A Reverend has blessed the statue of Santa Barbara at the bottom of the shaft at Chambers Wharf to protect the tunnellers who will soon begin excavating the eastern section of London’s new super sewer.
Engineers and others on the Tideway project joined the Reverend Canon Michael Rawson more than 50 metres underground in Bermondsey on Monday morning for the ceremony.
Rev Rawson said the project would make a ‘huge difference to the life of the city and those who live here’ before blessing the statue of Santa Barbara, the patron saint of tunnelling.
It is traditional for tunnelling projects to place a statue of the saint at the tunnel entrances to protect those working deep underground.
The statue is one of four currently in place at various ‘drive sites’ in London, with one more to be blessed in Greenwich later this year.
Rev Rawson said: ‘St Barbara was a third-century Christian martyr who rejected her father’s paganism and embraces Christianity.
‘As punishment, her father locked her up before lunging at her with a sword. Miraculously, Barbara was transported through a small opening in the stone and into a distant mountain gorge — hence becoming the patron saint of tunnelling.’
The giant tunnel boring machine digging the eastern section of the tunnel is named ‘Selina’, after Selina Fox, a pioneering doctor who set up the Bermondsey Medical Mission for the poor and disadvantage residents in Bermondsey.
She will begin excavating the 5.5km stretch of the tunnel between Bermondsey and Abbey Mills Pumping Station later this year.