On reflection I wasn’t quite sure why I was so enthusiastic to go to the Woolwich Station Box Open Day. The day before the visit I received an email advising me on the importance of wearing sensible shoes and that I had to be physically able to climb up and down the equivalent of seven storeys. This made me really reflect on why I was doing it. However I came to the conclusion that an opportunity to go on site of major infra-structure project should not be missed. Coupled with this, there is speculation about the future funding of the station fit-out which captured my interest. However, I didn’t think there would be that many like minded souls so I was really surprised to see just how many people turned up for the tour.
Registration was in the Dial Arch Pub on the Royal Arsenal where we were put into groups of about 15. Once issued with a wrist band we were escorted over to “the box”. We descended the 18 metres down a temporary stair well to be greeted by our guides. There were two, both engineers, one from Berkeley Homes and the other from Crossrail. They explained that the one hour tour would be slightly shorter as they were trying to get more groups in to cope with the demand.
The new station box is cavernous and made to feel more so by the very loud opera music that was being played. They were preparing for a fun run later that evening so were trying out the sound system. I didn’t mind the Wagner, although they didn’t play the Ride of the Valkyries, but the Hebrew Slaves chorus did give me a strange mental image. The box is 256 metres long, 26 metres wide and 18 metres deep. There are marks on the sides where the two 1,000-tonne tunnel boring machines, Sophia and Mary will come through. They will be tunnelling from Abbey Wood through. Plumstead to Woolwich, underneath the River Thames, to North Woolwich.
Before the excavations an archaeological search had been done. An old river site and wooden piles were found. Confirming the historic importance of Woolwich. Three old cannons were recovered from the site and were on display.
Our guides were informative and so enthusiastic about the project. Several members of the group asked the difficult question about the funding for the station fit out. On this matter they were both well briefed and up beat. I hope that their confidence is well founded as it will certainly be a boost to the regeneration of this corner of London.