Monday Miscellanea

Dave Haste
By Dave Haste Last edited 119 months ago
Monday Miscellanea
Tunnel shield

This Week In London’s History

  • Monday13th August 1977: Hundreds of protesters clash with police at a National Front march in Lewisham, south-east London. About 400 Socialist Worker Party members had gathered to try to prevent the National Front march, but had been prevented by police, leading to attacks on the police themselves and over 200 arrests.
  • Tuesday14th August 1821: The funeral procession of Queen Caroline, wife of George IV, makes its way through London en-route to Harwich and a ship that would carry her body to Germany for burial. The originally prescribed route had deliberately avoided central London, but huge numbers of demonstrators had blocked all other viable routes and forced the procession to travel through the City. During the subsequent disturbances and rioting as crowds attempt to re-route the procession, many soldiers and civilians are hurt, and two are killed. Wednesday15th August 1950: Princess Elizabeth (as she was known at the time) gives birth to her second child, Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise (Princess Anne, who would become the Princess Royal) at Clarence House in central London. Thursday16th August 2001: Princess Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell, is charged with theft from her estate at West End Central police station. Amidst some controversy, the subsequent trial would later collapse as the Queen recalls a conversation suggesting that Burrell was merely ‘storing’ Princess Diana’s belongings. Friday17th August 1896: A woman named Bridget Driscoll becomes what is reported to be the first ever pedestrian to be killed by a motorcar, in Crystal Palace, south-east London. Witnesses later describe the car as travelling at “a reckless pace” when it hit Mrs Driscoll. It would later transpire that the car was travelling at 4 mph.

    Random London Fact Of The Week

    The tunnel that the East London Line currently uses to pass under the Thames is known, rather uninventively, as the Thames Tunnel. However, the tunnel’s unoriginal name belies its origins – it was the world’s first ever underwater tunnel.

    Designed by Marc Isambard Brunel (father of Isambard Kindgon Brunel) in 1823, it took more than 15 years to construct. Occasional flooding and methane explosions made the tunnel’s construction a risky operation, causing the death of several workers. However, despite the project’s fatalities and huge costs, the tunnel was hailed as the “eighth wonder of the world” when it opened, thanks in part to the innovative use of a ‘tunnel shield’ to enable its construction, which was described by the Illustrated London News thus:

    The mode in which this great excavation was accomplished was by means of a powerful apparatus termed a shield, consisting of twelve great frames, lying close to each other like as many volumes on the shelf of a book-case, and divided into three stages or stories, thus presenting 36 chambers of cells, each for one workman, and open to the rear, but closed in the front with moveable boards. The front was placed against the earth to be removed, and the workman, having removed one board, excavated the earth behind it to the depth directed, and placed the board against the new surface exposed. The board was then in advance of the cell, and was kept in its place by props; and having thus proceeded with all the boards, each cell was advanced by two screws, one at its head and the other at its foot, which, resting against the finished brickwork and turned, impelled it forward into the vacant space. The other set of divisions then advanced. As the miners worked at one end of the cell, so the bricklayers formed at the other the top, sides and bottom.

    London’s Weather This Week

    By all accounts, the sunshine will be interrupted by plenty of rain at some point this week. The forecasters can’t quite agree when it will come, but they seem to think that it will be quite heavy when it does arrive. On the positive side – a hosepipe ban is looking unlikely.

    Last Updated 13 August 2007