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Energy Coast UTC Visit to London Tunnels

As part of the Women in Engineering campaign and in partnership with Morgan Sindall Infrastructure, two of our Year 13 students, Ellie and Jordan, along with Ms Tingle and Miss Farrell enjoyed a two day visit to the Lee Tunnel and Thames Tideway Tunnel Projects in London.



Left to Right: Morgan Sindall Infrastructure Apprentice, Anna Magrath, originally from Dovenby, near Cockermouth, with UTC students Ellie Holmes and Jordan McLellan at the Hammersmith Tunnel.

Morgan Sindall Infrastructure was involved in the construction of Lee Tunnel, a 6.5Km sewage tunnel which was completed in 2016 and is currently working in joint venture with BAM Nuttall and Balfour Beatty to deliver the west section of Thames Tideway Tunnel; the total length of the tunnel is circa 25Km long. The Thames Tideway Tunnel is the biggest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the UK water industry.

This was a fantastic opportunity for the UTC students to see first-hand how a major infrastructure project is undertaken in industry. They also met several members of different project teams and were able to experience the incredibly diverse nature of engineering roles in the UK that their education is making available to them.

We are really grateful to Morgan Sindall Infrastructure for facilitating this visit and providing our students with such a brilliant opportunity.

Ellie and Jordan both gained a great deal from the visit and have written about the trip below in their own words:

“On Tuesday 7 May and Wednesday 8 May we were guests of Morgan Sindall Infrastructure, a company which specialises in delivering complex engineering projects to support the UK’s infrastructure and visited some inspiring projects and met with many inspiring people.

Our visit was to London where we were told about the huge amount of raw sewage which goes in to the River Thames every time there is heavy rain. The old sewers, built in Victorian times, can’t cope with the amount of sewage that is now produced and when it rains heavily they overflow causing huge amounts of raw sewage to go straight in to the River Thames. To solve this problem Morgan Sindall Infrastructure is part of a bigger team working to create a series of tunnels under London. One of these is the recently completed Lee Tunnel Project and the others are part of the Thames Tideway Tunnel project, which is being delivered by Tideway.

Our visit involved two site visits, the first was to the Lee Tunnel Project, which has been built to help cope with the influx of water which arrives in the sewers when it rains heavily. This tunnel takes the extra water and stores it until it is safe to process through a sewage treatment plant. The tunnel has been constructed with a range of techniques including a TBM (tunnel boring machine) and clever uses of specialised concrete to spray to line the tunnel. This stops 40% of the raw sewage going into the Thames.

The second site visit was to Tideway, who are delivering a massive project which will stop almost all of the rest of the sewage going in to the Thames when it rains. This is made up of a huge 25km tunnel which goes from West to East London, under the River Thames, and other smaller tunnels which join in to this. We visited both the tunnel shaft and tunnel at the Hammersmith Pumping Station work site and also another shaft, where tunnelling is just starting, at the Carnwath Road Riverside work site. We were able to descend inside the tunnel, right under the River Thames, which involved a lot of steps and was amazing. We also learnt about different ways of creating tunnels and shafts and different types of concrete.

Every member of the team we met were wonderful, from junior apprentice engineers to the most senior members of staff in the company. They were helpful, accommodating, organised and so passionate about what they did and the difference the new tunnels will make to the people of London will be great.

We were truly inspired and want to thank Morgan Sindall Infrastructure and their joint venture partners for giving us this amazing experience.”

-Ellie Holmes and Jordan McLellan


Left to Right: Andy Crowder (Morgan Sindall Infrastructure), Pauline Farrell (UTC), Ellie Holmes (UTC Student), Jordan McLellan (UTC Student) Cherry Tingle (UTC Principal) and Mike Wilkins (Morgan Sindall Infrastructure) at the Lee Tunnel site.


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