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Tuesday, 13 August, 2002, 21:33 GMT 22:33 UK
Brunel's forgotten masterpiece
The Thames Tunnels
The tunnels were the first underwater thoroughfares
Engineering enthusiasts are calling for a museum to be built to mark the site of one of the world's first underwater thoroughfares.

A disused and derelict shaft in Rotherhithe was built by the Victorian engineering genius, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

It is where he and his father, Marc Isambard Brunel, started what is now known as the Thames Tunnel.

The tunnel, opened in 1843, is still used by London Underground.

Robert Hulse
Enthusiast Robert Hulse wants a London Brunel museum

The tunnel project was one of Brunel's earliest constructions and enthusiasts want to build a museum on the site of the shaft.

Robert Hulse, who takes groups around the Brunel Pump House at weekends, told BBC London that the shaft should not be left derelict.

He said: "Just 100m from Rotherhithe station is the shaft, which is the first thing Brunel worked on.

"It's the only project that Brunel and his father worked on together.

"London needs a museum to Brunel, just like Bristol."

The work, which started in 1825, was almost Brunel's last project - he nearly died during a serious flood which killed six miners.

The tunnel was opened as a pedestrian route in 1843, but was sold to a railway company in 1865.

Passengers still travel through the tunnels between Rotherhithe and Wapping on the East London Line, which did not require major refurbishment until the 1990s.


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31 Jan 02 | England
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