Underground, Overground

Passing through Greenwich Market the other day, I stumbled upon this nineteenth century print of Marc Brunel’s Thames Tunnel (Into the Void). It shows, in charmingly peculiar perspective, the tunnel ‘as it appeared when originally opened for traffic’: a popular destination for well-to-do Victorian pedestrians. That was before it became a dark, dank den of vice and iniquity and was eventually handed to the East London Railway in 1869.

Much has changed above ground since then. The tall smoking chimneys are long gone with the last of London’s coal-fuelled industry. Where ships used to gather to unload their cargos at the busy dock, the river is now empty but for the occasional Thames Clipper. The tunnel, though, remains. It serves today as a conduit for London Overground trains between Wapping and Rotherhithe.