#871: Walking Under Water

Greenwich Foot Tunnel Building
Greenwich side entrance to the foot tunnel.

It’s not often that you get to go under water without getting wet, so perhaps it’s no surprise that this Victorian-era curiosity ended up in the 1,000 Things guide.

Construction started in 1899, and the tunnel opened three years later to replace the expensive and unreliable ferry service that took workers from the south side of the River Thames to London’s docklands. (No, I’m not talking about today’s River Boat services — even though reliability has improved, the expense is still questionable.)

#871: Walk under the Thames.

Greenwich Foot Tunnel

The journey through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel is just under a quarter of a mile long, and you’re surrounded by nearly 200,000 white tiles. In the north end of the tunnel, you get to see its innards where the structure was damaged by bombs in World War II.

WWII Greenwich Foot Tunnel

The tunnel and its ground-level buildings have been under renovation since 2010, which was supposed to finish a year later but have now been extended into 2014. The new glass-plated elevators look a little out of place at the tunnel’s ends, and it’s obvious that the tunnel still desperately needs some TLC. If only someone could throw £11 million more at this project to get a glass roof over the top so you could really feel like you were walking under the river.


Of course, you wouldn’t go to Greenwich for the foot tunnel alone, but it’s a pleasant walk from the Island Gardens DLR station…

View of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel building from Island Gardens.

… through the century-old echoing tiled tunnel …


… popping out near the Cutty Sark on the other side of the Thames …

View of the Island Gardens side of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel.

… and then a leisurely meander through Greenwich Market, the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich Park and the Royal Observatory, where you can take a rest and enjoy the view above the river.

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