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Old April 25th, 2014, 04:05 PM   #1301
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From Islington Gazette:

Quote:
http://www.islingtongazette.co.uk/ne...tion_1_3564453

Transport enthusiast in campaign to re-open Hornsey Road Overground station
April 20, 2014

A transport enthusiast has mounted a campaign to re-open a station on the London Overground that was demolished during the Second World War.

Retired journalist Philip Aris, 70, of Hazellville Road, Archway, is calling for Hornsey Road station on the Gospel Oak to Barking route – also known as the Goblin line – to be reinstated after 70 years out of use.

Although the station – between Upper Holloway and Crouch Hill – was closed and the building demolished in May 1943, the original platforms still stand and Mr Aris’s campaign to get it resurrected has garnered plenty of support.

He said: “Hornsey Rise is changing quite rapidly. There are lots of new houses and new people, not just commercial or industrial property any more.

“There’s a growing demand for transport in the area. The line’s very busy nowadays as it goes to Walthamstow and Leytonstone, which are increasingly fashionable, popular places to live. It seems like a good time to link to all those areas.”

Mr Aris continued: “The Goblin line has been very run down and neglected over the years. There was a campaign to get it electrified, which will now happen by 2017, and it seems like that would present a good opportunity to re-open the station.”

The line is set to be extended east to Barking Riverside after George Osborne pledged to fund the work. He pointed out that the line may also be extended to Old Oak Common, the projected super hub that will link with Crossrail, HS2 and Heathrow airport – meaning that it would be possible to get from Archway to almost anywhere by train, without going through a central London terminus.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “There are no current plans to re-open Hornsey Road station, but we remain open to the possibility of this changing in the future.”
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Old April 27th, 2014, 10:37 AM   #1302
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Construction of new Custom House Crossrail station, taken from here:







Tunnel portal in Victoria Dock:



And from the same blog, photos of refubrished Hampstead Heath Overground station. During refubrishement, the platforms were extended to accomadate 5-car trains and new lifts were installed:





















New station mural:

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Old April 30th, 2014, 06:50 PM   #1303
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From Railway Gazette:

Quote:
http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/t...ure-tests.html

Thameslink EMU undergoes low-temperature tests
30 Apr 2014









UK: The first of the Class 700 Desiro City electric multiple-unit cars being built by Siemens for use on the Thameslink route through London have been tested at the Rail Tec Arsenal climate chamber at Wien in Austria.

The tests focused on the ability to withstand the effects of temperatures between -25°C and 40°C, solar gain, ice, snow and wind. Tests included:
  • simulated coupling scenarios;
  • traction and brake functionality;
  • exterior CCTV camera performance;
  • ensuring doors can open and close in severe snow and ice;
  • testing windscreen heaters work when the cab windscreen is iced up;
  • ensuring the correct performance of windscreen wipers at speeds up to 160 km/h
Siemens reports that manufacturing of the EMUs is ‘well underway and on schedule’, with more than 45 bodyshells completed and the first full 12-car train now at the Wildenrath test track.

‘Extreme weather conditions are just part of an intensive test process for the Class 700’, said Iain Smith, Programme Director, Thameslink, at Siemens Rail Systems UK. ‘Each of the 1 140 carriages will also undergo rigorous testing and fault-free mileage accumulation at Wildenrath to ensure the trains are as close to working ‘out of the box’ as possible and ready for passenger service on the important Thameslink routes.’

The first Class 700 is expected to be introduced on the Bedford – Brighton line in early 2016.
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Old May 3rd, 2014, 10:05 PM   #1304
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The article about Canal Tunnels:

Quote:
http://www.therailengineer.com/2014/...ing-foresight/

Canal Tunnels - Exercising foresight
01 May 2014



In 2004, Great Britain won nine gold medals at the Athens Olympics. In 2005, Tony Blair won a third term as Prime Minister and then there was the World Cup in Germany in 2006 – but we won’t dwell on that.

Whilst the world was focussed on these and many other events the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL), as part of the Thameslink Programme, was quietly digging underground, constructing two bored tunnels between the East Coast main line (ECML) at Belle Isle junction, just north of Kings Cross, and the St Pancras low level station at Canal junction. As the two tunnels pass about 15 metres under the Regents Canal, they are known as the Canal Tunnels.

Each tunnel was constructed with a six metre diameter bore and fitted with a pre-cast concrete lining, and they are both more than 660 metres in length. At the King’s Cross end there is a 100 metre cut-and-cover concrete box which leads up to an open area which, in total, forms a 1km length of new twin track railway.

Thameslink progressing

Since they were built, the tunnels have remained dormant. Elsewhere, the Thameslink project has been progressing steadily – reconstructing Blackfriars Station, building a new viaduct through Borough Market and developing the London Bridge Station and railway layout are just a few of the many schemes that make up this incredibly complex £6 billion project.

However, one of the key benefits that will be realised when the Thameslink project is completed will be the ability to run 24 trains per hour between Blackfriars to St Pancras Low Level which is known as the ‘core area’. This target will include 16 trains coming from the Midland main line route and eight trains from the East Coast main line, hence the need for the Canal Tunnels now to be fitted out and integrated into the operational railway.

In addition, the new Thames link Class 700 rolling stock is due to begin arriving in 2015, and is expected to be used on both the existing Thameslink and Great Northern routes. One of the Thameslink depots will be at Hornsey on the ECML. Therefore, the tunnels will be essential to enable the new trains to utilise the link for stock movements.

Contract awarded

Consequently, in August 2012, an announcement was made by Network Rail naming Carillion as the principal contractor for fitting out the tunnels and connecting them into the main lines. Balfour Beatty Rail would be responsible for the 25kV overhead line electrification (OLE) installation work and Carillion would install the slab track, associated emergency walkways, signalling and telecomsequipment, fire services and pumps and other associated safety equipment throughout the tunnels as well as being the overall site management.

