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Click through this guide to learn about the tunnel's past, present and future

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Pipe dream    |         Shortlist        |         Triumph        |         Nightmare        |     Fantasy?


Pipe dream

The first serious design of many over the years was for a tunnel used by horse drawn vehicles, lit by candles and with regular air shafts projecting above the waves.

More outlandish ideas included a tunnel with sections moved into place by balloons, and filling in the Channel to create a narrow strip of land with gaps at intervals for shipping.

Another plan, to overcome the fear of invasion, was for a viaduct to connect the tunnel to dry land if necessary the link could be severed by artillery shells.

The 1870s saw momentum build to the extent that pilot tunnels were dug on both sides of the Channel, with visitors taken to see the workings by tram.

By 1882 public opinion in Britain had turned firmly against the project and it was abandoned.

Yet interest in the idea burned on, with designers and artists pondering how the link could look, as in the vision below from the 1930s.

Albert Mathieu-Favier's design, presented to Napoleon in 1802

An 1891 idea showing a viaduct that could be shelled in wartime
An ambitious French vision of about 1935 showing a huge combined rail and road tunnel
The tunnel workings of the 1880s remained intact for a century

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