[THAMES TUNNEL] Sketches For The Works For The Tunnel Under The Thames From Rotherhithe To Wapping. London; Messrs. Harvey And Darton, 55 , Gracechurch Street. 1830.
Landscape 24mo. Bound in contemporary drab paper-backed marbled card covers with onlaid lettering-label, priced 2s. 6d. to upper panel; ff. ; illustrated with 2 steel-engraved plans (one horizontally folded, and lift-up, and another double-page, titled in the engraving "The Roads and main Objects on the Eastern Part of London as connected to the tunnel", and dated 1827) together with a double-page engraved plan of Rotherhithe mounted on a stub alongside 10 further engraved plates, including one in sepia aquatint and 2 further folding plates in 3 panels (one with an engraved overlay); a very good, sound, and securely-sewn copy with paper spine worn and largely lost, covers rubbed with surface abrasions and small loss to bottom forecorner of upper panel, with a short crease; internally generally very good and clean, with light occasional marking and dusting.
Very early edition, first published by Harvey and Darton in 1828. With a 5-page "Introduction to Sketches of the Tunnel Works" and explanations throughout of the longitudinal and traverse sections depicted, and the machinery and mechanisms involved, including a fine engraving with overlay depicting the revolutionary "tunnelling shield" invented for the project; the same image is replicated on the accompanying advertising broadside (see below).
In 1825 an engineering project began in London which was groundbreaking in more ways than one: a 1,300 foot long tunnel, 35 foot wide but only 6 foot high, was planned to run beneath the River Thames to connect Rotherhithe with Wapping. Construction work took place over several years. It was originally designed for horse-drawn carriages however plans to extend the entrance to allow for this had to be halted because of a large overspend, so the tunnel became the haunt of pedestrians and tourists. Later it was converted into a railway tunnel, and now forms part of the East London Line.
Never before had such an engineering feat been accomplished beneath a navigable river and it only became possible in the 1820s due to new technology invented by Marc Isambard Brunel and Thomas Cochrane. This was a tunnelling shield designed to protect workers from falling debris and cave-ins.
The Engine House, which was designed to extract water during the build, was converted, in 1961, to house a museum devoted to Sir Marc Isambard Brunel and to the engineering project itself. It is now known as the Brunel Museum, Rotherhithe, in the Borough of Southwark. In 2018 the sum of £200,000 was raised by donation and grant to acquire Brunel's originally plans and drawings which are on display there.
The book is sold with an accompanying engraved advertising broadside (29 x 29.3cm) entitled "The Thames Tunnel" and printed by Teape & Son, Printers of Tower Hill, issued circa 1830.