Tunnel with masonry lining
|Function / usage:||
Subway (pedestrian tunnel)
Metro tunnel / subway tunnel
Railroad (railway) tunnel
Tower Hamlets, London, England, United Kingdom
Southwark, London, England, United Kingdom
|Coordinates:||51° 30' 3.00" N 0° 3' 7.00" W|
|Coordinates:||51° 30' 16.00" N 0° 3' 21.00" W|
|cost of construction||Pound sterling 454 000 + 180 000|
tile lined brick built using Roman cement
Marc Isambard Brunel presents a first design for a tunneling shield for use in a project under the Neva in Saint Petersburg. Although a bridge is built instead, the concept is similar to the shield Brunel would eventually use on the Thames Tunnel.
Marc Brunel and Thomas Cochrane patent their tunneling shield.
Marc Brunel proposes a plan for a tunnel between Rotherhithe and Wapping to be dug using his new shield. Private investors including the Duke of Wellington help fund the Thames Tunnel Company which is formed the following year.
|2 March 1825||
First brick laid.
The shaft on the south bank at Rotherhithe is completed. It is located 46 m away from the river bank. The shaft was built using an iron ring 15 m in diameter onto which a 12 m high circular wall is built with a thickness of 91 cm. It is surmounted by a steam engine driving the excavation pumps. The weight of the entire apparatus is estimated at 1 000 tons. The soil below the ring was removed manually and due to its weight it would sink into the soft soil as digging continued. The construction was not without incident as the apparatus became stuck at one point and additional weight had to be added to make the ring descend further. This was due to the wall being vertical and not tapered thus providing a larger friction surface. For the later Wapping the same method was used though with a tapered apparatus.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel is resident engineer. Followed by William Gravett and Richard Beamish.
|12 May 1827||
First major eruption.
|12 January 1828||
Isambard Kingdom Brunel is seriously injured during second eruption, while 6 workmen are killed. Brunel is sent to Brislington to recuperate where he finds out about the competition for the construction of the Clifton Bridge.
Due to financial woes the tunnel is walled off and construction halts for 7 years.
Marc Brunel succeeds in raising sufficient funds to continue working on the tunnel. This includes a £247,000 loan from the treasury.
- March 1836
The first shield, left in the tunnel for seven years to rust, is dismantled and removed. It is replaced by a new and heavier shield.
The tunnel is flooded four more times (on 23 August 1837, 3 November 1837, 20 March 1838, and again on 3 April 1840) and fires and leaks of methane and hydrogen sulphide gas impede tunnelling.
Marc Isambart Brunel is knighted.
Tunneling itself is completed. The further works include fitting out the tunnel with lighting, roaways, adding staircases in the shafts, etc. An engine house is built on the Rotherhithe side (now houses the Brunel Museum).
|25 March 1843||
The tunnel is opened to the public. By that day the costs have far exceeded the initial cost estimates. While a civil engineering success, it does not become a financial one despite two million pedestrians paying a penny per trip to use the tunnel.
|26 July 1843||
Royal visit by Queen Victoria.
The East London Railway Company purchases the tunnel to convert it into link between Wapping and the South London Line.
|7 December 1869||
The first train rolls through the tunnel. The East London Railway is later incorporated into the London Underground.
The original but disused entrance shafts to the pedestrian tunnel are converted into Wapping and Rotherhithe stations, respectively.
The tunnel is closed for long-term maintenance work. London Underground management declares that the tunnel must be repaired or the East London Line will have to be closed. The proposal is to shotcrete any leaks thus covering up the original masonry lining which causes controversy with conservationists. It is finally agreed that one end of the tunnel is to be left untreated while the remainder is repaired.
23 December 2007
- 27 April 2010
The tunnel is closed again for upgrading works to the tracks and signalling as part of the East London line extension. Afterwards the tunnel becomes a part of London Overground and upon reopening is used by mainline trains again.
Relevant Web Sites
- An Account of the Actual State of the Works at the Thames Tunnel (June 23, 1840). In: Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, v. 1, n. 1840 ( 1841), pp. 85-86. (1841):
- Mechanised Shield Tunnelling. 2nd edition, Wilhelm Ernst & Sohn Verlag für Architektur und technische Wissenschaften GmbH, Berlin (Germany), ISBN 978-3-433-02995-4, pp. 17-19. (2012):
- Meisterwerke der Ingenieurbaukunst. Bundesanzeiger Verlag, Cologne (Germany), pp. 137-139. (1998):
- Notice Concerning the Thames Tunnel. In: Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, v. 1, n. 1837 ( 1841), pp. 32-33. (1841):
- On the Thames Tunnel. In: Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, v. 1, n. 1838 ( 1841), pp. 23. (1841):
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