Kevin Sullivan, Network Rail’s project manager responsible for this work, recently showed The Rail Engineer around the site. He explained that the work was progressing very well and that the construction of the slab track work in both the tunnels was now complete. Also, the installation of OLE equipment by Balfour Beatty Rail, using its innovative reduced-depth overhead conductor beam electrification system, was going to plan. Kevin explained that they were now concentrating on connecting the new emerging Up and Down Canal Tunnel lines into the existing mainline routes.

Collaborative working

Carillion appointed ARUP for all the design work. The tunnels are only six metres in diameter, which is a challenging space to fit everything in and the aim was to maintain W6A gauge. In addition, the tunnels will connect two different railway systems together so there is a need to design out any potential interference. For example, it would not go down well if, upon connection, there were track circuit failures on the ECML. As Kevin outlined, there has to be effective collaborative working between all parties and to ensure that this happened. “We have instigated weekly design integration meetings between all disciplines and Network Rail, a process that has proved to be very successful and invaluable,” he explained.

To ensure compliance with noise and vibration commitments, the track was designed using the Sonneville Low Vibration Track (LVT) system supplied by the Swiss manufacturer Vigier. This system is a duo block, slab track system with a rubber boot and concrete block pad. It has been tried and tested on other systems throughout the world but it is the first time that it has been used by Network Rail. The rubber booted blocks are cast into concrete exposing the concrete block pad which is designed to hold in place the rail and the pandrol E clip housings and insulations.

Challenging tolerances

The final positioning of the rails is very precise with only 1 to 2mm tolerance for gauge, rail incline and cant. As Kevin pointed out, this could only be achieved on a dedicated engineering site, as opposed to a track possession. The design life chosen for the concrete surrounding the rubber boots is 50 years and the design life for the sub base concrete is 125 years.

The signalling and telecommunications design is integrated with the Thameslink programme’s High Capacity Infrastructure (HCI), which ensures that the signalling system will deliver the targeted 24 trains per hour capacity in the core area.

A GSM-R radio system is being installed throughout the network to replace the Cab Secure Radio system currently in use. To ensure this will work well inside the tunnels, a ‘radiating cable’ or ‘leaky feeder’ is being installed throughout.

Walking through the tunnels, it is obvious that there is a steep gradient dipping down 1 in 34 toward the centre of the tunnel bores. This encourages any rain or seepage water to gather at this low point. Also, there is a 150mm fire main that runs through both tunnels with regularly spaced hydrants that can be accessed from the constructed walkway. So, if there was a fire and the fire main was utilised, the tunnels could be subject to flooding. Therefore, to cope with such a potential high volume of water, a 60 metre long sump has been installed incorporating fixed pumps that will pump water up the gradient to another intermediate sump which, in turn, has the capacity to pump water up into the existing East Coast main line drainage system.

The fixed walkway provides a continuous platform to enable day-to-day maintenance to take place and to provide a passageway in case of emergencies. A lighting system has been installed throughout the tunnels with lights spaced at every four metres above the walkway.

On the opposite side of the tunnel, there are two GRP troughing routes dedicated to signalling, telecoms and other mechanical and electrical equipment ensuring that everything looks neat and tidy and well ordered.

Continuous working



Work continues around the clock in two 12-hour shifts. Carillion works the day shift installing the slab track and other equipment, then the site changes over to Balfour Beatty Rail activities, using rail mounted access platforms to install the Conductor Beam OLE equipment. Kevin said that this system works very well and that each contractor has tried hard to ensure that its activity does not impede other work that has to take place.

So, the fitting out work in the tunnels appears to be progressing very well and targets are being met. The next challenges for the team were the connection work at each end of the tunnel into the main lines. The junction at Belle Isle is conventional ballasted track whilst, at the St Pancras Low Level station end, the junction is on LVT concrete slab track.

Kevin described the project as being unique in that there is a fascinating and challenging engineering project in the tunnels, a site that they have control of 24 hours a day. However, at the two end connection points of the site, there is a railway so it is necessary to work in possessions, being aware of hazards such as adjacent line working where traffic is running. This introduces a whole set of different risks and challenges.

At Belle Isle Junction, existing structures have had to be demolished and new ones installed. The existing sheet piled wall of the ECML railway has to be removed to make way for the new connection. The junction is situated in a fairly confined location between Copenhagen Tunnel and the Gaswork Tunnels just outside Kings Cross station.

In preparation for the connection of the new junction, a set of switches has had to be moved six metres north to accommodate realignment of the North London Incline. In addition, 140 metres of plain line has had to be renewed and a crossover was repositioned 30 metres north of its original position during an Easter 2014 blockade.

Connecting into the main lines

So, the site is nearly ready to receive the new double junction which will be installed using a Kirov crane to lift track panels that are being constructed alongside the running railway. After the new junction is in place, it will be connected to plain line track that will be laid on a transitional formation of ballast. This will then lead onto a formation of glued ballast, then onto slab track, before running into the Canal tunnels. The completed work will then be ready for commissioning with control located in the Kings Cross Panel.

The Canal Junction end of the site is now all LVT slab track, installed some time ago. It is where the Moorgate lines emerge from the lower station at St Pancras, switches and crossings had to be relocated and aligned and replaced by plain line. Once this work is complete, the junction can be commissioned onto the new Three Bridges Rail Operating Centre (TB ROC) which will then incorporate the whole of the new railway. The target date for the completion of this work is early 2015.

The commissioning of the tunnels is yet another step in this most fascinating project known as Thameslink, and one has to admire the foresight exercised in 2004 which ensured that the two tunnels would be ready and in place. The fitting out work will be completed this year, the Hornsey Depot will be completed in 2015 and the Siemens Thameslink Class 700 trains will begin delivery and then in 2018 services will run through the Thameslink core. Meanwhile, there is plenty to do, both within well-defined engineering sites and alongside the operational railway, which will provide more unique opportunities for the engineering teams involved.
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Old May 6th, 2014, 07:28 PM   #1305
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From Construction Enquirer:

Quote:
http://www.constructionenquirer.com/...ng-out-to-bid/

£300m Waterloo station revamp coming out to bid
6 May 2014

Network Rail Infrastructure plans to start the bid race in June to bring the Waterloo International Terminal back into use for domestic train services

The major scheme forms part of the £300m Wessex Capacity Programme, which will increase train and passenger capacity at London’s busiest station and across the Wessex Route.

