May 16, 2008

Big Engineering projects - the London to New York transatlantic tunnel

Big Engineering projects fascinate me. I had written earlier about The Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel (also here) which runs from California to just south of New York City. Construction on this was begun in 1913 and it was originally designed for mail transport. Today, I ran into the story of another tunnel -- this one even more ambitious -- running from London, England to near the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC. The construction on this tunnel pre-dates the Alameda-Weehawken Tunnel by 30 years and this tunnel is one hundred years old this May. A curious feature is the optical Telectroscope which allows people on each end to stand face to face with their counterpart on the other end. A telegraph (now telephone) links the two ends. The London - New York tunnel was built by famous Victorian engineer Alexander Stanhope St George. It had fallen out of use (the Telectroscope was never completed satisfactorily) and his grandson, Paul St George has taken over and is planning to open it to the public, more as a museum piece and Victorian curiosity than as the original vision of a communications tool. From the UK Tiscali News:
100-year old Transatlantic engineering project nears completion
A long-forgotten tunnel connecting London and New York is due to be re-opened this summer.

Artist and inventor Paul St George has announced his plans to complete a fascinating engineering project started by his great grandfather, Alexander Stanhope St George, more than a century ago.

Using maps and drawings handed down through family, Mr St George has tracked down the location of the original excavation and is now finishing the drilling project that will complete a massive tunnel connecting London to New York.

He plans to use the tunnel to fulfill another part of his ancestor’s dream: to build and open a Telectroscope - a late Victorian optical device designed to allow people on one side of the Atlantic to see, in real time, those people on the other side.

"Several people throughout the 1890s claimed to have invented the Telectroscope, but nobody ever built one," says Paul St George. "I can now prove that my great grandfather was the only person with a workable plan - and finally I am in a position to turn that plan into a reality."

"Alexander Stanhope St George was not a dreamer, but an engineer with a practical and achievable vision."

The tunnel is expected to be completed by the end of May 2008. Telectroscopes will be installed at either end later in the summer.

Mr St George refused to confirm the exact locations in London and New York where the Telectroscopes will be sited, but it is rumoured that they may be situated near Tower Bridge in London and Brooklyn Bridge in New York.
The main website for Paul St George is here: The Telectroscope It's fascinating to learn what our ancestors were able to do without all of our modern gadgets... Posted by DaveH at May 16, 2008 8:33 PM | TrackBack
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