Monday, 28 June 2010

Crossings of the River Thames 31: The Greenwich Foot Tunnel

(To be written as a homage to Sammuel Peeps, Robert Louis Stevenson and Victorian Explorers who lorded it over 'the natives'.)

---

It was with much trepidation that I walked off the light railway at the bottom of the Isle of Dogs and begun what was to be a most splendid journey into the heart of the subterranean! Vast crowds had gathered opposite what will soon be crowned Her Majesty's third Royal Borough in the capital of this Kingdom that is inhabited by the most gracious people known to humanity itself, in order to enjoy what was a most invigorating day with regards to both climate and peace within the air!

And yes, that was my destination. Across the fair waters of ye olde Thames-ee, lay the splendor of Greenwich herself. The most remarkable of suburbs that lie to the south of this wonderful waterway that splits this most marvelous city into two distinct parts like a knife to the orchard's fruit. Viz!



So onward I trod, to the vast dome that was to be my entrance to this, the latest crossing point of the River Thames-ee. The Greenwich Foot Tunnel, today a small link amongst the many that traverse the river, has a remarkable history. Built with skill and ingenuity, it was constructed nigh on 108 years previously, and replaced what was a stinking ferry service. Constructed to allow the masses to cross the river safely and with speed, it facilitated the growth of the docks by allowing workers from both sides of the Thames-ee to be able to pass freely to their intended destination of employment. A most gratifying use of labour and resources!



While walking through the tunnel, one may become disorientated with the cold air that will strike one's face while traversing its length. The depth, the weight of water above the construction plus the rather well known fact that only humans are keeping the air warm at this level below the surface. So unlike the other hot and undesirable underground journeys normally experienced by your intrepid reporter, this particular foray into the wilds of South East London Viz. felt refreshing from the blasting overhead ball of flame in the southern sky that lit up the day like a shining ball from Apollo himself!

Due to its importance and position within the city, this tunnel remains open, 24 hours a day. However, with the repairs to this now ancient structure now taking place, there are closures at various times of the day. With notification being provided by the local aldermen, a ferry is now in service at the less congested times of the night in order to facilitate the motion of souls at this crossing point of the Thames. Here is an example of how and why this particular structure will require attention and detail in order to preserve the remarkable construction that it now is.



(Bomb damage during the conflict of WWII which was handily repaired!)

Please note the pavement markings during your crossing of the river at this point. The tunnel itself is a most popular way of travel and so in order to facilitate ease amongst the citizenship, nobility and gentry of the Metropolis, the direction of travel should be taken whereby the lining of the tunnel should remain as close to your left hand shoulder as is humanly possible!



One must note that while lifts do exist, during this time, the tunnel may not be fully accessible to all due to the repairs that are being occasioned by the workmen and labourers on scene. Hence there are also spiral staircases in order to allow access to the tunnel for those who depend on two legs rather than wheels. Never fear however, as the lifts are also being restored as part of the repairs to this most fantastic of structures!




---

Getting there an away:

For travelers approaching the northern porthole, one must use Island Gardens (DLR) or Omnibuses 135, D3, D7 and N550.

For those approaching this porthole on the River's southern shores:



One can utilise the station at Cutty Sark, also on the Docklands Light Railway. Otherwise, the following omnibuses: 129, 177, 180, 188 (24 Hours), 199, 286, 386 and N1 are available to transport the common folk to the tunnel itself!

No comments: