One of the worlds most remarkable feats of
engineering has to be the Channel Tunnel link between England and
France. Many people believe that the tunnel was an idea of the 20th
Century and yet plans and discussions about the tunnel date back to the
1802 - The earliest known plans for a tunnel under the English Channel,
pictured left, were put forward by French engineer Albert Mathieu.
1830's - Similar schemes to build a tunnel gained momentum through the
work of another French engineer Aime Thome de Gamond. He was responsible
for the first geological survey of the route under the channel.
1867 - Gamond gained support for his ideas from British noblemen
William Low and Sir John Clarke Hawkshaw. However, due to a number of
different reasons these ideas were never initiated.
1874 - The South Eastern Railway Company obtained permission to
sink experimental shafts.
1876 - The idea of a channel tunnel railway led to official
1881 - South Eastern Railway acquired land between Dover and Folkestone
to begin exploratory work at Shakespeare Cliffe (pictured right) near
Dover. Sir William Watkin's Submarine Railway Company took over SER's
work on 12th December. A pilot tunnel was bored under the English
Channel to a distance of 2100 yards.
1882 - The drilling experiments were a success and this aroused serious
opposition from British military and political figures. They feared that
the tunnel would harm Britain's defences and the tunnel project was
abandoned in May.
1923 - The original South Eastern Railway plans were transferred to
1948 - Southern Railways passed the plans to British Railways.
1957 - A Channel Tunnel Study Group was formed to carry out
economic and engineering studies for a new channel tunnel project.
1960 - The Study Group proposed that a twin railway tunnel would
be viable. Based on these findings Britain and France decide to go ahead
with the tunnel project.
1973 - After many years of research and surveys the estimated
cost of the Channel Tunnel was £468 million. Britain and France agreed
to split the cost 50/50.
1974 - Construction of the tunnel begins.
1975 - Britain pulls out of the project on the grounds of
expense. The estimated cost of the building the tunnel had increased by