebration banquet is held in the tunnel and they sing Rule Britannia and See the Conquering Hero Comes while the uniformed Coldstream Guards deafen everyone.

1828: Illness, death and then tunnel bricked up due to end of funding.

1834: Funding secured

1835: Tunnelling restarts

1838: Fifth major flood

1841: Tunnel reaches Wapping

1843: Thames Tunnel opened to pedestrian traffic and shops

1852: (financiers looking for more return on their buck) first fancy fair opens

1865: Tunnel handed over to East London Railway

1869: First passenger train travels through the tunnel

Thames Tunnel Entrance Hall


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: