Once known as the eighth wonder of the world the Thames Tunnel designed by one of Britain’s most famous engineers, Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel was famous for being the first tunnel built below a navigable waterway and quickly became a popular public attraction. Although the Tunnel was designed to move cargo across the river Thames without disrupting the sailing merchant ships, when it was opened in 1843 it was for pedestrian use only. The 18-year-long project had run over budget and they could not afford to build the ramps to get cargo in to the tunnel. The Brunel Engine House was built to hold steam-powered pumps used to extract water from the Thames Tunnel and since 1961 has housed the Brunel Museum. The Museum is a celebration of Brunel’s engineering triumphs, and displays a collection of prints, original artefacts and film all detailing the story of Brunel’s first (Thames Tunnel) and last (Great Eastern) projects. In 2007 major renovations took place with the access shaft in to the tunnel capped with concrete to allow use of this space. The re-opening to the public took place on Valentines’ Day in 2010 where it was launched as the ‘Tunnel of Love.’ In recognition of Brunel hosting the world’s first underground concert party here in 1827, the Museum is also a celebration of music as well as engineering.
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