Rotherhithe Tunnel Northern Portal - London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 30.642 W 000° 02.511
30U E 705264 N 5710768
Quick Description: This date, 12th June 1908, is part of an inscription over the northern portal to the Rotherhithe tunnel to indicate the date the tunnel was opened. A similar inscription is above the southern portal. Photos show both portals.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 9/1/2014 5:05:30 AM
Waymark Code: WMMCNY
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member puczmeloun
Views: 1

Long Description:

The full inscription reads:

This tunnel constructed by the London County Council
was opened by HRH The Prince of Wales KG
on the 12th of June 1908

Maurice Fitzmaurice CMG Engineer

Unusually, pedestrians can walk through the tunnel as there are stairs leading down to the entrance and footpaths. Due to the current day concerns about pollution it may not be a wise choice! The entrance to the tunnel and the inscription can be seen from a safe location in St James's Gardens.

Wikopedia has an article about the tunnel that tells us:

The Rotherhithe Tunnel is a road tunnel under the River Thames in East London, connecting the Ratcliff district of Limehouse in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets north of the river to Rotherhithe in the London Borough of Southwark south of the river, designated the A101. It was formally opened in 1908 by George Prince of Wales (later King George V), and Richard Robinson, Chairman of the London County Council.

It should not be confused with the nearby earlier and much more historic Thames Tunnel, designed and built under the supervision of Marc Isambard Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel, used by London Overground for the East London Line.

Designed by Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, the Engineer to the London County Council, construction was authorised by the Thames Tunnel (Rotherhithe and Ratcliff) Act 1900 despite considerable opposition from local residents, nearly 3,000 of whom were displaced by the works.

The work took place between 1904 and 1908, executed by resident engineer Edward H. Tabor and contractors Price and Reeves, at a cost of about £1 million. The tunnel was excavated partly using a tunnelling shield and partly by cut-and-cover. The entrance arches are the cutting edges of the tunnelling shield, which measured 30 feet 8 inches (9.35 m) in diameter, forming in effect a loading gauge for the tunnel.

The tunnel consists of a single bore, 4,860 feet (1,481 m) long, carrying a two-lane carriageway 48 feet (14.5 m) below the high-water level of the Thames, with a maximum depth of 75 feet (23 m) below the surface. Four shafts were sunk alongside the tunnel to aid construction, later ventilation and entrance shafts. The two riverside shafts, red brick with stone dressings, had iron spiral staircases as pedestrian entrances. They are closed to the public (the roofs were damaged during WWII, and the iron staircases became dangerous), and the only entrances are the portals (the bases of the staircases can still be seen in the tunnel). Pedestrian and cycle access is permitted, but the distances involved for pedestrians increased significantly when the spiral staircases closed.

The tunnel is entered via a sloping brick-lined cutting at each end leading to the entrance portal, followed by a short cut-and-cover section until the first of the four shafts is reached. The tunneled section is between shafts 1 and 4, measures 3,689 feet (1,125 m) long and is lined with cast iron segments. At the time of its construction, the tunnel was said to be "the largest subaqueous tunnel in existence".

The tunnel was designed to serve foot and horse-drawn traffic between the docks on either side of the river. This accounts for some of its more unusual design features. The roadways are narrow, with each lane only some 8 feet (2.4 m) wide, and footpaths between 4 and 6 feet (1.2 to 2 m) wide on each side. The tunnel is shallow, with a maximum gradient of 1 in 36 (2.8%), to cater for non-mechanised traffic. It includes sharp, nearly right-angled bends at the points where it goes under the river bed. These served two purposes: avoiding the docks on each side of the river, and preventing horses from seeing daylight at the end of the tunnel too early, which might make them bolt for the exit.

This has made it difficult for vehicles to traverse the tunnel safely. Large vehicles cannot easily pass the sharp bends and are therefore banned. The speed limit is 20 miles per hour (32 km/h) and is enforced using average speed cameras. A 2003 survey rated the tunnel the tenth most dangerous tunnel in Europe due to its poor safety features. Its proximity to the river also makes it vulnerable to flooding, as happened in the 1928 Thames flood.

Like many other London tunnels and bridges, the tunnel carries far more traffic than it was designed for. It was well-used from the start, with 2,600 vehicles a day soon after it opened — a figure which was seen as easily justifying the expense of its construction. By 1955, usage had quadrupled to 10,500 vehicles a day and by 2005 usage had tripled again, to over 34,000 vehicles a day. The heavy usage, particularly during rush hours, can lead to significant congestion and tailbacks.

Alternative crossings include Tower Bridge to the west or the Greenwich foot tunnel to the east. Rotherhithe station is almost adjacent to the southern tunnel entrance, and Wapping is the closest station to the northern entrance in Limehouse.

Approximately 20 pedestrians use the tunnel per day. For safety, most cyclists ride along the footpaths on either side of the carriageway.

The Royal Family History website tells us about King George V - previously the Prince of Wales:

George V was the second son of Edward VII. His mother was Alexandra of Denmark, sister of Empress Marie of Russia. He joined the Royal Navy aged 12 and served until 1892 when he became heir to the throne on the death of his elder brother Albert, Duke of Clarence, who died of pneumonia.

In 1893, he married Princess Victoria Mary of Teck (known as ‘May’ to her family) who had previously been engaged to his brother. They became Duke and Duchess of York and lived on the Sandringham Estate, in Norfolk. The marriage was a success and George unlike his father never took a mistress. They had 6 children Edward, Albert, Mary, Henry, George and John. The youngest Prince John suffered from epilepsy and died aged 13.

He became King George V on the death of his father Edward VII in 1910, and Mary became Queen consort. They toured India in 1911 as Emperor and Empress of India. During World War I he made several visits to the front, and Mary visited wounded serviceman in hospital. She was staunch supporter of her husband during difficult times that included not only the war with Germany, but also the Russian revolution and murder of George’s cousin Princess Alix who was Tsarina Alexandra wife of Tsar Nicholas II, civil unrest including the General Strike in England, the rise of socialism, and Irish and Indian nationalism. George V has been criticised for not rescuing the Russian Royal family but at the time there was serious concern that it would incite a similar revolution in the UK. He sent a ship in 1922 to rescue the Greek Royal family including 1 year old Prince Philip now the Duke of Edinburgh.

In 1917 with anti-German sentiment running high, he changed the family name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (popularly known as Brunswick or Hanover) to Windsor, and he relinquished all German titles and family connections. George V enjoyed stamp collecting and although considered dull by biographers he became by his Silver Jubilee in 1935 a much loved King. In 1932 he started the tradition of the Royal Christmas broadcast which has continued ever since. His relationship deteriorated with this eldest son Edward (later Edward VIII) when he failed to settle down and had affairs with married women, but he was fond of his second son Albert (“Bertie” later George VI) and his granddaughter Elizabeth (later Elizabeth II) whom he called ‘Lilibet’. She called him ‘Grandpa England’. He died of pleurisy in January 1936.

What was opened/inaugurated?: The Rotherhithe Tunnel

Who was that opened/inaugurated it?: HRH The Prince of Wales - later King george V

Date of the opening/inauguration?: 12th June 1908

Website about the location: [Web Link]

Website about the person: [Web Link]

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