This is probably more the remit of The Greenwich Phantom, but as part of the Greenwich foot tunnel lies on MY side of the river, and this concerns a particular bugbear of mine, I shall talk about it.

The tunnel, for those who are not familiar with it is a 100 year old tunnel under the river linking Greenwich to the Isle of Dogs, and has lifts/stairs at each end.

greenwichfoottunnel

I rarely take the lift down on the north side, as that seems a bit lazy, but occasionally I treat myself – and a while ago noticed in passing that a Health and Safety notice in the lift had been amended to state that photography was banned in the tunnel.

Thinking about it, I was sure there was a ban on flash photography, but now it seems to have been recently changed to a complete ban on all photography. Today though, the southern lift on the Greenwich side was actually working for once – although the operator in the lift was on the phone to someone and it seemed it was about to be turned off again.

Inside was a large, newish looking sign warning that photography is banned – but the health & safety sign was still unedited, and my suspicions were proved correct. The original sign only banned flash photography!

For some reason, over the past few months someone has decided that an existing (if dubious) ban on flash photography for health and safety reasons has to be expanded to a complete ban on all photography in the tunnel.

I’ve always been curious about the ban on flash photography as this is just a foot tunnel and hardly likely to cause anything more serious than a bit of annoyance to fellow walkers – and a lot less annoyance than screaming kids – but a total ban on all photography?

I use the tunnel a lot, and people are always taking photos down there without people dying or getting injured. An artist at the local market even sells rather somewhat arty photos of the tunnel.

What dire calamity has befallen the tunnel in the past few months that caused the H&S nazis to immediately clamp down on photography in the tunnel to prevent repeat of this mystery disaster?

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15 Comments

  1. Andrew France

    Epilepsy! I wandered around there when the HMS Illustrious was about and someone asked the operator about the stupid sign and he said it was in case someone was prone to having an epileptic fit! Unbelievable!

  2. IanVisits

    I did wonder if that could be the reason, as I am slightly prone to that malady myself.

    However, it would take 20+ people all setting off their flashes in succession to even hope to trigger a seizure, so if that is the reason for the ban, then it is excessively cautious.

    Naturally, flashless photography is totally harmless in that regard!

  3. Robert Speirs

    I was under the impression that the tunnel is classified as a public highway. So how can photography be banned?

    • IanVisits

      @Robert

      A public highway can still have legal restrictions applied to its usage, such as road works etc.

      I wonder if the ban on photography has been subjected to a “statutory instrument” to make it enforceable though? Hmmm ;)

  4. So, there are going to be wardens every 20 feet enforcing this ban, are there?

    I was told on Friday that I couldn’t go and stand on a fire escape to get some fresh air in the interval of a play “for Health and Safety reasons”

  5. Mark

    I’ve emailed Greenwich Council to see if they can shed any light (obviously not a flash) on the matter.

  6. Now, Im not a betting man. But I give you 10 to 1 that their reply gives the reason for different signs at either end of the tunnel as something like:

    “The southern end of the tunnel falls within London Borough of Greenwich. The northern end of the tunnel, however, falls within London Borough of Tower Hamlets [or whatever borough it is]. Each council only has jurisdiction over their end of the tunnel…….”

  7. M

    Madness indeed – although perhaps it has something to do with a couple of shots I’ve seen of groups at either end of the tunnels, usually for promotional purposes.

    Having said this, as a regular user of the tunnel myself I’ve never been inconvenienced by anyone in this manner.
    Herein follows a shrugging of shoulders in a bemused fashion.

  8. It just makes me want to go and take a few!

  9. I was there just last week taking countless pictures, I just wish that I had read the sign, that of course would have really stopped me taking them, honest! Another bullshit rule that some twat has decided makes sense.

  10. Nigel

    I can’t read at all but am a wonderful photographer.

    My health is really excellent! and I have a wonder safety record (on file) in my local hospital.

    Nigel

  11. Alan

    Most people don’t know when their camera is going to flash. It happens automatically in poor light. So the simplest thing to do for officialdom is to ban all photography.

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