As well as bringing the closed Grimshaw-designed international station back into use, platforms 1-4 will also be extended along with extensive alterations to the track, signalling and buildings on the Wessex Route and at Waterloo, Vauxhall, Clapham Junction, Richmond, Wimbledon and Surbiton Stations.

Network Rail aims to set up a risk and reward sharing alliance with contractors to deliver the huge design and build scheme that could also include £100m Woking Grade separation works within its scope.

Interested firms are being invited to attend two supplier engagement events on 30 May ahead of issuing PQQs on the 2 June.

The six-year packages of improvements are expected to get underway from the start of 2015.
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Old May 8th, 2014, 03:23 PM   #1306
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From Global Rail News:

Quote:
http://www.globalrailnews.com/2014/0...ld-oak-common/

Overground station for Old Oak Common
7 MAY, 2014

WSP has been appointed to begin the next stage of planning for a new London Overground station at Old Oak Common.

The consultant is to carry out a Grip 3 study of three options with the hope of establishing the best solution to connect Overground services with the proposaed HS2 and Crossrail interchange.

Architect planners Farrells have been appointed by WSP to provide master planning and architectural support.

Project director Dave Darnell said: “This is a hugely exciting scheme that has the potential to create a major new regional transport hub, taking some of the demand off existing overloaded routes by providing links to HS2 from the west and south west without travelling into central London and offering better access into the area of Old Oak Common for existing and future residents.

“It is technically and environmentally challenging and we will be drawing on our considerable experience in the successful design of stations and railway engineering both here in the UK and abroad and on the masterplanning expertise of our project partners, Farrells.”
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Old May 8th, 2014, 08:55 PM   #1307
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From IanVisits blog:

Quote:
http://www.ianvisits.co.uk/blog/2014...-this-weekend/

Unusual train movement this weekend
MAY 8, 2014

There is a chance to sate your railway geek this weekend as London Overground trains run along a slightly unusual route, and past a long since closed station.

Not really mentioned on the TfL website’s weekend closures page, and only spotted as an odd looking dotted line on a poster at railway station caught my attention, but it seems that you will be able to travel from Stratford towards Camden Town, then rather than carrying on northwards to Kentish Town, you hop south to the tracks running from Euston heading up to Kilburn instead.



This is thanks to the line north of Camden Road being closed for engineering works, and it is presumably easier for TfL to continue the trains along another bit of the network than to turn them around. And fortunately for them, there is a short length of track used by freight trains linking the two Overground lines.

So, for those who glee at traveling along unusual bits of railway track — this Sunday you can hop from one line to the other in a way that would not be possible normally.

Not every train seems to make the additional connection, so check on the TfL website journey planner for a specific timetabled train.



It also means you can go past the since demolished remains of Primrose Hill Station that closed in 1992, and is situated right next to the Roundhouse.

In fact, you might be thinking that this little stretch of track would be quite useful if brought back into use more regularly, and indeed, that is being talked about. That would also see the station restored, which will probably be appreciated by the music fans.

But this Sunday, a few minutes of running passenger trains along normally freight only lines will be appreciated by railway fans
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Old May 9th, 2014, 05:31 PM   #1308
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Options for new route around Old Oak Common. The first option is cheapest - green for Croydon - Milton Keynes Southern services:



Second option is expensive:

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Old May 9th, 2014, 06:25 PM   #1309
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Last week's news:

Quote:
http://www.ealingtoday.co.uk/default...railmay001.htm

'Serious Mistake' to Push On With Ealing Broadway Plans
08 May 2014

Redevelopment musn't be 'quick fix' say concerned group

Plans for the redevelopment of Ealing Broadway Station for Crossrail need to be thoroughly reviewed and shouldn't be rushed through warn a group of local residents.

Members from Save Ealing Centre, as well as representatives of local forums were invited to a meeting with Crossrail and the Deputy Mayor of London for Transport, Isabel Dedring to see latest proposals.

They were shown new designs for the station which they believe are a step in the right direction. However, Nick Woolven, Chair of Save Ealing Centre has written to Ms Dedring outlining further concerns. He said:

'' What we saw last Thursday showed some material improvements to the Station design, and we are especially pleased the station’s setting and its history now appear understood as being important. However, the new designs highlight more clearly than ever many wider questions surrounding the way the station will function as West London’s major transport hub, handling a considerable increase in passenger numbers.''

Mr Woolven's letter, signed by Bartlett Professor of Planning and Regeneration, Sir Peter Hall, film director,Tony Palmer, Robert Gurd from Ealing Civic Society and other local representatives, lists a number of points that they say need to be considered before any work can begin.

Concerns are raised over how the new station will integrate with the surrounding area, queries over the number of passengers using the station and provisions for transfers from Crossrail to other services.

'' Getting the details right needs just a few months of concentrated discussion with all the parties involved before anything is finalised.

''Bennetts must be given a brief which allows them to address the key issues. Their aim must be to create a station that will be fit for generations to come. We are in danger of being committed to a quick fix, which will be disastrous given the level of real consultation that has occurred thus far.''

Mr Woolven concludes: '' In short we think it will be a serious mistake to push on with approving plans for the station before all these questions are resolved. Of course we understand the constraints Crossrail and everyone else is working under in terms both of time and financial resources, but in our view allocating more of both now will prove extremely beneficial in the future. Would any great designer or urban planner have been so constrained? We doubt it.''

A spokesman for Crossrail said: “Over the last few months Crossrail has been working closely with Ealing Council and its architectural advisors to make changes to the initial station design that was submitted last year.

“We absolutely recognise the importance of getting the designs right and are confident the outcome will be a vast improvement on the existing building. We hope to submit the revised proposals to Ealing Council shortly.”

According to the Crossrail timetable, work on the station is due to start October 2015 and expected to last around 14 months.

