Portal to the Tower Subway under the Thames. This pioneering tunnel has been out of pedestrian service for many decades, being in use for utilities — water pipes and telecom cables. Beginning in 1868, a tunnel was dug from close to the Tower of London to the right bank. A cable-hauled narrow-gauge railway opened in 1870, about the same time as the Brunels’ Thames Tunnel was first used for an under-Thames railway. It was abandoned for its original purpose after Tower Bridge was opened nearby. This portal is the one rebuilt in the 1920s by the utility companies. Nicholas Bentley, who includes a contemporary engraving of the tunnel in The Victorian Scene (1971), explains that "it runs a quarter of a mile beneath the Thames between Tower Hill and Bermondsey. Built to reduce pedestrian traffic jams, its construction in the 'seventies was considered as a miracle of engineering" (19).

Photograph by Colin Price and commentary by Price and George Landow. You may use the image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or to the Victorian Web in a print document. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

We would like to thank Dr Galen Royer Frysinger of DrGalenRoyerFrysinger.com, who provided the earlier image on this page from his own extensive website of travel photographs.

Link to related material


Bentley, Nicholas. The Victorian Scene: A Picture Book of the Period 1837-1901. London: Spring Books, 1971.

Created 18 February 2008

Last modified 5 April 2022