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15 August 2010

Find the Tower Subway Entrance

Nestled amongst the incessant throngs of tourists, gift shops and fast food restaurants beside the Tower of London is a small round building, which marks an entrance to the Tower Subway tunnel, beneath the Thames. Constructed in 1869, it is sometimes claimed that this was the world's first underground tube railway (as opposed to parts of the Underground network which were already in existence, which used the 'cut and cover' method). The tube, which is seven feet in diameter, linked Tower Hill with Vine Lane, off Tooley Street, just behind the South Bank.

Originally, the Subway shuttled passengers across the river using 12-passenger small cable car, powered by a stationary steam engine on the south side of the tunnel. However, this took about 70 seconds and was very cramped, and the uneconomical service only lasted from opening in August 1870, until the Tower Subway went into receivership in November 1870.

The tunnel was then converted to a pedestrian walkway, which was more successful, but when Tower Bridge opened, in 1894, this became largely redundant. The Tunnel finally closed in 1898, having been sold to the London Hydraulic Power Company in 1897, in order to carry pipes and water mains across the river. The tunnel was slightly damaged by a Second World War Bomb, it is still intact. The entrance shown above is not an original one, but still provides an entrance to the tunnel today.

For more, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_Subway

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