Transport For London (TfL) want to hear how Crossrail will affect Ealing and are looking to interview people who will be affected by the new Crossrail service
Quote:
http://www.edgware-today.co.uk/News.cfm?id=15290

Funding blow to bid to make Mill Hill Broadway station step-free
Wednesday, 07 May 2014

A CAMPAIGN to create “step-free” access to Mill Hill Broadway has been dealt a blow after the railway station lost out on a share of the government’s £100million disabled access funding.

Campaigners calling for lifts to be installed at the station, to which it is currently difficult or impossible for those in wheelchairs or with disabilities to gain access, have admitted they are “disappointed” over the failure of an application for cash from the Department for Transport’s Access for All fund.

However, the campaigners, supported by Hendon MP Matthew Offord, have vowed to continue the fight for improved access to the station. Mr Offord said: “It is a disappointment. I wouldn’t say a surprise because there are many other people lobbying for different things. But there are other funding schemes and I have spoken to the Chancellor and I am very confident that we will find the funding.”

Chairman of Mill Hill Residents’ Association Richard Logue, who started a petition for improved access that has attracted around 150 signatures, said: “We will just keep highlighting the fact that a lot of people want to gain access to the station and simply can’t use it.

“It is exceptionally difficult for anybody who has any form of disability to access the station.” A spokesman for train company First Capital Connect, which manages the station on behalf of Network Rail, said that adding disabled access would cost millions of pounds and that the Access for All funding, now allocated until 2015, would have been essential.

He said: “To make Mill Hill Broadway step-free would require lifts to at least three levels. It is also a narrow, difficult site with an entrance underneath the A1 that restricts headroom for lift machinery.

“Rail companies can apply for direct funding, but this is for small, low-cost schemes only, such as ramps and low-level ticket office windows for people in wheelchairs.”
Quote:
http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/N...ouncil_leader/

Crossrail should come to Bexley, says council leader Teresa O'Neill
3rd May 2014

Crossrail could be coming to Bexley, if the leader of Bexley Council gets her way.

Councillor Teresa O’Neill has suggested Belvedere as a possible extra stop for the line, which is set to link east with west London at a cost of £15 billion.

The track is currently set to terminate at Abbey Wood, at a £130 million station which is currently being built right on the border with Greenwich.

There have been calls to extend the line to Ebbsfleet given the building of a garden city in the Ebbsfleet Valley is now under way and plans for a major theme park in nearby Swanscombe are in the pipeline.

But Coun O’Neill first wants to see the line branching out into Bexley after it opens in 2017.

She told a full meeting of Bexley Council on April 30: “It won’t be good if it flies through to Ebbsfleet and doesn’t stop in Bexley so that is where we will focus our lobbying.

“If it’s going to stop in Bexley it could stop in Belvedere.”
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Old May 9th, 2014, 06:53 PM   #1310
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Crossrail portal works around old Pudding Mill Lane are underway, as you can see that station canopy are gone. Taken by Flickr user Recliner:


The closed entrance to the old DLR station DSC09459 Pudding Mill Lane 4k by Recliner, on Flickr


Looking east, towards the future Crossrail junction with the GEML and the Orbit DSC09467 Pudding Mill Lane 4k by Recliner, on Flickr
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Old May 10th, 2014, 08:12 AM   #1311
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What the heck is that ... tower "thing" in the top left of the bottom pic?
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Old May 10th, 2014, 09:01 AM   #1312
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse View Post
What the heck is that ... tower "thing" in the top left of the bottom pic?
That's ArcelorMittal Orbit - observation tower. Never heard about it?
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Old May 10th, 2014, 11:30 AM   #1313
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse View Post
What the heck is that ... tower "thing" in the top left of the bottom pic?
A hideous tangled mass of metal, justified as art and built for the Olympics.
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Old May 11th, 2014, 07:33 AM   #1314
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Hmm, very interesting! This is the first time I've heard about it but I'm across a rather wide ocean so perhaps it's reputation is not as entrenched here.
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Old May 13th, 2014, 07:17 PM   #1315
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From Network Rail:

Quote:
http://www.networkrail.co.uk/news/20...-construction/

Rare artifacts unearthed during Thameslink Programme construction
11 May 2014

Medieval floors, 16th century tobacco pipes and thousand-year-old timbers are just a few of the hundreds of artifacts that we've unearthed and preserved as work continues on the £6.5billion Thameslink Programme with the rebuild of London’s oldest railway station, London Bridge.


Tankards


Arrow head


Brick floor


Clay pipe


Timbers under London Bridge station


Clay pipe kiln

Borough viaduct

Archaeological work during construction of the new Borough viaduct uncovered remains from the Roman, Saxon, medieval and more recent periods that provide a fascinating insight into the formation and growth of the ancient settlement at Southwark.

A rare 14th century flagon, thought to have been used to serve ale in the Abbot of Waverley's town house, is now on display in The Wheatsheaf Pub in Stoney Street, close to where it was excavated.

Under London Bridge station

As London Bridge is one of London’s oldest stations it’s not surprising we're unearthing such a range of interesting finds shedding light on London’s development through the ages.

Whilst excavating the original brick arches at London Bridge station, hundreds of historic items have been found which give an insight into the first settlement in the area. Timber piles constructed from trees felled between AD59 to AD83 were discovered and may have formed part of a substantial waterfront building on the edge of the settlement south of the first London Bridge.

Tooley Street

Fragments of medieval floors and walls have also been found. These could have been part large houses along Tooley Street, known to have belonged to important clerics such as the Prior of Lewes. More recent discoveries, dating from the 16th to 18th centuries, include evidence of industry in the area such as kilns for making clay tobacco pipes.

