Director’s Diary: A Nineteenth Century Blockbuster

25th March 1843
 
On this day a hundred and seventy five years ago,  the Thames Tunnel admitted its first penny-paying pedestrian. A block buster event, but do also take a look at the new museum Being Brunel in Bristol and the new exhibition on Tunnels at London Transport Museum, Covent Garden.
Marc Brunel had objected to the Thames Tunnel opening on this day, as it was a Saturday and ‘Saturday night is the most disorderly time of the whole week’, but he was overruled by the directors. Early on that morning the visitors began to arrive in Rotherhithe, on foot, by coach , on horseback and by boat. A printing press had been lowered into the tunnel and The Royal Thames Tunnel Paper was being turned out for sale.  By early afternoon, the crowds could be held back no longer and they stampeded down the spiral stairways, long before the official opening. At 4 o’clock the cannon wererfiring  and the band of the Fusilier Guards struck up See the Conquering Hero Comes! The guests, led by Marc and his directors entered the shaft and descended down to the tunnel, walked to Wapping, then descended again and returned to Rotherhithe. At six o’ clock the public were officially admitted, and in its first twenty-four hours 50,000 people had paid to enter. The following weekend – Easter – the crowds were unmanageable, with over 10,000 people an hour coming into the tunnel. By 11th July – fifteen weeks and three days since opening — the total number of pedestrians reached one million.  
The calendar for the week is below. The Museum will be open as usual over the Easter weekend, and as always heritage boat tours and river walks every day. After Easter our holiday activities start – making sessions, bridge building and quizzes each day – details to follow. 
Sunday 25th Mar
10.40 heritage boat trip from Embankment tube offered in partnership with London Walks
10.40 riverside walk from Bermondsey tube offered in partnership with London Walks
Monday 26th Mar
10.40 riverside walk from Bermondsey tube offered in partnership with London Walks
Tuesday 27th Mar
10.40 riverside walk from Bermondsey tube offered in partnership with London Walks  
Wednesday 28th Mar
10.40 heritage boat trip from Embankment tube offered in partnership with London Walks
12.15 Visit of Brunel GmbH
18.15 riverside walk from Bermondsey tube offered in partnership with London Walks
 
Thursday 29th Mar 
10.40 heritage boat trip from Embankment tube offered in partnership with London Walks
18.00 Secret Adventures in Film with cocktails and warming drinks in Grand Entrance Hall
Friday 30th Mar
10.40 heritage boat trip from Embankment tube offered in partnership with London Walks

Saturday 31st Mar
10.40 heritage boat trip from Embankment tube offered in partnership with London Walks