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Tunnellers thanked with a little piece of London

Tunnelling teams on the super sewer project are being presented with limited-edition cups moulded from excavated material to thank them for their work on the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

With digging commenced on the final 5.5km eastern stretch of the 25km-long tunnel, teams on the other sections have been presented with custom-made artwork as mementos.

A year ago, artists Heather Peak and Ivan Morison of Studio Morison were commissioned by Tideway to respond to the brief of 'digging'. After a period of research into tunnelling, the project and its geology and associated rituals, they have produced a limited-edition artwork for the tunnelling teams across the project. 

The rock used to create the final mould was excavated at Chambers Wharf in Bermondsey and the bone china cups made in Stoke on Trent. There are six variations with hand applied glazes by the artists, each named after a Tunnel Boring Machine and the colours referencing the particular geology of each tunnel drive.

The cups reference the tradition of celebratory meals or dinners held in completed tunnels.

Heather Peak said: “Part sculpture, part performance and part functioning cup, this art commission tells the story of the tunnel being built under our feet, it will invite the owner to stop and take tea, it will stand as a symbol of the poetry of civic engineering and it will be a rather special thank you gift.”

Tunnelling Teams on the western section of the project have started to receive their cups as their work on the tunnel draws to a close. On receiving his cup at Carnwath Road, Daniel Satterthwaite said: “The Thames Tideway Tunnel has been a great project to work on. This unique cup will always remind me of the fantastic team I am proud to say I was part of, delivering the west section of London’s ‘super sewer’”.