Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Crossrail creates its first big hole

If Crossrail - London's long-awaited east-west rail link - does fall foul of the new coalition government's there'll not only be a financial hole to plug but literally a massive hole in the Docklands (see photos).

Pumps have already drained nearly 100 million litres - the equivalent of 40 Olympic swimming pools - from the North Dock, the construction site of Crossrail's ambitious Canary Wharf station. 

Fish and other aquatic life have already been removed. A dry bed was left inside the coffer dam after the final one metre of water was pumped out. This is where the station 'box' is due to be constructed over the next few years. 

But if the coalition's consensus on Crossrail crumbles, Canary Wharf will be left with a huge useless hole.

The waters in the North Dock had lapped gently ever since the West India Docks, the first enclosed system of docks in the world, were completed and opened in 1802. 

The docks were built under the auspices of the West India Dock Company, whose directors and government supporters were keen to protect their precious cargoes of sugar, rum and molasses. These commodities were produced by captive African slaves toiling on plantations throughout the West Indies.

Paul Coleman, London, May 2010

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