The giant machine that will dig a 4.5km tunnel through south-east London has been assembled and is ready to begin work underground.
‘Annie’, named after Annie Maunder, the first female astronomer to work at the Greenwich observatory, was put through her paces at the factory this week and will soon make the journey from Germany to Greenwich ready to start tunnelling next year.
As wide as a pair of London buses, this huge machine will create the ‘Greenwich Connection Tunnel’ – linking much of south-east London to the main super sewer tunnel beneath the Thames.
Tideway, the company building London’s new 25km ‘super sewer’, has been busy preparing the site in Greenwich, one of 24 sites on the project, for the past two years.
Gareth Howells, Project Manager at Greenwich Pumping Station, said: “Believe it or not, Annie is actually smaller than the machines digging the main tunnel, but it’s still an enormous piece of kit.
“At over six metres in diameter and more than 100 metres long it really is amazing to think that this machine will soon be tunnelling away beneath south-east London.”
When tunnelling starts from the site in Greenwich, it will be a 24-hour operation. So, to ensure disruption to local residents is minimal, Tideway is building an ‘acoustic enclosure’ around the work to trap the noise.
Gareth explained: “Because we’re investing in this acoustic enclosure, noise from the tunnelling will be contained so the impact on our neighbours will be limited by as much as possible.”
Once tunnelling is in full flow at Greenwich, much of the spoil removed from the ground will be taken from site by barge – keeping thousands of lorries off the local roads.
Tideway is investing in new infrastructure in Deptford Creek to facilitate this river transport.