Thames Tideway Tunnel celebrates engineering feat with special live performance

Thames Tideway Tunnel celebrates engineering feat with special live performance

To mark the completion of tunnelling work on London’s huge new ‘Super Sewer’, the Thames Tideway Tunnel project has hosted a special live music performance over 70 metres underground. The Thames Tideway Tunnel aims to build a major new 25km sewer underneath the river Thames. The capital currently relies on a sewer system that is over 150 years old, which was built to provide sewerage capacity for a much smaller population.  


As a result, millions of tonnes of untreated raw sewage spills into the river each year. The ambitious £4.2 billion project aims to address this, and dramatically reduce sewage pollution in the Thames. Work on the super sewer began back in 2016, with tunnelling commencing two years later in 2018.


The project has been managed sustainably throughout, employing measures such as removing 90% of the excavated spoil by barge in order to keep HGVs off the road.  


The 25-kilometre tunnel running from east to west London is now fully constructed. Commending the project for its incredible feat of engineering, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: 


“It is wonderful to see this project reaching this important milestone; it’s a phenomenal feat of British engineering and will deliver huge environmental benefits for the River Thames. The Tunnel will

prevent millions of tonnes of sewage overflowing into the river, helping to improve water quality and allowing marine life to thrive further.  


“Our partnership with Tideway has been an extraordinary success and I want to thank all those involved for their hard work on this incredible project, and I look forward to seeing its completion.” 


The project has also been fantastic for London and the UK’s construction and engineering sectors. It has created around 4,000 sustainable engineering jobs to date, along with over 100 apprenticeships.  


Live music in the tunnel 


To celebrate the completion of what has been an extraordinary engineering challenge, the London musician and composer Rob Lewis was invited to perform his multi-instrumental music within the tunnel itself.  


Describing the unique event, which took place 70 metres underground and was streamed on Tideway’s YouTube channel, the project said in a press release: 


“Audiences can anticipate a symphony of percussion instruments, cello harmonics and piano to embody the flowing and movement of water, the complex construction of the sewage system and ultimately, the brighter future of a cleaner London. 


“The piece represents the journey and positive environmental impact of London’s new super sewer and includes field recordings from Tideway’s construction sites that have formed the backdrop for the composition.” 


The Thames Tideway Project is expected to be fully complete and the sewer ready for use by 2025. Over the next two years, finishing works such as secondary lining, connection and testing will take place.  


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