The first of the giant tunnel boring machines that will dig the “super sewer” underneath the Thames has been lowered into position, some 53 metres below ground.
The two TBMs, Millicent and Ursula, named after pioneering women who lived and worked in London close to Tideway’s sites, will be used to dig the central section of the Thames Tideway Tunnel, a 25km super sewer tunnel being constructed to tackle the problem of sewage pollution in the River Thames.
Millicent, named after Dame Millicent Fawcett, an English suffragist, will tunnel 5km from Kirtling Street to Carnwath Road in Fulham. While Ursula, named after Audrey ‘Ursula’ Smith, a British cryobiologist at King’s College Hospital, will tunnel 7km from Kirtling Street to Chambers Wharf in Bermondsey.The lowering of the two TBM cutterheads – which weigh in at over 850 tonnes each took approximately eight hours.
Once lowered the machines were placed into launch adits, otherwise known as starter tunnels, before work to complete the build of the TBMs, which will be over 100 metres long when fully built, begins in earnest.
When fully assembled, each TBM will weigh in at 1300 tonnes, and will be the project’s largest, of six, tunnelling machines. The TBMs will remain underground for almost two years as they dig the tunnels.