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The Tunnel

A unique survival from the past

Built by Marc Brunel and Isambard Kingdom Brunel as part of the pioneering Thames Tunnel

- the first underwater thoroughfare in the World.

The Tunnel

The tunnel was built between 1825 and 1843, and was a triumph of ingenuity and perseverance in the face of floods, financial losses, and human disaster.

It was opened as a pedestrian route in 1843, but was sold to a railway company in 1865.  It is still used by the London Underground today, and passengers travelling to Rotherhithe Station on the East London Line will have the pleasure of passing through this historic piece of engineering.


The Engine House

The Engine House is a striking piece of 19th Century architecture.  It is a listed red brick building, elegant but simple. It was designed by Sir Marc Brunel to contain the steam engines which drained the celebrated Thames Tunnel.  

The high chimney has been restored by the Trust.


The Shield

Digging under a river in soft sediments was an impossible task. But Marc Brunel solved the problem with the invention of the tunnelling shield - a solution that has formed the basis of modern tunnelling right down to the present day. .


The Miners

The shield was divided into 36 compartments. Each compartment held one miner. The miner was protected by extensive shoring which allowed a small section of tunnel face to work on.


The Shaft

Adjoining the Engine House is the original brick shaft. This was the first part of the project and was itself one of the most innovative aspects of the project. The shaft was built on the land surface course by course while the miners undermined the foundations. This allowed the brick lining to gradually sink into the ground. The Shaft was the first part of the great work and the first project of the great career of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.



Ind. Rev.

The Lost Industry of Southwark Project is supported by:

the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs

Project Director- Kevin Flude

Email Kevin Flude. Cultural Heritage Resources

To find out more on Southwark visit the SOUTHWARK LOCAL STUDIES LIBRARY
& buy the excellent book by Leonard Riley entitled 'Southwark - an illustrated guide.'

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