Brunel Museum is one of London’s hidden gems. Tucked away near Rotherhithe station, the museum celebrates the achievements of Isambard Kingdom Brunel – an incredible engineer who designed the Thames Tunnel (the first tunnel to pass under the Thames) as well as many other famous structures, including Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Nowadays, the Overground passes through Brunel’s tunnel, but in the past this ‘eighth wonder of the world’ was a major tourist attraction, with shops, an underwater banquet and even a fairground.

In order to build the Thames Tunnel, Brunel and his father first had to sink a shaft down beneath the Thames. The tunnel was designed for transporting cargo under the river Thames, but the Brunels ran out of money for the project before ramps for cargo could be built. As a result, the tunnel was only open for pedestrians until 1869 when it was first used for trains.

Although the railway now runs through the tunnels, the Sinking Shaft still remains. For 150 years was only accessible by stooping through a half-height door and by scrambling down scaffolding steps, however, earlier this year a new staircase by architecture studio Tate Harmer was constructed. The newly-renovated arts and performance space, the Sinking Shaft is half the size of Shakespeare’s Globe and has already attracted a number of unique performances. The chamber still retains its charred walls from the time when steam trains passed beneath it, and the rumbles of the modern day Overground punctuate performances – making this a truly distinctive space where the 19th century collides with the 21st.

Let us introduce you to this subterranean space through Totally Thames 2016 programme of events.