What were you doing in your 20s? If you were like me, it involved uni, pubs and dreaming of travelling the world. If you were the great Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1826 you were building the world’s first underwater tunnel under our lil Thames.
Upon its completion, it was considered a wonder of the age and attracted thousands of visitors to London and while it is no longer open, the entrance to Brunel’s tunnel is in Rotherhide, handily next door to Brunel’s museum where you can learn more about the great man and his work.
But to really get a taste of his legacy you need to join the tour of The Grand Entrance hall. Not for the claustrophobic or very tall, you must crouch and crawl to fit through the tiny entrance, then negotiate the steep steps to descend into the chamber where helpful fairy lights and chairs await you to make your visit more comfortable. Inside you’re treated to the history of the tunnel including the clever inventions Brunel came up with to complete his work, to the more grim side of how many men’s lives it claimed in its building.
But it’s worth seeing and hearing all about an important piece of London history hidden underground which was only recently opened to the public. Available Tuesday evening and Sunday mornings – for more info, click here… (Words: Lucy Palmer)