Rotherhithe Tunnel (part of the A101) was opened in 1908 by George, Prince of Wales (later King George V) and LCC chairman Richard Robinson. It was to serve as a toll-free road crossing of the River Thames connecting West India Docks, to the north of the river, and Surrey Commercial Docks to the south.
It was designed by Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice and construction began in 1904 under the engineering expertise of Edward H Tabor and executed by contractors Price and Reeves.
Rotherhithe Road Tunnel
It was designed to accommodate horse-drawn traffic and pedestrians, however the rapid rise of motor car ownership in the years following its opening meant that it was required to accept motor vehicles.
The two-carriageway tunnel is 1482 metres long and runs to a maximum depth of 23 metres below the surface of the river. It has four shafts, originally built to aid the construction of the tunnel but later used for pedestrians and ventilation. Shafts one and two were Grade II heritage listed in 1983.
Fifty-six fascinating photographic prints of the tunnel’s construction are held within the Science Museum’s archives and can be viewed at their online photo library.