Greenwich foot tunnel

Greenwich foot tunnel

The Greenwich foot tunnel is a pedestrian tunnel crossing beneath the River Thames in South East London, linking the London Borough of Greenwich in the south with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to the north. It was designed by civil engineer Sir Alexander Binnie for London County Council, and was constructed by contractor John Cochrane & Co; the project started in June 1899 and the tunnel was opened on 4 August 1902.

The tunnel replaced an expensive and sometimes unreliable ferry service, and was intended to allow workers living on the south side of the Thames to reach their workplaces in the London docks and shipyards then situated on the Isle of Dogs. Its creation owed much to the efforts of working-class politician Will Crooks who had worked in the docks and, after chairing the LCC's Bridges Committee responsible for the tunnel, would later serve as Labour MP for nearby Woolwich.

The entrance shafts at both ends lie beneath glazed domes, with lifts (elevators) (installed in 1904, upgraded in 1992) and spiral staircases allowing pedestrians to reach the sloping, tile-lined tunnel at the bottom. The cast-iron tunnel itself is 370.2 m (1,217 ft) long and 15.2 m deep [Structurae|id=s0006912|title=Greenwich Foot Tunnel] and has an internal diameter of about 9 feet (3 m). Its cast-iron rings are lined with concrete which has been surfaced with some 200,000 white glazed tiles. The northern end was damaged by bombs during World War II and the repairs include a thick steel and concrete inner lining that reduces the diameter substantially for a short distance.

The tunnel is a convenient link between Greenwich town centre on the southern side— the entrance is close to the preserved tea clipper "Cutty Sark" — and Island Gardens on the north, a park on the southern tip of the Isle of Dogs, with excellent views across the river to the former Greenwich Hospital, the Queen's House and the Royal Greenwich Observatory. Because of its depth and location, the tunnel remains cool even on hot days.

The tunnel is classed as a public highway and therefore by law is kept open 24 hours a day. However, the attendant-operated lift service is only open from 7am to 7pm on weekdays and Saturdays, 10am-5.30pm on Sundays, with no service on Christmas Day or Boxing Day; staff shortages and other problems mean that even during these times the lifts are often unavailable. If the lift is not functioning and a person feels unable to use the stairs, they may take the Docklands Light Railway from nearby Island Gardens DLR station to Cutty Sark DLR station, close to the southern end of the foot tunel. Bicycles are not permitted on the Docklands Light Railway system.

The tunnel is also part of the UK's National Cycle Network, Route 1, linking Inverness and Dover, although cyclists are required to dismount and push their bikes through the tunnel itself.


* Greenwich entrance: coord|51.4833|N|0.0102|W|region:GB_type:landmark|display=inline,title
* Tower Hamlets entrance: coord|51.4866|N|0.0093|W|region:GB_type:landmark|display=inline

ee also

*Tunnels underneath the River Thames


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