Queensway Tunnel, 30 July 1934.

Queensway Tunnel ‘Nerve Centre’ 26 May 1934

Walking up Manchester Street today, I was reminded about how much of Liverpool we take for granted. Liverpool is full of tourists – most here for the Mathew Street Festival but I wondered how many would stop to admire the Mersey Tunnel, once regarded as one of the great engineering feats. Today, it is its art deco detailing by Herbert Rowse, in my opinion Liverpool’s greatest architect, that catches the eye – but the engineering by Sir Basil Mott (in co-operation with John Brodie, Liverpool’s brilliant City Engineer) was what caught the headlines back in 1934. An amazing construction, the tunnel was started from both side and was only one inch out when they were finally connected.
The Tunnel opened on 18 July 1934 and the top photograph was taken 12 days later. The bottom photograph is of the Control Centre – which “controlled 140 telephones, fire stations every 50 yards and a variety of traffic signals including ingenious devices which will prevent oversize or overweight vehicles from entering the Tunnel. The installation supersedes anything of its kind in the world.”
I’d love to know how the ingenious device preventing oversize vehicles entering the Tunnel worked – in my cynical mind I imagine a policeman at each end eyeing up each lorry – or maybe that man with a bakelite telephone really did have a way of telling.

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