The Brunels’ Thames Tunnel – a legacy to modern tunnelling
The Thames Tunnel, completed in 1843, was the first of its kind to be built under a navigable river. It measured 35ft wide, 20ft high and a gruelling 1,300ft long.
The ambitious structure was dug using a newly invented tunnelling shield technology, another brainchild from the talented Brunels, and was originally designed to allow passage of horse-drawn carriages across the Thames. Like so many of the Brunel achievements, the tunnel still stands today; forming part of the London Overground railway network.
Professor Robert Mair is the Sir Kirby Laing Professor of Civil Engineering and Head of Civil Engineering at Cambridge University. He leads a substantial research group collaborating closely with industry, focusing on the geotechnics of underground construction and innovative field monitoring techniques.
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