Travel Back In Time To An Underground Victorian Fair

By Sponsor

Looks like this article is a bit old. Be aware that information may have changed since it was published.

Travel Back In Time To An Underground Victorian Fair

This is a sponsored article on behalf of The Brunel Museum.

Fancy a stroll through Victorian history? On Saturday 29 May and Sunday 30 May at The Brunel Museum, you're invited to explore the Rotherhithe of yore with the help of a life-size peep show.

Created by Central Saint Martins MA student Tara Corovic as part of her Walking Burnel project, this unique installation is inspired by the 'Fancy Fairs' once inside the Thames Tunnel, the triumph of civil engineering to which the Brunel Museum is dedicated.

Tara Corovic with a prototype of her installation

The Thames Tunnel was once dubbed the "eighth wonder of the world". But by the early 1850s, the shine had worn off the underground walkway that ran beneath the River Thames, connecting north and south London. When it opened almost a decade prior, it was lauded as the first successful crossing of its kind, but it had since developed a bit of a seedy reputation,  frequented by sex workers and their clients, as well as being a hotspot for pickpockets.

A rebrand was required and so, in 1952, the inaugural Fancy Fair took place. This magical subterranean celebration featured sword swallowers, tightrope artists, dancing horses and more and soon became an annual event.

The Thames Tunnel has been closed to pedestrians for over a century and a half but — with Walking Brunel — you can discover the magic of this short-lived underwater fairground for yourself.

Your journey begins with a 15 minute audio trail through the streets of Rotherhithe that feature AR technology. As you make your way from Canada Water through the Albion Tunnel, you'll be immersed in the Victorian delights of the fair, before finishing up at The Brunel Museum plateau, where Corovic's installation is waiting to be discovered.

The installation is totally free to visit, so why not combine it with a trip to The Brunel Museum itself? Admission costs just £6 per person (or £4 for kids) and includes a descent into the cavernous, Grade II-listed Thames Tunnel shaft. Don't forget to look out for the original paper peep shows that inspired Corovic's work while you're there!

The Brunel Museum. Open on Saturdays and Sunday, 12pm-4pm. Tickets £4-£6

Last Updated 26 May 2021