We hear from the men and women, who built this engineering marvel. They had to operate eleven, massive tunnel boring machines gnawing their way through tonnes of rock and chalk, digging not one tunnel but three; two rail tunnels and a service tunnel.
The workforce of over a thousand British tunnellers found ingenious ways to flout the ban on alcohol and cigarettes underground. From injecting grapefruit with vodka to smuggling cigarettes in hollowed out spirit levels. The money that could be made was considerable. When the average wage in 1990 was £14,000, it was not uncommon for a tunneller to be earning £60,000, but in return they had to work in one of the most difficult and dangerous environments in the world. It was even more challenging for women with no female toilets and a culture from some that believed a woman working underground would offend the ‘tunnel god’ causing catastrophic flooding.