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Brunel Engine House for the Thames tunnel

Engineering success then and now

From Wapping on the north bank of the Thames and Rotherhithe on the south bank in east London

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A Thames Tunnel
Engineering success then and now

Most travellers on the East London line do not realise that they pass through not just the first tunnel under the River Thames but the first tunnel ever built under a major waterway.

An engineering challenge Isambard Kingdom Brunel
This great feat of engineering was achieved by Sir Marc Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel between 1825 and 1843.
Digging under a river in soft sediments seemed 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 tunneling right down to the present day.
The scene today above ground
The Thames cycle path through Rotherhithe passes the engine house which Brunel built for the pumps used to keep the tunnel workings dry. Alongside are the remains of the shaft sunk into the ground when the tunnelling started.
The tunnel restored
More recently the tunnel was restored by Taylor Woodrow for London Underground between 1995 and 1997 based on plans prepared by the Dr G Sauer Company.

Submitted by: Jo Hunt, 16 January 2007

Find out much more detail from this web site about the engine house, the Thames TunnelTARGET: _blank and the people who created them.
There is a web site describing thge life and work of Marc Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel who was seriously injured the second time the river burst in and flooded the tunnel.

See also: Civil engineering Structures Transport

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City sponsors:
ASE London Region
Nuffiled Curriculum Centre