Help name London’s next two giant tunnel boring machines

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HS2 is asking for members of the public, living in Ealing, Brent and beyond, to help it chose names for the next two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will dig HS2 tunnels under the capital.

In early 2024, HS2 will launch the two machines that will construct the Northolt Tunnel East travelling through Brent and Ealing. The TBMs will set off towards Greenpark Way in Greenford, travelling 3.4 miles from HS2’s Victoria Road site, near to new Old Oak Common station.

Before the TBMs set off, they are given names. As per convention, they will be named after influential women and HS2 is asking the public to vote for two names from a shortlist of five with connections to Ealing. TBM naming helps communities remember and celebrate great local woman from all walks of life.

The names on the shortlist are:

  • Amy Barbour-James (1906 -1988) – Amy was born in Acton to Guyanese parents and was active in the civil rights movement. She was involved in the African Progress Unionand the League of Coloured Peoples, becoming secretary of the latter in 1942.
  • Lady Anne Byron (1792 – 1860) – Lady Byron was an educational reformer and philanthropist. In 1834 she established the Ealing Grove School – the first school for the working classes, in an era when education was mainly for the wealthy.
  • Brigid Brophy (1929 – 1995) – Ealing born Brigid was a British writer and campaigner whose work focused on social reform, homosexual parity, animal rights and humanism. She helped establish the Public Lending Right, allowing authors to claim a payment every time their book was borrowed from a public library.
  • Emily Sophia Taylor (1872 – 1956) – Emily was a midwife, providing services for women who could not afford care, and became Ealing’s first female mayor in 1938. She was an active member of the Education Committee and the Child Welfare Committee and helped establish the Perivale Maternity Hospital in 1937.
  • Susan Mary Smee (1859 – 1949) – Susan became Acton’s first female mayor in 1924, the first Justice of Peace and the first curator of Gunnersbury Park Museum. She is described as a pioneer who helped other women to follow her example.

The selected names will be displayed on the side of the TBMs which are to be lowered into a shaft ready to tunnel in the Autumn. Before launch, there will be a ceremony to bless the TBMs featuring a statue of St Barabara, the patron saint of tunnelling, conducted by a local priest.

Speaking about the naming, HS2’s head of community engagement, Maddelyn Sutton, said: “As HS2 construction begins to reach its peak, we are preparing to launch our next duo of tunnel boring machines in London. Giving the TBMs names with local connections is a great way for us to celebrate the achievements of women and for the local community to get involved in this once in a generation infrastructure project.”

Both TBMs are 170 metres long and over 1,700 tonnes in weight. They will be operated by HS2’s main works civils contractor building the London Tunnels, Skanska Costain STRABAG Joint Venture.

The tunnel they are building will be 8.4 miles in total, stretching from Old Oak Common station to West Ruislip. The other five miles of the tunnel is under construction with two further TBMs, Sushila and Caroline, already one mile into their journey.

More information on HS2’s TBM naming can be found here and more information can be found on HS2 at www.hs2.org.uk.

The voting is open from Monday 21 August until Monday 4 September 2023.

Image credit: HS2

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