Unseen Liverpool: inside the Queensway Tunnel

Unseen Liverpool: inside the Queensway Tunnel

Two engineering students were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the Queensway Tunnel to discover the innovative feats of engineering and construction that went into creating the infrastructure.

Watch Gabi Davies, a Building Surveying student and Michael Fairburn who studies Civil Engineering, take a tour of the Queensway Tunnel to find out what goes on 150 feet below.

On any given day an average of 35,000 vehicles travel beneath the River Mersey to Liverpool from the Wirral or vice versa via the Queensway Tunnel. If you were to ask regular Queensway users what is the most interesting thing about travelling by tunnel, you could be waiting for an answer for some time. Let’s be fair, besides the minor kick you might get out of throwing your £1.80 toll into the coin basket, like some kind of fairground challenge, the tunnel is just another means of getting you where you need to be that happens to go dark for a few minutes and scrambles your radio signal. But two engineering students discovered there’s much more to it than that. Taking part in a tunnel tour really opened their eyes to the amazing feats of engineering and the behind-the-scenes activity that keeps the tunnel functioning day in, day out.

Did you know?
  • 1,700 men built the tunnel using pickaxes and small explosives; it took nine years to build
  • 1,200,000 tons of rock and gravel were excavated with 7,482,000,000 gallons of water pumped out during the construction
  • The two teams of workmen started on each side of the river and were just an inch out when they met in the middle
  • A lower section of the tunnel, known as Central Avenue, was built as a tramway but it never ended up being used
  • King George V opened the tunnel on 18 July 1934 to a crowd of 200,000
  • The ventilation fans are huge (20 foot in diameter) and can pull or push half a million cubic feet of air in one minute
  • Because car engines are much cleaner these days, the fresh air fans don't need to be on all the time
  • After a fire in a tunnel in Mont Blanc in 1999, tunnels in Europe were tasked with reviewing safety measures. £9 million was invested in Queensway to create seven safety refuge areas
  • Electricity and communication cables run through the tunnel rather than laid on the river bed. In the tunnel these cables are safe, dry and easier to access for repairs
  • The Mersey Tunnel Act of 1925 stated that flocks of sheep, herds of cattle, horses and wagons and even wheelbarrows were permitted to use the Queensway Tunnel as long as toll was paid
  • The first tunnels built did not have ventilation systems in place as the dangers of carbon monoxide were unknown, it was only after drivers started to fall asleep at the wheel that ventilation was put in place

You can take your own tour of the tunnel, find out more from the Merseytravel website.

Interested in engineering? Take a look at what you could be studying at LJMU.


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