The Brunel Museum
The Brunel Museum in historic Rotherhithe is directly above the Thames Tunnel which opened 170 years ago in March this year. This is where Isambard Kingdom Brunel began his extraordinary career, aged nineteen years. Working with his father Sir Marc Brunel, he helped build the first tunnel under a river anywhere in the world.
The Museum is open from 10:00 to 17:00 seven days a week, with regular late night openings. The collection is small, but the award winning display and busy programme tell a big story: the birth of mass urban transport. There is a busy programme of concerts, heritage walks, lectures, river trips and garden events with the Midnight Apothecary. Details can be found below and by visiting the Events page.
The Grand Entrance Hall, where young Brunel nearly drowned, has been opened up for the first time. In this anniversary year, the Museum launches a campaign to fit out the huge underground chamber as a performance space. There are guided descents three times a week and on advertised days (see below) and intrepid visitors enter by narrow doorway and temporary staircase into the secret chamber. The Museum can also be for booked for society visits and private events.
Guided walking tours – Tuesdays 18.15 and Sundays 10.45
Guided boat tours: Saturdays 10.45
Meet your guide at Embankment tube station (not pier) for a boat and train journey viewing Brunel sites along the Thames, then a descent into the underground chamber. No booking required. More details.
Midnight Apothecary Bonanza! Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons
Great news for cocktail lovers……Midnight Apothecary is back! A new development this year is Sunday afternoon Apothecary. More details.
Thames Tunnel 170th anniversary celebrations
In 1843 ten thousand visitors filed down the staircase every hour into the Tunnel. This year and right through the year in 2013 there will be special events, concerts and entertainments to celebrate the anniversary. Guided descents of the Grand Entrance Hall, boat tours and Sunday walks along the river from Bermondsey will be followed later in the year by a Victorian fair and walks through the Tunnel. Find out more.
World Music Season from Thursday 20th June
A new season of concerts starts with the London Klezmer Quartet on 20th June and continues throughout the summer. More details
Different Trains, Distant Memories: Sunday 23rd June 6pm
Hahahopscotch – Sunday 7th July
The Gallery Singers – Tuesday 9th July
An evening concert by chamber group the Gallery Singers. More details
Pop-up Opera – 20th July
Initiation – 26th July
The Museum is a Scheduled Ancient Monument on an International Landmark Site and the Thames Tunnel is the oldest tunnel in the oldest metro system in the World.
A few hundred yards down the River Thames are the launch ramps of the Great Eastern, next to Masthouse Terrace and accessible by Thames Clipper. This mighty ship, sometimes called Leviathan or sea monster, was IK Brunel’s last project, and for fifty years it was the biggest ship in the world.
There is more Brunel in London than in Bristol. Near Rotherhithe is the slipway where the Great Eastern was launched, and upriver from the Museum are Isambard’s Hungerford Bridge and also Tower Bridge which Isambard’s son Henry worked on as a structural engineer. A little further south is Crystal Palace where Isambard built the water towers and in West London is Isambard’s famous creation – Paddington Station, terminus for the Great Western Railway.
The Brunel Museum sits in award winning gardens and houses an exhibition about the Thames Tunnel and the Great Eastern. The museum has a bookshop and café serving savoury snacks, coffee and home-made cakes.
The Museum hosts special events and corporate entertainments including book launches, company Awaydays and other functions.
The Museum is an important resource for the local community, running playschemes in the summer holidays and welcoming primary and secondary school groups through the year. In the evenings there are community events and the Museum also provides visiting speakers to organisations throughout London.