Other finds
  • Traces of early Roman military occupation
  • Evidence for the Boudican revolt
  • A previously unknown Roman bathhouse under Borough High Street
  • Substantial evidence for the Saxon/medieval defences of the settlement
  • The remains of townhouses of important medieval clerics and the St.Saviour’s/Park Street burial ground
London Museum

The results of the work are currently being analysed by archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology and pre-Construct Archaeology for future publication. All the finds and records will be deposited with the Museum of London once work is complete
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Old May 18th, 2014, 04:34 PM   #1316
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From Flickr user Chris Hoare, view on new Canary Wharf station from sky:


Canary Wharf Docklands from the Air by u07ch, on Flickr
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Old May 19th, 2014, 01:38 AM   #1317
DaeguDuke
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Is the roof glass or just sheet metal? Seems a shame to lose all that natural light if it's the latter..
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Old May 19th, 2014, 02:04 AM   #1318
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaeguDuke View Post
Is the roof glass or just sheet metal? Seems a shame to lose all that natural light if it's the latter..
It's not glass it's like some fancy see through plastic stuff I think but I can't remember its actual name
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Old May 21st, 2014, 04:35 PM   #1319
dimlys1994
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Very wonderful photo pictures of some rail projects in London, taken from Flickr user unravelled. Firstly, new Custom House Crossrail station:

Custom House by unravelled, on Flickr

Custom House by unravelled, on Flickr

Custom House by unravelled, on Flickr

Custom House by unravelled, on Flickr

Custom House by unravelled, on Flickr

Victoria Dock Portal:

Custom House by unravelled, on Flickr


Custom House by unravelled, on Flickr

Around Connaught Tunnel portal:


Prince Regent by unravelled, on Flickr

Prince Regent by unravelled, on Flickr

North Woolwich Portal:

Crossrail Albert Rd by unravelled, on Flickr

Crossrail Albert Rd by unravelled, on Flickr

Thameslink works on Bermodsey dive-under:

Bermondsey diveunder works by unravelled, on Flickr

Bermondsey diveunder works by unravelled, on Flickr

At London Bridge:

London Bridge by unravelled, on Flickr

London Bridge by unravelled, on Flickr

London Bridge by unravelled, on Flickr

And installing lifts at New Cross Gate station:

New Cross Gate by unravelled, on Flickr

New Cross Gate by unravelled, on Flickr

New Cross Gate by unravelled, on Flickr

New Cross Gate by unravelled, on Flickr

New Cross Gate by unravelled, on Flickr

New Cross Gate by unravelled, on Flickr

New Cross Gate by unravelled, on Flickr

New Cross Gate by unravelled, on Flickr

New Cross Gate by unravelled, on Flickr

New Cross Gate by unravelled, on Flickr

New Cross Gate by unravelled, on Flickr
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Old May 22nd, 2014, 05:56 PM   #1320
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Very interesting article from London Reconnections about Thames Tunnel:

Quote:
http://www.londonreconnections.com/2...thames-tunnel/

King of the Underworld: Building The Thames Tunnel
21 May 2014, by John Bull



On the 2nd of March 1825 the Thames Tunnel Company began construction of what they hoped would be the first tunnel beneath the Thames. On the banks of the river at Rotherhithe, bricklayers and labourers began their work as the curious watched on. The project had been garnering a certain amount of attention ever since it had been granted royal Assent the year before, and its goal was an ambitious one – the construction of a tunnel beneath the river large enough for both people and horse-drawn traffic to use. It was a goal that many thought was impossible

Over the next few months, London watched as the company’s workforce went about their business under the supervision of the energetic Frenchman who had been appointed to be the Company’s Chief Engineer.

He was, the papers said, an engineering genius. During the Napoleonic wars he had invented the first ever automated manufacturing process for making rigging blocks and thus the Navy, who got through a staggering 100,000 blocks a year, loved him (although apparently not enough to pay his invoices). He had also invented the first true production line process, which he put to use making cheap, quality, mass-produced boots for the army.

True, the Navy’s apparent inability to locate their chequebook and the fact that the sole had fallen out of the boot market after the war had seen him confined to debtors prison, but whilst there he had designed an impressive bridge for the Neva at St Petersburg on behalf of the Tsar, and the British Government had become so worried about the possibility that he might leave the country that they ultimately paid off all his debts from the national purse.

If anyone seemed likely to build the Tunnel, therefore, it was he. But as the weeks wore on and a fifty foot wide circular brick tower began to loom larger and larger on the Rotherhithe skyline, people began to wonder whether maybe someone should have a polite word with this celebrated figure because…

Well…

…Wasn’t he meant to be going down not up?

Contrary to perception, however, the chief engineer knew what he was doing. In order to dig, he knew, you needed a shaft. For a project like this it also needed to be a big one – a deep, wide shaft lined with solid walls to hold the earth back. The digging and shoring of this would have been a dangerous and expensive enough task in solid ground, let alone in the soft earth by the Thames.

But this engineer had an idea.

As the tower got taller it also got heavier and, inch by inch, with scientific inevitability, it began to sink into the soft riverside earth. In fact, by June 6th 1825 the 40ft tower had, with a little bit of help (and with men digging out the inside as it went), sunk completely into the ground.

Marc Brunel, Chief Engineer to the Thames Tunnel Company, had just invented the Caisson.

When most people hear the name “Brunel” today it is Isambard Kingdom who springs to their mind. Isambard’s legacy is huge, and he is rightly considered one of the Greatest Britons ever to have lived. Yet many do not realise that it is to his father, Marc that Londoners (and indeed the world) arguably owe the greater debt. Marc’s work on the Thames Tunnel – which, remarkably, is still in use today – would be the seed from which all London’s major subterranean railways would grow. Although it would ultimately take more than fifteen years to complete and extract a brutal cost in both money and men, the construction of the tunnel would see Brunel face, and largely conquer, all the problems that had until then prevented large-scale subterranean tunnelling.


Marc Brunel by James Northcote

That a tunnel was required at all was a consequence of the massive increase in traffic to London’s ports that had occurred at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century. By the end of the Napoleonic wars, London was the shipping capital of the world – the Thames packed with tall ships waiting to load and unload at all hours of the day. As London increased in size, and as more and more shipping unloaded on the south side of the river, the Capital’s existing river crossings to the heart of the City (London Bridge and Blackfriars) became increasingly overwhelmed.

