Photo / steve_w
The tunnels, which have linked the north and south banks in subaqueous harmony since the early years of the 20th century, are (as any visitor will attest) a tad on the gloomy, even foreboding, side. The refurb will install CCTV (naturally), spruce up the rotunda that stand at either end, replace the lift machinery, and introduce fancy new lighting that will allow "coloured washes of light to bounce off the thousands of original glazed white tiles lining the tunnels".
The report in Building Design magazine notes that these "magnificent feats of Edwardian engineering" are "run down, dark and unwelcoming, and in some places also leaking", and well overdue a makeover. Yet that's long been part of their appeal: beneath the buffed steel of the DLR and the tourist-friendly vales of Greenwich lies a reminder of the engineering feats our Victorian forebears wrought. Dragging them up to 20th century standards may make them more palatable to casual visitors, but at the loss of a link to the dirt, squalor, and palpable danger that made tunnelling's earliest years so interesting.
The work should be complete by March 2011.