Isambard Kingdom Brunel is in the news recently as a museum dedicated to his works in Rotherhithe has been granted planning permission to build an extension. A new pavilion will link the existing old Engine House and the Sinking Shaft and increase capacity.
There will be room for a café and a shop in the new entrance hall. The Engine House itself will be refurbished and show new displays and also provide a new home for the Thames Tunnel Archive drawings.
The work will be paid for by grants from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and others and from other fundraising.
The current museum was opened in 1975 and attracts around 35,000 visitors a year during non Covid times.
EUROPE’S LONGEST UNDERGROUND CYCLE LANE
Meanwhile a Victorian railway line built in 1890, overseen by the tunnel’s chief engineer Sydney William Yockney, a pupil of Brunel, could become Europe’s longest underground cycle lane. It was originally built to transport coal from the Rhondda Valley to Swansea Bay for onward shipping and continued in use until decommissioning in 1968. Surprisingly the 3,148-meter-long route still belongs to Highways England however the Transport Secretary Grant Schapps has said he is prepared to transfer it to the Welsh Government or the local council with funds to create a cycle path. Currently both of the tunnel entrances are buried under soil.