By Brunel’s time the need for a way to reduce pressure on these bottlenecks was acute, but building a new bridge simply wasn’t an option. Ironically, the very vessels that made a new bridge necessary also meant it was impossible to build one. Any bridge would have to be large enough to allow tall ships to pass underneath – an engineering and financial nightmare. Other cities had addressed the problem by building bascule bridges that could be raised, but the size of the Thames meant that it would be some time before a bridge of this style would be technically possible in London (Tower Bridge, built almost 50 years after the Thames Tunnel was completed).

Given the above constraints, it is perhaps not surprising that Brunel was not the first to think of a crossing that ran below the river rather than above. In 1708 Ralf Dodd, who had been responsible for the Grand Surrey Canal, sank a test shaft at Rotherhithe but declared the geology unworkable. Then in 1805 the Thames Archway Company – the brainchild of Cornish Tin Mine engineer Robert Vazie – attempted to dig a 5ft high tunnel beneath the river.

In both cases, it was the ground that ultimately foiled the projects. The earth beneath the Thames was soft and thus prone to collapse. Worse, the presence of the river above meant that any large space excavated soon fell in and flooded under the pressure of the water above. This prevented the use of traditional mining techniques and the only man so far who had seemed to have a solution to this problem was Richard Trevithick, who had been brought in to try and finish Vazie’s tunnel after repeated collapses. Trevithick’s solution was an expensive one, however – to use a series of coffer dams to remove water from the immediate area and then drop in iron tunnel sections from above. This was too risky (and costly) for the Thames Archway Company’s directors and the tunnel was thus abandoned (although Trevithick’s idea was sound – it was later used in San Francisco with some success).

Brunel, however, thought he had a better solution. Tunnelling had been on Brunel’s mind for a while. He had originally considered a tunnel for his river Neva project, and had watched Trevithick’s efforts with interest. His nautical experience – both from his work with the British Navy and from his time as a young officer in the French Navy before the revolution – had also fixed in his mind an image from nature – the humble shipworm. He had observed that the shipworm dug into a ship’s timbers by using shell-like projections either side of its head to do the cutting, and then eating and excreting the pulped wood.

It was this approach that Brunel initially sought to emulate – he would design a device that would cut through the earth and funnel the detritus through itself. Its own weight and presence would thus provide the tunnel with support while bricklayers following behind built the tunnel lining. Sadly, however, Brunel soon discovered that this would prove impossible – neither manpower nor the steam engines then available proved sufficient to be able to power such a machine.

Undaunted, Brunel modified his plans. Instead of a machine, it was people that Brunel decided to place at the cutting face. He designed an iron and wooden frame which he called a “shield.” Assembled at the bottom of the Rotherhithe shaft in November 1825, this was a frame of thirty-six small chambers, each large enough to hold a single man. Each chamber was fronted by a number of six inch horizontal boards, which could be removed by the chamber’s occupant allowing the small section of earth behind them to be excavated. Once this was done, the board could be replaced and jacked forward, keeping the rest of the earth back.


Brunel’s Tunnelling Shield

When each of the thirty six miners had excavated all their boards, the whole apparatus could be jacked forward, with the frame itself supporting the weight of the roof and bricklayers following on behind to fill in a more permanent lining. This lining would be brick, at least 2ft 6in thick and held together with a new type of Roman cement that Brunel himself had helped create.

It was slow progress, but it worked. Marc Brunel had invented the Tunnelling Shield.

For two years, inch by inch, the tunnel crept forward. It was brutal work beset by constant difficulties. London Clay would become gravel with little warning, and even with the shield acting as a support, flooding was a constant worry. As it was, the tunnel leaked constantly and this was a major problem for the health of all involved. It is worth remembering that the Thames Tunnel pre-dates Bazalgette’s own engineering feats and thus Brunel’s Thames was not just a river. It was also an open sewer and repository for industrial waste.


The Tunnel under construction

As early as 1826, Marc Brunel had been forced to leave much of the day to day running in the hands of his senior engineers. Ill-health and stress also wrought havoc on their ranks, however, not to mention on the miners, labourers and bricklayers who worked for eight hour shifts amidst the seeping sewage and oppressive air.

Luckily for Brunel, engineering ran in the blood. As his own health faltered, he found that he could increasingly rely on his son to take up the daily management of the project – not yet twenty, Isambard Kingdom Brunel became his father’s presence on the front line of construction. It was on the Thames Tunnel that Isambard effectively learnt his craft, and here that he demonstrated his strength and talent for driving forward large projects.


Isambard Kingdom Brunel, pictured later in life

By February 1827, the Tunnel had been driven forward about 300ft. This was a major achievement given the conditions of earth, water and air, but it was far slower than Brunel or anyone else had forecast. The project was already now well over budget and behind schedule. In an effort to do something to quell rising costs, the company’s directors ordered the workers wages reduced. This did more harm than good, and though later resolved, resulted in a strike that brought all work to a halt for a time.

The directors also decided, against Brunel’s advice, to open the works to public viewing at the price of a shilling a time. Brunel’s major objection to this was one of safety – the risk of flooding was still there, he insisted, and would only grow as the tunnel’s length increased. Brunel knew that the tunnel would soon be perilously close to the riverbed’s lowest point and by May workers were beginning to find debris such as coal and china in the leaks – suggesting that the tunnel was possibly even closer to the riverbed than they had planned. On the 18th May Marc was leading Lady Raffles and her party on one of the directors’ paid tours when he felt a feeling of real foreboding.

“[I was] most uneasy all the while,” he would later say, “as if I had a presentiment.”

That evening, as the tide in the Thames rose, the tunnel roof above the tunnelling shield broke. Water poured in, and the workers (and Isambard who was supervising them at the time) were forced to beat a hasty retreat to the Rotherhithe shaft.

With work now halted, Isambard went down in a borrowed Diving Bell to survey the damage. It soon became clear what had happened – gravel dredgers operating in the Thames had, contrary to the law, been dredging too deep. The tunnel had indeed ended up closer to the riverbed than expected, and this had led to the roof’s collapse.

