News

Stay in the loop and go behind the scenes at the museum, with articles by our director, learning manager and volunteers, there is never a dull moment.

Changing Plans

The Thames Tunnel as built differs from the original ideas set forward by Marc Brunel in 1818. The original design for the tunnel shield changed from a circular shape to an oblong, and from an initial thirty-three individual worker cells to thirty-six. The hydraulic jacks that Marc originally envisaged were replaced by screw jacks, which […]

Read More

Our Volunteers and Our Mission – What Would You Like From Us?

Whilst we cannot physically open the museum, our volunteers are still working hard to fulfil the mission of the museum: To preserve and share widely the ground-breaking stories of the Thames Tunnel project and the outstanding achievements of the Brunel family and their relevance to our lives today. We inspire communities through exploration, learning and […]

Read More

Amazon Smile – Support the Museum for Free!

Are you shopping online a bit more rather than heading to the high street? Did you know that you can donate to us at zero cost to yourself? If you shop on Amazon, just access it via this link: https://smile.amazon.co.uk/ch/1003287-0 The Brunel Museum This will not change your Amazon experience or the prices that you […]

Read More

Opening crowd

Difficult as it may currently be to imagine happily joining a crowd, that is what I am asking you to envision: On Saturday 25th March 1843, the Thames Tunnel finally opened, eighteen years after the start of the project. Visitors eagerly arrived in Rotherhithe on foot, coach, horseback or by boat. A printing press had […]

Read More

Do You Have Any Brunel Memorabilia?

We know that many of our visitors are Brunel enthusiasts and have collected or inherited various wonderful items. This gem is from the collection of volunteer Gill Howard. What treasures of Brunel memorabilia have you collected? Brunel’s Own Copy of An Explanation of the Works of the Tunnel Under the Thames from Rotherhithe to Wapping […]

Read More

A small museum in Rotherhithe with a very big story!

The Brunel Museum is in the Engine House on the site where Marc Brunel’s world famous 1843 Thames Tunnel was created.  Arising from COVID-19 and the ensuing government guidance, the Museum’s doors have had to close and the impact of the loss of income is significant  – and will be for many months to come. […]

Read More

Working at the Face – Inspiration

To construct the Thames Tunnel, Marc Brunel built the first ever “travelling shield”. Made of iron and weighing more than seven tons, it contained 36 adjacent cells all of which contained a miner working independently. The design for the shield was inspired by Marc’s observation of the shipworm “teredo navalis”, which excretes digested wood to […]

Read More

Pioneer of Prefabrication – Brunel’s Hospital at Renkioi

Would you believe that our hero Isambard Kingdom Brunel was a pioneer of prefabrication?

Doesn’t sound Victorian-style but in times of national crisis some extraordinary things can be achieved. We have recently been amazed by the speed of the herculean task of turning conference centres such as Excel into fully functioning hospitals for high-risk patients.  In 1855 Isambard Kingdom Brunel was set a similarly daunting task. To design and create a state of the art modular hospital that could be produced in the UK and then transported and erected on an unknown site in a war zone thousands of miles away. He achieved the entire project in 5 months, here is the story:-

Read More

Happy East London Line Day!

What is your favourite train-related fact? For us, it has to be that the Thames Tunnel is the oldest structure on the oldest underground network in the world! Originally built for horses and carts, it was opened as a foot tunnel and tourist attraction in 1843. By the end of the 1860s it had been […]

Read More

Digging the Tunnel

Thirty-six miners stood in individual cells inside the Tunnelling Shield. They faced a wall of wooden planks held in place by iron rods and butted up against the soil. Each miner would remove one plank at a time and dig away the soil to a depth of four inches. Then, replacing that plank he would […]

Read More