Right outside the front door of the new Bloomberg Building is a curious unmarked stone tower.

Although it sat inside the building site when the office block was being built, yet survived suggests it’s of interest, but what is it? Is it an ancient monument, or something else?

The stone rectangular column is surmounted by what looks like vents, and then a dome. Maybe it’s from Victorian underground toilets as used to be dotted around the area then?

Nope, it’s actually quite modern, and also still in use.

It’s a ventilation shaft indeed, but for the DLR railway. Except that the DLR is nowhere near this site, being under another road around the corner.

When the DLR was extended to Bank station in 1987, another additional tunnel was dug underground linking the new DLR tunnels to the Waterloo & City line. In order to dig those tunnels, a shaft was dug down to near the Waterloo & City line platforms.

Right on this spot in fact. You’re looking at the top of that shaft.

Unsurprisingly for this part of London, digging the shaft also uncovered a lot of archaeology, including Roman timbers and woodworking.

In total, they found a series of Roman timber buildings including a room which may have been open-sided, possibly for loading and unloading goods brought up the Walbrook immediately to the east. Overlying the Roman deposits were external floor surfaces of medieval date sealing a layer of dark earth. Masonry foundations identified as belonging to a building documented as ‘The Barge’, the gatehouse to the Manor of the Buckerel family and founded in the 12th or 13th century were also recorded cutting earlier deposits.

It was intended to be just a temporary shaft, but at some point in the construction, they decided that it would also make for a very convenient ventilation shaft to help with the ticket barrier area of the Waterloo & City line.

So, when all around was recently a building site, this unmarked stone column was carefully protected, and as the hoardings came down, the column was still there, feeding air down to the tunnels below.

So, when walking past, you now know what this mysterious stone column is for.


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  1. PeteC says:

    Interesting! Do I understand correctly that the DLR and W&C are linked by a tunnel, and could conceivably (subject to a lot of remedial work) have through running trains? Okay, more theoretical than practical as the two rail systems would be incompatible. Or is it simply an access tunnel.

  2. Matthew says:

    I once found myself at the bottom of the fan shaft that comes up at Fish Street Hill from the DLR running tunnels. True story!

  3. Newshound15 says:

    Fascinating revelation, as ever !

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