The Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe, which tells the story of the world’s first underwater tunnel, has been awarded £1.85 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for an expansion project to tell more of the story of the Thames Tunnel.

The museum was granted planning permission to expand their buildings last December, with a new pavilion that will link its two existing buildings into one larger site. Currently split between two buildings, the old Engine House and the original Brunel Sinking Shaft, a new entrance pavilion, containing a café and shop will connect the two buildings via a covered courtyard.

Concept image of new layout (c) Tate Harmer

The larger museum will also be able to display the Thames Tunnel Archive for the first time. The archive is a collection of 30 watercolours that were painted by the Brunels throughout the Thames Tunnel project. They offer a unique insight into its creation. They were buried in a family album for almost 200 years but were acquired by the museum in 2017 and have been waiting to find their permanent home on the walls of the restored Engine House.

Katherine McAlpine from the Brunel Museum said: “We’re thrilled to have received this support from the Heritage Fund. Thanks to National Lottery players, we’re not only able to revolutionise the museum and its space but look at how we involve and interact with our local community and schools here in Southwark. Having this new space means that we can engage more with everyone and involve them in what the next 200 years will look like for us.

The three-year project aims to be completed by 2025 to coincide with the 200-year anniversary since work began on the Thames Tunnel.

The museum was opened in 1975, currently attracts around 35,000 visitors a year, and is entirely self-funded.

This article was published on ianVisits


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