Delicate facelift for tunnel: Pembroke

Click to follow
London Underground will come under close scrutiny in March when it begins a seven-month renovation of the Thames Tunnel at Rotherhithe, which carries East London line commuters to the City. Completed 152 years ago by Sir Mark Brunel, father of Isambard, the Thames' first tunnel is revered by civil engineers who drool over the terracotta tiles lining the walls and admire the innovative work of an engineer who pioneered modern tunnelling techniques.

The tunnel, which first carried steam-powered tube trains, is approaching a much-needed face-lift which will coinciding with the Jubilee line extension.

London Transport has developed a reputation amongst heritage groups for clumsiness since it ripped out 1,100 station signs, some from listed buildings, and auctioned them last year.

Earlier this month LT was criticised for felling too many trees in its eagerness to keep the fabled leaves off the line.

"We shall be keeping a careful eye on them," said Nicholas de Salis, chairman of the Brunel Exhibition at Rotherhithe.

Colonial touch at Oxford Hot on the tracks of London's motorcycle taxi service, a rickshaw service is starting in Oxford to transport tourists and, hopefully, regular passengers around the increasingly restricted city. It is run by Erica Steinhauer, an enthusiastic former hippy who set up a bead importing company in the 1980s which developed a turnover of £250,000 before folding when her marriage collapsed and big customers pulled out.

She and her 17-year-old daughter are currently raising money, up to £85,000, through Henley-based Venture Capital Report. They hope to buy 15 brightly decorated, two-seater rickshaws imported from India. They will be operated from a city centre kiosk selling exotic goods. Ms Steinhauer is also hoping to develop an innovative kinetic spring that will help exhausted students to start the heavy vehicles rolling.

The scheme has faced challenges, aired in the local newspapers, from taxi drivers, town planners and those resentful of the rickshaws' colonial connotations. But Ms Steinhauer is convinced that, with car bans spreading and 2 million visitors flocking tothe university city, the service will be a success. "I suppose some would regard our venture as unsafe, demeaning and exploitative," the former bead-seller admits. "But we think it will reduce congestion in a beautiful city and provide employment."

Problems of a larger kind: Concerned staff at sensitive retailers John Lewis are worried that the brand name for the range of larger-sized women's clothes may be a bit on the blunt side. They say that emblazoning the racks with "18-plus" may inhibit browsing, according to a correspondent in the in-house magazine. Mind you, the alternatives the letter-writer suggests are not much better. "Generous Girls" and "Wider Horizons" seem hardly more tactful.

Short of money? You might think of becoming a mechanic at Glaxo, the acquisitive pharmaceuticals company. Defending his £930,000 salary Sir Richard Sykes, boffin-turned-chief executive, recently boasted that, hour-for-hour, the man who mended his car waspaid more. If he worked every hour God gave him, Sir Richard would be earning £106.16, which makes me wonder how much he pays the lucky man who fixes his car.

Comments