I agree with Gavin, we read about this local event in the Evening Standard last week. Mr N and Miss N had a wander down on saturday and as they expected it was a ticket only event which had already been taken up.
I agree with the other comments about the advertising - I live in SE16 and only found out about this in Friday's Evening Standard. If I'd known, I would have taken Friday off work to do this tour. It was always going to be very popular, especially on Saturday (even if it had rained). One would have thought that selling tickets locally (only), say at the Brunel Pumphouse, would have been a good way of limiting the attendance and ensuring local people had a chance.
I guess that the tracks have not yet been laid but this will be done very soon for a July opening, in which case this event won't happen again in my lifetime.
Overall, a great idea and well done for doing it at all, but there are so many disappointed people because of it!
I can't comment on the publicity plan as I am only a humble volunteer tour guide although I personally was only told about it a fortnight beforehand. I did my best to put the information on to the website as quickly as I recieved it.
Apart from a normal day's opening of the museum the only thing we provided were the volunteer tour guides, everything else was handled by the events company on behalf of GLA/TfL/London Overground. The very helpful tour stewards were volunteers from TfL and London Overground. The above is not to pass the buck - I simply don't know.
In answer to the question on rails the trackwork was all in place when we were doing the tours, indeed the London Overground are busy running test trains which had been stopped for the two days of tours.
Instead of the previous four rail system (London Underground) there is now a third rail system. That worked well for us as the four feet between the running rails (4' 8.5" for the confessed anoraks amongst us - me included) was then clear to walk through. Scaffold platforms had been erected so we could step over various bits of signalling equipment that lie between the rails (TPWS for aforemnetioned anoraks).
The fact is if the publicity had been done further in advance across all media we would of still only had the same ammount of tickets to sell and would probably of ended up with an even longer list of disappointed people. Ultimatley the restriction was the number of people we could get through the tunnels in the two days.
I like the idea of ring fencing tickets for locals but that then brings additional problems of how far away is local and how do you get them to prove it when buying tickets.
I was lucky enough to get some tickets for the saturday evening tour, as I called the london transport museum as soon as I saw it on twitter (I didn't really know what was involved at that point, just took a punt). It was a very interesting tour and that aspect of it was really well organised. (I was pleased to see the inside of Wapping Station, as I lived there for a year and never got to see it as it was closed the whole time.)
There were people on our tour who seemed to have come from far and wide - at least half the group were engineering/train nuts asking loads of complicated questions of the guides.
On the organising side, I can understand that it was quickly done and the interest was a bit overwhelming, but even just while I was waiting there were quite a few angry people who had mistakenly bought fair tickets thinking they were tour tickets, and I think I would have been annoyed as well had I paid for the fair, as it was very small and quiet when we were there (admittedly after our 7.30 tour).
to pick up a few points here - trains start running properly (ie open to paying customers) on the East London line, from New Cross Gate, to Dalston Junction, on April 4th (Easter Sunday) - they will then be linked into the overground network south of NCG as of May 22nd (when the network rail timetable changes), and trains will go all the way south to Croydon. Trains will travel further north than Dalston as of sometime next summer (2011). yes tracks are laid already (and live, and have been running trials since January!).
[edit to have a rant at grammatical error!]
would have, could have, should have paid attention at school! grrr.
Bryan - I think you might have been the guide on the 6pm tour on Saturday. If so - job well done. I had a fantastic time. My friends are now quite bored with all the photos I took and the interesting facts I am now a mine of information for.
My only comment would be that if you were to run this again (academic I know) that there should be an age limit on people attending - i.e. no one younger than 16. We had a young girl on our group (she looked about 12) who was obviously bored out of her brain, talked through the speeches from the guide making it hard for those of us at the back to hear and them promptly kept dropping her camera.
Setting all that aside (fyi - I also heard about it on twitter) I'm so pleased I had the opportunity. It really felt like a once in a lifetime experience and I am in awe of the achievement. I don't think its an exaggeration to call it the 8th Wonder.
Any chance of some photos please, taken by those lucky enough to get tickets so we can see what we missed!
No use posting anything on Twitter, as I hardly check my mobile for texts or calls, let alone to sign up for Twitter. I rely on Whats on to see what events are happening in the Se1 Area, Rotherhithe is just a hop and a skip away!
Yes it was I on the 18:00 Saturday tour, I also had my parents down from Liverpool in the group as well. Thanks for saying you enjoyed it. On a later tour I had Lord Gladwin, Isambard Kingdom Brunel's great, great, grandson so no pressure to get your facts right there then!
When the tickets first went on sale they were for five and over, very quickly the London Transport Museum realised they had made a mistake and upped the age to 16 plus but they said they would honour the tickets that had already been sold.
The mistake was not corrected before I bought a ticket for my daughter. When she came through on the 21:00 tour I reckon, at five years old, she became the youngest person to walk through the tunnel in 145 years.
If anything like this were ever to happen again I would suggest having the age limit as young as possible. Of course some of them are going to be bored by it but others will be inspired by it and that is half the job of a tour guide - to make people want to go and find out more. In the past I have adults on tours showing total disdain to the point were you wonder why the bothered turning up. The Thames Tunnel walk through was different as pretty much everyone was chomping at the bit to get down there and enjoy the experience.
There are a couple of pictures, including my daughter, on the Brunel Museum website. When I upload some more over the next day or so I will post here again to say so as I am currently doing a big revamp of the site so you may well find incomplete pages as you navigate around the site at the moment.
If, and that is a pretty unlikely if, there is ever anything like this again I will post on here as soon as I find out.