Historic SE1 - The Tower Hill Subway

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Saturday 4 March 2006 2.45am
During my current insomnia fuelled trip around the Internet I found something rather interesting that I thought I'd share with everyone seeing as one end of it is in SE1:

The Tower Hill Subway - "The Tower Subway is a tunnel beneath the River Thames in central London, close — as the name suggests — to the Tower of London. Its alignment runs between Tower Hill on the north side of the river and Vine Lane (off Tooley Street) to the south. It was the world's first underground tube railway, though not the first underground railway."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_Subway
http://fdelaitre.club.fr/Ths.htm

Related news & features

Saturday 4 March 2006 10.20am
Adam Hart-Davis visited the tunnel for his 'How London Was Built' series which went out on ITV London last year. It's now full of Cable & Wireless fibre-optic cables.

I think it was a co-production with either Sky Travel or the History Channel and may well be repeated on one of those channels.

The factsheet for the programme doesn't add much (anything) to the links above, but it's here (Word document)

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Saturday 4 March 2006 7.49pm
Is there anyone on the forum who remembers what sort of kiosk there was on the south side of the river???

James Hatts wrote:
The factsheet for the programme doesn't add much (anything) to the links above, but it's here (Word document)

IMHO it should be treated with extreme caution as downright misleading:

ITV "factsheet" wrote:
London Hydraulic Water Company

I suppose there might have been rival companies transporting ice or steam around the capital but it seems unlikely!!!

See this Subterranea Britannica article on the London Hydraulic Power Company for a few slightly better sourced facts



Edited 3 times. Last edit at 4 March 2006 8.02pm by Lang Rabbie.
Saturday 4 March 2006 8.22pm
The ITV text bears an uncanny resemblance to this BBC factsheet:

ITV wrote:
The tunnel was later used for many years by the London Hydraulic Water Company but today it is used to carry fibre optic cables underneath the Thames by Cable & Wireless. On Tower Hill the entrance kiosk is still there. The kiosk is not the original, but one built by the London Hydraulic Water Company in the 1920s. It is a circular brick building on Tower Hill near the ticket kiosk for the Tower.

BBC wrote:
The tunnel was later used for many years by the London Hydraulic Water Company but today it is used to carry fibre optic cables underneath the Thames. On Tower Hill the entrance kiosk is still there. The kiosk is not the original, but one built by the London Hydraulic Water Company in the 1920s. It is a circular brick building on Tower Hill near the ticket kiosk for the Tower.

There's a Google Earth overlay available here

Details and pictures of the south kiosk here:
Subterranea Britannica wrote:
The southern entrance is said to have been demolished in the 1990s. Roger Morgan recalls: "The original cast iron kiosk in Vine Street survived long enough for me to photograph it for a lecture series I gave in 1978. Subsequently the empty warehouse that it abutted mysteriously burnt down and the wall collapsed onto the kiosk, destroying it. Difficult to remember the date, but it must have been about mid 1980s I should think. There is of course a modern replacement still standing in the middle of the building site to the south of Ken's City Hall, and it appears from the published plans of the new 'More London' development that it will be incorporated inside one of the new office blocks."

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Saturday 4 March 2006 9.34pm
James Hatts wrote:

Details and pictures of the south kiosk here:

Thanks for that - obviously wasn't following the links!

I' m trying to work out whether the 1950s/1960s building in the background to the "ruins of warehouse and kiosk" photo is the building on the north side of Tooley Street that was occupied by St Martins Property as site offices until the early 1990s when they were still planning to develop the area themselves with the infamous "Piazza San Martino" scheme???
Sunday 5 March 2006 10.03am
I'm pretty certain that it is - the photo here (http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/sites/t/tower_subway/index3.shtml) shows a cold store in the background that is directly on the river front where Ken now has his Crystal Ball.

The Subterramea Britannica articles are much better than the other two.

If the tunnel is still being used by Cable & Wireless there must still be an entrance to it somewhere close to the original shaft.
Monday 6 March 2006 12.07am
Very interesting but very confusing. The text on the Subterranea Britannica site flips about from North to South of the river so that you dont know which one he's talking about. The dates are even more confusing (or is it me?). It talks about the kiosk surviving to the 80's or 90's, but the photo of the replacement kiosk is claimed to be approx 1985, whilst being labelled on it '1978'! I've read it seveal times and still dont get it.

The photo with the cold store with the kiosk on the left is very familiar to me, I used to wander around that area a lot in the early 80's when I first moved here, I loved the decayed character of the place, and used to spend hours sitting on the old pier (no longer there of course) jutting out by where Ken's testicle now is (anyone remember that? I think you had to climb through a hole in a chain link fence by Tower Bridge to get there, before the walkways were all built, then you could go along the riverbank and come out in Pickle Herring Lane). I dont remember the kiosk at all, but I do remember that street, its actually a view North not West as stated. I have some similar photos somewhere, I'll see if I can look them out, it'd be curious if the kiosk is in them as I had no idea about the tunnel then.
Thursday 15 April 2010 6.25pm
From the Thames Discovery Project Frog Blog:

http://www.thamesdiscovery.org/frog-blog/the-tower-subway

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Friday 16 April 2010 12.48am
The locally published book Subterranean Southwark by Christopher Jones (Past Tense Publications, 2003) has a chapter on The Tower Subway.

It's still available and there is a copy in the Southwark Local Studies Library behind the new John Harvard Library on The Borough.

http://www.subbrit.org.uk/rsg/books.html#SOUTHWARKReview and details of book
Saturday 24 April 2010 7.11am
I do remember my old grannie telling me about the subway under the Thames. She lived in Gibbons
Rents which is just off Tooley Street and used it when it was a pedestrian subway.
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