What's new

Unbuilt Britain

Hawkins’ Brick Cylinders

Two hundred years ago, John Isaac Hawkins invented a new way to build tunnels. In 1811 he floated brick cylinders in the Thames. He planned to sink them into the riverbed. Once joined they would form the first tunnel under the Thames.

This would have been the world's first immersed tube tunnel. Although unsuccessful, Hawkins presented drawings to ICE in 1840 and images of two are on the database. The first successful tunnel of the type was the Detroit River tunnel nearly 100 years later.