Bach Shafted!

Bach: St John Passion
Thames Tunnel Shaft, Rotherhithe.  11 April 2015.

This must be one of the most bizarre musical venues I have ever been in, and an extraordinary place to hear one of Bach’s most sacred works. Between 1825/43, Marc Isambard Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom constructed a tunnel under the Thames between Rotherhithe and Wapping, the first of its kind in the world. In order to construct the tunnel, they sank a 15m diameter shaft on the south side of the river in Rotherhithe. With the addition of stairs, this shaft later became the pedestrian entry to the tunnel, but was closed when the tunnel started taking trains rather than pedestrians. The Thames Tunnel is now an active part of London’sWP_20150411_19_23_30_Pro railway system, and the shaft has been re-opened with a concrete floor inserted to separate it from the trains below. It is currently only accessible by wriggling through a 1.3m high entrance and clambering about 12m down on some rickety scaffolding stairs. Continue reading