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Living & Loving Underground

To celebrate often overlooked LGBQT+ history we have released a series of videos revealing the role the Thames Tunnel played as a space where people, including gay and bisexual men, could meet each other in the 1850s.

Completed in 1843, the Thames Tunnel was the first tunnel underwater anywhere in the world. Popular with tourists when it first opened to the public, by the mid 1850’s the tunnel was known for crime and poverty. Due to its underground nature and perceived as being a den of sin, the tunnel earned the nickname ‘Hades Hotel’. It gathered a reputation for attracting sex workers and their clients.

The films have been researched and created by historians Sacha Coward and Sheldon Goodman, two experienced tour guides who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Parts 1 & 2:

Despite marginalisation and prejudice, queer people have always found ways to meet each other.



Part 3:

How did the Thames Tunnel go from being the 8th wonder of the world to ‘Hades Hotel’ a den of sin? And what did that mean for queer people in the 1850s?



Part 4:

Our final film for LGBT History Month tells the story of John Saul, a male sex worker who described himself as a “Professional Mary-Ann”. His story gives us a glimpse of the kinds of people who may have frequented the Thames Tunnel.




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