Worse soon came for Marc. The damage was repairable and, under Isambard’s careful supervision, Marc had men lay iron roads across the breech and bags of clay dumped on top. When this had been completed, the tunnel was pumped dry and work began again (although the flood water left the air in the incomplete tunnel section even worse than before). All this put even more pressure on Marc’s health, however, and in August 1827 he suffered a paralytic stroke.

As he slowly recovered, with Isambard continuing to supervise the work, it soon became clear that the flooding had caused public confidence in the project to waver – potentially disastrous given the perilous state of the company’s finances. In an effort to restore faith, therefore, a rather effective public relations stunt was staged – in November 1827 a sumptuous banquet was held in the tunnel for the project’s backers.


George Jones’ famous painting of the banquet is the only picture featuring both Marc and Isambard together. Doubly impressive given that Marc didn’t actually attend

The stunt worked. With the Coldstream Guards playing heartily in the background, and many notable guests in place (including the Duke of Wellington – who was a lifelong supporter of Brunel thanks to the Frenchman’s boot-making efforts) confidence was restored and work continued.

That confidence would not last long. On the 12th January 1828, as Isambard was supervising work in the tunnel, he noticed that two miners – Collins and Ball – were struggling with some shoring on the Tunnelling Shield. A hands on manager throughout his life, Isambard headed forward to help them out. Suddenly, as they worked, the three men were engulfed in a torrent of water.

The pressure threw the men back off the frame and shattered the wooden scaffolding behind on which the bricklayers worked. As water poured through the now-broken tunnel ceiling, men and material were thrown about like ragdolls. As the water sheeted down, Isambard found himself pinned beneath the remains of the broken scaffolding. Somehow, with the water-level in the tunnel rising quickly, he managed to free himself and crawled into one of the brick arches that ran down the centre of the tunnel bore. Sheltered briefly from the full force of the water, Isambard was able to pull himself up and survey for the first time the damage – he quickly realised that a major breach had happened. The tunnel was flooding – and fast.

Isambard ran.

As Isambard and the rest of the tunnel’s workforce raced towards the safety of the Rotherhithe shaft, the breach worsened. As the young engineer reached the shaft he realised the worker’s steps were crammed with those trying to escape. He turned and sprinted for the visitors’ stairs, but was suddenly swept off his feet by a vast wave of water that surged down the tunnel with such force that it pushed Isambard and several others who had not yet have reached the surface right up the shaft itself. Some – including a battered and broken Isambard – were lucky enough to be swept over the lip to safety. The unlucky ones were sucked back down to their deaths as the wave lost its force.

Six men died, including Collins and Ball. Unlike Isambard, they had been unable to free themselves from the wreckage of the scaffolding.

The flood had disastrous consequences for the tunnel. Not only was the damage greater than before, but it also robbed Marc of one of his most valuable resources – Isambard. His knee torn, his body bruised and (although he didn’t know it at the time) bleeding internally, Isambard had insisted on staying on site in the immediate aftermath and supervising the assessment of the damage by Diving Bell. Even Isambard’s capacity for feats of endurance had limits though, and he was soon forcefully packed off to Brighton to recover (he’d pass his time designing a bridge or two).

Deprived of his right hand, Marc went into overdrive. His days were spent supervising the repair efforts and speaking publicly in support of the project’s continuation. His nights were spent poring over the days’ work results and writing reports to the now-frantic company directors detailing the state of play.

Eventually the breaches were sealed, but just as work was about to begin on restoring the badly damaged tunnelling frames, the project’s finances finally reached critical point. The company needed an investment of funds to survive but despite the efforts of Marc and his ever-present supporter, the Duke of Wellington, who once again put his public reputation on the line and vocally supported Brunel, a subscription drive failed.

On August 9th 1828, the tunnel face, with the remains of the frames still in place, was bricked up. The Tunnel seemed finished.

Marc Brunel, however, wasn’t.

As soon as tunnelling ceased, Brunel began a relentless offensive aimed at securing the funds necessary to complete it – £250,000 all told. He lobbied financiers and businessmen, but soon realised that the only source of likely funding was the Government itself. Shockingly, in 1830 Brunel discovered that the Government itself had actually reached this same conclusion some time before, and had offered a loan to the company only to see it rejected out of hand by the Company’s then Chairman – a man who it now seemed had been almost willing the company to fail by the end.

By 1831 Brunel had, despite suffering a heart attack, managed to undo this damage and the Government now agreed that Brunel could seek to draw on the Treasury’s Loan scheme. At the Company’s AGM, Brunel had also seen the Chairman deposed.

Getting the Treasury to actually agree to a loan, however, proved incredibly difficult. The first proposal was rejected but Brunel continued to campaign, even lobbying the King himself. The second was approved only, heartbreakingly, for Brunel to see the Treasury Loan Scheme’s funding cut rendering the approval useless.

In 1834, after a third application had been rejected, a number of Fellows from the Royal Society decided to throw a dinner in Brunel’s honour. At the Spreadeagle & Crown Pub at Rotherhithe (now the Mayflower), they toasted the Engineer’s health and formed the “Tunnel Club” – a lobbying group determined to help Brunel bring his funding plans to fruition.

Finally, in June of that year, Parliament signed off on a £270,000 loan.

Work on the tunnel began again in 1835. The old, now rusted, shield was removed and a new one, its design improved by Brunel, installed in its place. The work of digging the tunnel proved to be even more brutal than before. Brunel had planned to transfer a significant amount of the effort to the Wapping side of the river, not least to allow ventilation to be taken over from there. The Treasury, however, refused to sign off the expense. The wording on the loan was very specific, they insisted – it was to complete construction that was already started and they would consider this as new work.

As a result, conditions below ground became positively horrific. The air was putrid, not helped by the fact that over 100 gallons of Thames filth was now seeping through the tunnel head every day, and gas was increasingly building up in the tunnel as well. This would lead to the occasional outbreak of explosions and small fires which would burn for days, rendering the tunnel even hotter to work in and leaving the iron-framed tunnelling shield sometimes scalding to the touch.

