This trip may not be high on the list of glamorous destinations, but even I found it quite interesting. There are three tunnels under the Mersey, one railway and two roadways. The tour took us to explore the ventilation shaft of the oldest of the roadway tunnels, the Queensway tunnel,which was finished in 1935.
The outside building is art deco Egyptian design, and is really quite smart for a chimney!
There are 6 of these ventilation shafts for the Queensway tunnel, this one was also the offices and control centre, so there’s a bit more to it than the others. We shall have to keep a look out for the others, one is clearly seen on the Seacombe side of the river.
Our guide Diane, was full of information and made the tour interesting and fun, kitted out with hard hats and high-viz jackets we were ready to set off.
First stop the control room which is manned by two people 24 hours a day. There are rows of computers all along the desk area where the different functions can be monitored and big screens showing live pictures from many,many cameras all along the tunnel.
They are ready to spring into action if there is a breakdown, accident, or as recently, a lorry fire. In which case they would have to perhaps shut off the ventilation fans or turn on extra power, to keep clean air moving in and foul air out. Which of course is what the ventilation system is all about.
There is also a police monitoring centre, keeping watch over the traffic situation and of course the two are linked.
Behind the operators today lie the vast bank of the old electronic system for operating the fans and power to the tunnel, now defunct. The manual switches and dials all replaced by a mouse and computer screen. They told us that soon they will have another whole new, system,keeping up with the latest technologies available.
Going further into the building we passed through lots of these metal air-lock doors, being clanged shut and secured behind us, it felt a bit prison like.
A glimpse of one of the massive fans in action which the building has been built around. They are original and still work very effectively meaning the air inside the tunnel is cleaner than the air out on the street!
Here we are under the road deck inside the large tube of the tunnel, this part underneath the road was built big enough to carry double-decker trams, a plan which never materialised. The area is used now for running through communication and electricity cables.
Also down on this level there are 7 refuges constructed to create a safe place in an emergency, there is room for 150 people in each one, with fresh water, space blankets and live link to the emergency control room so you can speak to an officer and they can give instructions and help viewed on the screen in the corner.
A bare, unexciting room, but would serve the purpose if needed. This was a recommended improvement following the investigation into the Mont Blanc tunnel disaster a few years ago.
It wasn’t the most picturesque of places to photograph, so I apologise for the pictures. And not being very technically minded, the lack of detail for some of you. Even so it was interesting to go down and explore what goes on under the river, enabling the traffic to keep flowing.