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Opening crowd

Difficult as it may currently be to imagine happily joining a crowd, that is what I am asking you to envision:

On Saturday 25th March 1843, the Thames Tunnel finally opened, eighteen years after the start of the project. Visitors eagerly arrived in Rotherhithe on foot, coach, horseback or by boat. A printing press had even been lowered into the tunnel and was printing “The Royal Thames Tunnel Paper” for sale.

In its first twenty hours of opening, fifty thousand people paid to enter. In the first ten days, one hundred thousand people entered, and by the 11th of July – a mere fifteen weeks after opening – one million pedestrians had been admitted; this was equivalent to half of London’s population at the time!

Text by volunteer Ben Thorne

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