Bank holiday Monday brought with it a real treat! The London Underground is iconic and quite possibly one of the most famous landmarks of London. And it has an impressive and complicated history. On Monday however, we were lucky to experience something that most people will never get to do: we walked along the Thames Tunnel.
It was built by Brunel (that's Marc Brunel, not his son Isambard, although he was involved too as work progressed) and was the first tunnel to successfully pass under a navigable river. And we're talking mid-19th century at a time when many engineers were convinced that such a feat was impossible.
The tunnel met with a lot of problems and its fair share of tragedy, but it's history is incredible. It was designed for horse-drawn traffic originally, but the money ran out and there was none left to to build ramps that would be able to get horses up and down from street level to tunnel level. So it became a tourist attraction and eventually, a train tunnel. Today it is used by London Overground to get trains from Wapping on the north bank of the Thames, to Rotherhithe on the South.
Planned engineering works north and south of the tunnel meant no trains this weekend and so the tunnel was open for visitors. This has only happened once before and is unlikely to happen again any time soon. My lovely man scored us some hard-to-come-by tickets; they sold out incredibly quickly. And we spent a wonderful time being guided along the tunnel, picking our way over the tracks and marvelling at the structure. It's Grade II Listed and actually very beautiful with columns and arches that stretch from platform to platform. Hopping off the platform at Rotherhithe felt wonderfully disobedient and I was incredibly excited to experience the full spectacle. A really great day out!
P.S. I love half term! Goodness it's been busy at school. Bring on the summer!