Sheela-na-Gig aka Jeanne Rathbone

Brunel Museum Rotherhithe.

Posted in 8th wonder of the world., Brunel Museum Rotherhithe by sheelanagigcomedienne on March 3, 2012

I was in Rotherhithe on a family visit and came across the Brunel Museum near the station. I remembered that I had free entry with my Art Fund card. It has a fascinating history and it was initiated by Marc Brunel father of Isambard. It made for a a very evocative visit. It is well worth a trip to the area and the museum gives a flavour of the inventiveness of the Brunel’s pere et fils.  Marc Brunel had a sawmills and boot making factory in Battersea on the site of what became Morgan Crucible and which is now low level luxury housing showing the layers of Thameside history which I am agitating to be honoured with information boards.

The Rotherhithe tunnel must have been quite a sight. It had no wobble problems on opening despite the huge number of visitors although it took a long time in its construction due to flooding and the need to raise funds. No National Lottery then to help the financing of it.

Brunel m

It became a railway tunnel. A railway company took over the tunnel in 1865 with the intention of digging new tunnels to link up from the North and South to link the Thames Tunnel to the national railway network. Four years later, in 1869, trains started to run through the tunnel meant  for horses and carts. For the first time the tunnel was doing what it was intended to do – carrying freight across the river.

London Overground was opened in 2010 and saw the re-opening of the Thames Tunnel. What was once the stub East London Line has now metamorphosed into the London Overground creating new routes linking destinations north and south of the river. Eventually this will become part of an orbital railway – an outer Circle Line of the river. I love the overground as it has opened up so many areas.

Brunel grand entrance

On opening day 50,000 people walked through the tunnel paying a penny each. Within the first ten weeks 1,000,000 people had walked through. These were staggering numbers that any attraction would be delighted with today but bear in mind this was 1843 when the population of London was 2,000,000 people.

So it was that Marc Brunel proposed a crossing under the Thames using a tunneling shield, a piece of equipment that would support the tunnel’s walls and roof as it was dug out, giving the bricklayers time to line the tunnel and create a solid structure. Horses pulling their loaded carts would descend on giant spiral ramps in new shafts 200 feet wide.

Here is what Jo Brand says about it taken from a card I bought.

London Overground was opened in 2010 and saw the re-opening of the Thames Tunnel. What was once the stub East London Line has now metamorphosed into the London Overground creating new routes linking destinations north and south of the river. Eventually this will become part of an orbital railway – an outer Circle Line of the river. I love the overground as it has opened up so many areas.

 

Brunel tunnel

London Overground was opened in 2010 and saw the re-opening of the Thames Tunnel. What was once the stub East London Line has now metamorphosed into the London Overground creating new routes linking destinations north and south of the river. Eventually this will become part of an orbital railway – an outer Circle Line of the river. I love the overground as it has opened up so many areas.

 

Brunel cafe

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