London's Thames Tunnel Just Reopened As An Art Space


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockApr 18 2016, 20:23 UTC
1064 London's Thames Tunnel Just Reopened As An Art Space
How the Thames Tunnel looked in the mid-19th century. Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

An incredible piece of London’s engineering history has been pumped full of new life. The entrance to the Thames Tunnel has been reopened as a new art space.

When the Thames Tunnel was first opened in 1843, it was described as the Eighth Wonder of the World, proudly boasting the title of the first tunnel known to have been built underneath a navigable river. It was constructed by none other than Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his father Marc Isambard Brunel, two titans of modern engineering and the Industrial Revolution.


The 400-meter-long (1,300-feet) tunnel space was originally designed to transport cargo by horse-drawn carriages. Although those plans quickly became lost, the tunnel turned into a marvel throughout Victorian Britain and attracted pedestrians far and wide, who used the space as an underwater area to socialize, relax, and indulge.

It is perhaps then not out of tune that the entrance hall has reopened as an art space, which has begun to host art, theater, and music events this month. While the space has kept its raw and gritty industrial look, it has been given a new staircase, designed by architects at Tate Harmer. Robert Hulse, Director of the Brunel Museum, remarked “Brunel would have approved,” The Guardian reports.

The Brunel Museum


In a statement, Hulse added: “Brunel was a daring engineer and organised the world’s first underwater concert right here in Rotherhithe [southeast London]. Museums should be places to be inspired and places for celebration and performance. Happy Birthday, Brunel! 210 years old this week.”

You can find the Grand Entrance Hall in Rotherhithe, on the south bank of the Thames, a short walk from Canada Water tube station.



  • tag
  • history,

  • Engineering,

  • London,

  • Brunel,

  • River Thames