Greenwich Foot Tunnel
Probably the most well-known of all the foot tunnels under the Thames, Greenwich Foot Tunnel was opened in 1902, built to connect the Isle of Dogs to Greenwich after commuter demand caused overcrowding of ferries. It was the third, but ultimately most successful, pedestrian route beneath the river – Brunel’s Thames Tunnel from the 1840s became a railway tunnel in the 1860s, and the Tower Subway, used as a foot tunnel from the 1870s to 1890s, closed to the public shortly after the construction of the neighbouring Tower Bridge.
I remember walking through the tunnel as a child, and revisiting it recently was a strange experience – it seemed a lot narrower and shorter than I recalled! The tunnel is lined with slightly damp and echo-inducing old white tiles, with blue-lit, wood panelled lifts and metal spiral staircases at either end. Flashing signs state “no cycling” – which most cyclists do of course ignore. The tunnel is narrower towards the north end, where the tiles are replaced with steel rings – put in place after damage in the Second World War.
The tunnel entrances can be easily found on the surface close to Cutty Sark and Island Gardens DLR stations – look out for the fancy buildings with their glass-domed tops!