The government also rejected a plan by Brunel to buy his own Diving Bell. This, he’d determined, would have been the solution to the flooding problem – by having a Diving Bell above the tunnel head at all times Brunel hoped to be able to catch likely flood points in advance and reinforce them with clay bags before they broke. Brunel got his ship from which to distribute the clay, but not the Diving Bell and thus was largely reduced to throwing clay overboard blind in the hope that it would help.

Despite all this, the tunnel slowly progressed. Burned by flame, sickened by the water, vomiting and blinded by the gas, the cost to the workers was horrific. Lessons would be learnt for the future from the pains suffered by Brunel’s workers but that was little help to them now. Brunel repeatedly petitioned to be allowed his Wapping ventilation shaft, but was repeatedly turned down. Inch by inch, the tunnel crept forward and more and more the miners found themselves digging through mud rather than earth.

Then, on the morning of the 23rd August, the seemingly inevitable happened once again.

There had been some concern about the water levels in the tunnel since the night before, although nothing had come of it. Brunel himself had been at the site since 4am but left in the middle morning when nothing had developed. At lunchtime Thomas Page, Marc’s primary engineer now that Isambard had major projects of his own, was about to depart for a meeting with the company directors, but when he heard that the flow of water had increased slightly above one of the cutting frames something at the back of his mind told him not to go.

Instead Page headed down to the shield. All appeared under control but, still wary, Page ordered that a raft, clay and other breach-blocking supplies be readied. He also ordered the tunnel cleared of visitors and unnecessary personnel and that a note be dispatched to Brunel warning him that a breach may come at high-tide.

Page was correct – but it didn’t take until high-tide. By the afternoon water was rushing in and the workers, under the calm and controlled oversight of Page, were pumping out water and strengthening the tunnel to try and stem the flow. Ultimately it proved unsuccessful and Page was forced to order the evacuation, but his management of the situation meant that the breach was far less serious than it could have been. After the normal process of Diving Bell and Clay Bagging, work resumed on the 11th of September.

The Tunnel would flood three more times, the first of which happened whilst both Brunel and Page were ill and sadly cost a life. By now, however, the process of sealing breaches and cleaning the tunnel had become almost routine. Even during the third, when the water managed to take out all the lighting in the tunnel, the workforce remained composed and were able to minimise the damage. In all cases, work resumed with little delay.

Progress, however, was still painfully slow – just nine-tenths of an inch a day in some months – because the conditions below ground continued to worsen. Brunel, who turned 70 in 1839, was repeatedly bedridden. His condition was not helped by the fact that he would visit the site every two hours at all times of the day to check for potential breaches. Page too suffered.

Ultimately, however, it was the workforce who continued to suffer worst. Again and again Brunel lobbied the Treasury to allow him to build his Wapping ventilation shaft, but he was continually refused. As one newspaper at the time noted with morbid humour, the Government’s policy seemed rather “one-sided.”

On the 22nd August 1839 the tunnel reached the low-water mark on the Wapping bank. Work continued and on the 11th June 1840, work began on the main shaft at Wapping, to be constructed in the same way as the first at Rotherhithe. In May, as the Wapping shaft slowly sank and the main tunnel neared its final destination, a small drainage shaft was dug between the two. That June, Marc Brunel’s 3 year old grandson became the first person ever to fully pass under the river from shore to shore.

Finally, on November 16th 1841, Thomas Page climbed out of the Rotherhithe shaft and knocked on the door of Brunel’s house just a few metres down the road. On being ushered in, he presented the 72 year old engineer with a clod of earth. Brunel looked at it and smiled at Page, who smiled right back.

The clod was covered in red brick dust. The tunnel had finally reached the shaft. Brunel had successfully built a tunnel beneath the Thames.

The work did not finish there, of course, and it would not be until March 1843 that the Tunnel admitted its first paying customer. Even then, it was ultimately a financial failure. The money the Government had loaned the company proved enough to complete the tunnel, but not enough to build the huge descent ramps necessary for horse-drawn traffic to access the tunnel.

As a result, it could take foot traffic only. The tunnel was rightly recognised as an engineering marvel and became one of London’s biggest tourist attractions – 2 million people used it in that first year alone, but it had ultimately cost almost £500,000 to build. Without road traffic it could never repay that, and despite the company’s efforts to turn it into a bustling subterranean market and Christmas fair, it ultimately ended up as a refuge for the seedier side of London life.


The Tunnel shortly after its completion

In 1865, however, the tunnel finally found its use – it was purchased by the East London Railway and became a railway tunnel beneath the Thames. Since then the Tunnel has seen passengers, goods, armaments and even runaway sheep travel through its confines.

Indeed it is still at the heart of London’s railway network today – if you find yourself on the East London Line then look carefully as you pass through Wapping or Rotherhithe and you’ll see it.


The Tunnel in 1996 – before the massive renovation efforts that took place during the ELL rebuild. Courtesy English Heritage


The Tunnel shortly before the revamped East London Line opened. Courtesy Caroline’s Miscellany

Almost two hundred years ago, Marc Brunel set out to do the impossible. At great cost in money, time and men he managed to accomplish something that no-one had ever done before, creating a tunnel that many then genuinely regarded as the eighth wonder of the world. In doing so he laid down the foundations for every major subterranean railway that would follow. Others would take the inventions he had created and the lessons he had learnt and improve on them, but to Marc Brunel goes the honour of proving that it could be done at all.

The Historian Peter Ackroyd once described Marc Brunel as “a lord of the underworld.” It is probably fair to say, however, that he is incorrect.

For both the engineering legacy he left behind, and the cost to both himself and others that it required, Marc Brunel wasn’t a lord of the Underworld.

He was its King.

This article first ran on London Reconnections in February 2011. We run it again here to mark the brief opening of the Thames Tunnel to walkthrough tours this weekend. Although tickets are (unsurprisingly) sold out, we thus hope to have photos of the current state of the tunnel next week
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