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Brunel Museum

Dramatic staircase and new full size doorway leads down to underground chamber, award winning river gardens. Use your train ticket to view Thames Tunnel portico and travel through world's first underwater shopping arcade and fairground, Saturday 5-11pm cocktails in roof garden with Midnight Apothecary. The Brunel Museum is housed in the Brunel Engine House, designed to be part of the infrastructure of the Thames Tunnel.

Architect

Brunel, Sir Marc

Date

1842

Brunel Museum

Sat/Sun 10am-5pm. Sat 5-11pm cocktails in roof garden with Midnight Apothecary.

Canada Water

Rotherhithe

1, 188, 381

  • Bookshop at location
  • Toilets available

BRUNEL MUSEUM The significant feature marked by this small building is now no longer easily visible: this is the world_s first major underwater thoroughfare, the Thames Tunnel, commenced in 1825 and finally completed as a pedestrian walkway in 1843. Sold to the East London Railway in 1865, the tunnel is now part of the London Underground and therefore inaccessible to pedestrians. However the Museum organises Floodlit Tube Train Journeys today, and on important dates throughout the year. The display on the Tunnel uses electro-luminescence, a new technology used in a museum for the first time. The display on Great Eastern, launched a few hundred yards down the river, uses stereoscopic cards.Work on the tunnel was supervised by Sir Marc Isambard Brunel with his son I.K. Brunel as Chief Engineer: a cylindrical brick shaft 50ft in diameter was constructed above ground to a height of 42ft at a rate of 1000 bricks per bricklayer per day. The shaft, which can be seen next to the engine house, was then sunk at a rate of 6 inches per day, and once the correct depth was reached tunnelling commenced.The success of the project was later jeopardised though the inaccuracy of geological data provided, compounded by corner-cutting against Brunel_s protestations on the part of the tunnel_s promotion company. The resulting breach of the tunnel walls by the river caused damage and loss of life on three occasions and in 1828, despite the introduction of a new building material (Portland cement), work was halted and the partially-built tunnel bricked up.In 1835 the project was revived; conditions were as unpleasant and hazardous as before, with workmen suffering blindness through tunnel sickness and labouring under permanent threat of breaching, or of asphyxiation or explosion through accumulation of marsh gas. These vicissitudes are recalled in the Engine House exhibition and in the tunnel whose superiority of design and workmanship are exemplified in its continuing use as a working railway.