I have been meaning for absolutely ages to take a look at a little bit of London Underground heritage at Bank Station, and total thanks to problems with the Jubilee Line, I happened to be at Bank today and going past the tunnel in question when I finally remembered to take a look (and had my camera with me).

I use Bank station so often, and keep forgetting to take a look at this – and as much of the station may be closed for a year from next month – some urgency had arisen in my quest.

The bit of heritage is the remains of the Greathead steel shield which was used during the tunnelling of the original Waterloo & City Line in 1898 and like most tunnelling shields, it was abandoned in the soil once the tunnelling was over.

Greathead Shield in Bank Station - 1

It was unexpectedly rediscovered some 90 years later during the extension of the DLR to Bank station – and it was left in place in a new tunnel linking the station with the W&C line. There is a small plaque beside it to explain its significance, although I would be surprised if anyone notices in the morning rush hours frankly.

This is how the shield would have looked when in use – yes the tunnelling was still done by hand, not by machine.

greathead shield

A couple of close up images:

Greathead Shield in Bank Station - 2Greathead Shield in Bank Station - 3


Article last updated on May 10th, 2021 at 03:43 pm

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One comment
  1. Graeme Murray. says:

    Hello Ian, My friend Prof Mike Bruton who writes books about South African inventions & inventors is keen to get his hands on a picture of the plaque & statue of James Greathead outside the Bank of England, London.
    Can you oblige?

    Graeme Murray.

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