This is a sponsored article on behalf of The Brunel Museum.
An ambitious dream, two great engineers, and one long, dark — and sometimes deadly — subterranean passage. This is the story of the Thames Tunnel, and every weekend from Saturday 22 May you can discover it for yourself at what might be London's most delightfully unusual museum.
After months of closure due to the national lockdown, The Brunel Museum is almost ready to reopen its doors and bring you closer to what was once dubbed the "eighth wonder of the world".
Situated in Rotherhithe, The Brunel Museum occupies the site where Marc Brunel and Isambard Kingdom Brunel's historic engineering project took shape. In 1825, the pioneering father-son duo set out to connect the north and south banks of the Thames by building a pedestrian crossing that ran all the way under the river — the first in the world of its kind.
Construction took a gruelling 18 years but the result was a genuine triumph of civil engineering, but one that is all too often forgotten today; the Thames Tunnel was open to the public for just a couple of decades before it was converted into a railway tunnel.
Luckily, The Brunel Museum is here to keep the legacy of the Thames Tunnel alive, via its collection of prints watercolours, statues, peepshows and models that are housed inside the original Engine House, which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument in its own right.
Discover how Marc Brunel's innovative tunnelling shield design revolutionised civil engineering, creating a blueprint that's used to this very day. Learn just how hazardous working conditions inside the tunnel were, and find out how the younger Brunel narrowly avoided death in a tragedy that claimed the lives of six workers.
As well as the Engine House, you're also invited to explore the grand entrance hall of the tunnel itself, with tickets including a descent into the cavernous Grade II listed tunnel shaft; a 50 foot-deep structure that provides an awe-inspiring glimpse at London's industrial heritage.
Entrance to the tunnel shaft is included with admission which at just £6 per person makes for a fantastically thrifty day out.
The Brunel Museum will initially open during weekends — making it a cracking choice for families. The museum also boasts a brick-paved piazza and several gorgeously secluded green spaces, so you can really make a day of it. For the grown-ups, there's also a rather lovely al fresco cocktail bar, which serves up magical concoctions using ingredients foraged from the museum gardens.
All images © Rachel Ferriman Photography.