|The South Eastern Railway's line from St John's
(Lewisham) to Gravesend via Woolwich, opened in 1849, has a series of tunnels
between Blackheath and Woolwich Arsenal. Several of these have portals with
Blackheath Tunnel, between Blackheath and Charlton, is by far the longest, at 1,681 yards. Features of the south portal include a stone string course and a peaked parapet. The dentils around the arch ring are an unusual and attractive feature. There are massive wing walls. The north portal is similar. Tunnels constructed two years later in Hastings have similar dentilled portals.
Charlton Tunnel has very similar portals to Blackheath Tunnel, but with much smaller wing walls. The stone string course has been replaced in brick, but that apart, quite extensive modern repairs to the west portal have retained the original design.
Only a short distance west of Charlton Tunnel is Mount Street Tunnel, 121 yards long. This is unusual in that the tunnel profile changes. The eastern portal is similar to those of Charlton Tunnel.
The western portal is plainer. The parapet is much the same, but the arch is lower and with plain rings.
Dockyard Tunnel has a dentilled parapet and plain arch at its west end, similar to the western portal of Mount Street Tunnel. However, the eastern portal, at Woolwich Dockyard station is completely plain. This tunnel is also 121 yards long.
Coleman Street Tunnel, at the east end of Woolwich Dockyard station, has a similar parapet and profile as Charlton Tunnel, but plain arch rings. A buttress has been built against it on the down platform. The tunnel is 89 yards long.
George IV Tunnel, west of Coleman Street Tunnel, has fairly plain portals, similar to the western portal of Mount Street Tunnel. The parapet has been rebuilt with a contrasting band of brick, but is not peaked. The tunnel is 238 yards long and takes its name from a public house that it passes below.
There are two further "tunnels" before Woolwich Arsenal station, Calderwood Street and Cross Street. However, these are bridge structures, with concrete beams supporting buildings over the railway.
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This page was created 20 January 2010