Greenwich Foot Tunnel
The Greenwich Foot Tunnel joins Cutty Sark Gardens in Greenwich and Island Gardens on the Isle of Dogs in Tower Hamlets. Its original purpose was to allow south London residents to work in the docks on the Isle of Dogs without having to make a large detour, and it's the only tunnel under the Thames built exclusively for the use of pedestrians. (What about the [Woolwich Foot Tunnel]? -- blech)
Until recently, it was still the only quick way to get from the Isle of Dogs to Greenwich. The DLR extension to [Lewisham]?, which opened in '99/'00, has reduced the need for the tunnel as a method of transport, but if you're ever going to Greenwich, it's nice to take the DLR one way and the foot tunnel the other.
- Designer: Sir Alexander Binnie
- Opened: 4 August 1902
- Cost: £127,000
- Size: 1,217 feet (371 metres) long
- Interior: lined with 200,000 glazed white tiles
A good example of how it looks and its scale can be seen on this page.
The circular entrance buildings, recognisable by their distinctive glass domed roofs, are the same on both sides of the river, and contain a manned lift and a long flight of stairs. It's a public highway, and thus open 24 hours a day, although the lifts do not always run the full time (see the timetable. It takes about ten minutes to walk down the tunnel; not recommended for claustrophobes. The northern end of the tunnel is particularly restricted by re-enforcing metal plates. At night it can be somewhat spooky, if you're spooked by strange empty silent places.
If you go down in the middle of the night, as I did recently, and stand in the exact centre of the tunnel - marked by a vertical seam of tiling on the wall - when it's completely empty, if you speak or whistle or make a noise, an echo comes back from both ends a whole second and a quarter later (by my inaccurate timing - pretty accurate given the speed of sound is about 300m/s - aegidian)! It's great.