Skip to main content
Open Search Modal


Tideway’s vote for names is anything but boring

A public vote launches today (Monday 3 July) to find the most inspirational women from history to inspire the names of the machines digging London’s super sewer, known as tunnel boring machines.

The organisation behind the building of the tunnel has created a shortlist inspired by some of history’s most pioneering women who lived or worked in London, but it wants the public to decide the winning names for its six diggers that, although called ‘boring machines’, have one of the most important jobs to do for London’s future.

The vote will be running until the end of July, before tunnelling begins next year on the 25km sewer tunnel that will help tackle sewage pollution in the River Thames.

Andy Mitchell, Tideway’s CEO, said: “Getting more women in to engineering is one of Tideway’s biggest aspirations and whilst we have our own objectives around staff numbers, we also wanted to celebrate the important role women have played in London’s history.

“Not only will the tunnel help to prevent the millions of tonnes of raw sewage that pollute the river every year, it will also mark an important step-change in the way our city views its river, to help us work towards our vision of reconnecting London with the River Thames. And what better way to do that than by recognising some of the women who have made London what it is today.”

The nominations of women to vote on include Christina Broom, who was the first female press photographer from Fulham, Suffragette Charlotte Despard from Wandsworth, and Mary Tealby, the founder of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

Lucy Webster, Tideway’s external affairs director, added: “The 17 women on the shortlist represent some of the most important women in London’s history and include pioneers in the world of engineering, women’s rights, social justice, sports and medicine.

“One of Tideway’s legacy goals is to achieve a greater balance of men and women in the engineering and construction industry, and it is fitting for us to celebrate just some of the inspirational women who have helped shape our history and our city.”

The Thames Tideway Tunnel will be made up of three parts that join together under the river, with two machines needed for the central section and one more for the western and eastern parts, as well as another two machines that will dig connection tunnels from Wandsworth and Greenwich.

The first machines are due to arrive in London later in the year, before tunnelling under London starts next year.

View the full shortlist here: