Plans to make entry to an underground chamber in Rotherhithe moved a step closer following the unveiling of the design of the new staircase that will sit inside the space.

Brunel-shaft-staircase

The space in question is the huge shaft suck by Brunel when constructing the original Thames Tunnel. This had a staircase to take people down to the tunnel, but when the converted to a railway, that became the ventilation shaft.

During the London Overground upgrade, a huge concrete floor was installed, and ever since it has been part of the Brunel Museum, and access has been via a tiny tunnel and down a set of scaffolding.

Access has therefore been possible for tours, and organisations for events that can get in through the tiny access tunnel.

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While certainly atmospheric, the current set up is not commercially viable, so a new more conventional set of stairs is to be installed. Sadly, not mirroring the Victorian predecessor which wrapped around the shaft, but these should make access considerably easier for the average visitor.

The key advantage for a historic site, is that the design by Tate Harmer will use a freestanding cantilevered staircase that will be entirely independent of the historic side walls.

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The museum is still fundraising for the new staircase – more details here.

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