Penstock Tunnel Blog
August 2021 updates
Improvements to Penstock Tunnel: progress update
Date posted: 5 August 2021
We are currently working with Network Rail to improve the drainage in Penstock Tunnel. Network Rail are exploring different options to prevent water from penetrating the structure and to improve the conditions for pedestrians and cyclists as they make use of the footpath.
Improving these conditions are a key part of this project and need to be addressed before work to improve the Penstock Tunnel can continue.
March 2021 updates
Artwork developed with local residents
Date posted: 25 March 2021
Students at Heartlands High School have collaborated with local residents and members of The Community Hub, Haringey to develop artwork for the Penstock Tunnel Site.
The proposed artwork is made up of a series of sculptures that provide places to sit, relax and play and will be worked into the overall design to compliment the opening walls of the tunnel. During workshops exploring place, identity and connection, residents highlighted water as key to stirring up a sense of relaxation.
The artwork is inspired by the history of New River than runs through the site. Built in 1613, New River brought fresh drinking water to London for the first time, saving thousands of lives by drawing cleaning water from Amwell and Chadwell Springs in Hertfordshire.
Winding its way from Hertfordshire to Central London, gravity pulls the water along its route. The engineering provides for a number of remarkable water features along its length. This includes canals that wound their way through Haringey and also supplying water to a theatre at the river head that uses water instead of a solid stage.
The work is proposed to be cast in concrete using a special stone to reflect the colours chosen by local residents that make them feel safe, happy and relaxed. A coloured light treatment will also be added to the Western end of Penstock Tunnel to link the artwork to both ends of the tunnel.
Responsive lighting for safety and play
Date posted: 9 March 2021
We’re really excited to share our latest lighting proposals for Penstock Tunnel. The key points of the lighting improvements are to enhance the sense of safety and security in and around the tunnel, support wayfinding between Wood Green and Alexandra Park and contribute to a feeling of an improved safer area.
Our proposals are to use spotlights at the eastern entrance of the tunnel so that the key improvements like benches and the artwork are highlighted and to light the walls at the entrance of the tunnel. These improvements will help provide a lighter and brighter environment. In the tunnel itself, new LED fittings will be fixed to the ceiling so that they’re more out of reach from damage and efficiently light all the surfaces inside the tunnel.
Motion sensors will also be introduced to the lighting within the tunnel. So, lighting will brighten as people move through or enter the tunnel. This helps to provide a further sense of safety by showing passers-by or those wanting to use the tunnel that other people are nearby. It also promotes a reduction in energy use, so lights are not at a full level all of the time.
Design proposals for improvements to Penstock Tunnel
We’re delighted to present design proposals to improve Penstock Tunnel and the public space at the entrance of the tunnel.
Exhibition boards detailing the proposals are available to view on-site between 8-21 March 2021.
You can also see the design proposals and listen to audio describing them in detail by visiting our Penstock Tunnel Improvements page.
On-site and online exhibitions coming soon!
Date posted: 3 March 2021
Design proposals for improvements to Penstock Tunnel and the space leading to the entrance of the tunnel will be published here from 8 March.
They will also be available to view on-site from Monday 8 March to Sunday 21 March 2021.
If you are passing by, we’d love to hear your feedback!
- Download the Penstock Tunnel Design Poster (PDF, 57KB)
February 2021 updates
Providing spaces to sit, play and dwell in the Eastern Entrance
Date posted: 26 February 2021
The entrance of Penstock Tunnel leading from Western Road/Coburg Road in Wood green is in good condition and is characterised by the original historic walls making this an impressive entrance to the tunnel.
The space in front, leading to the tunnel entrance needs significant improvement to address the current crumbling overgrown planter, poor lighting, and vandalism as a result of misuse after dark.
Our proposals seek to celebrate the tunnel and area’s heritage as well as create a new, open and welcoming public space leading to the tunnel entrance.
Within the new additional space; a timber decked area, and artwork installations aim to encourage residents to enjoy the social space. Unique seating and play elements as well as soft landscape planting and unique lighting features will ensure the improved area feels safe and welcoming after dark.
Celebrating the heritage of Penstock Tunnel
Date posted: 9 February 2021
Penstock Tunnel has a long history dating back to the 1850’s. It was built as part of the construction of the Great North Eastern Railway line leading out of London from Kings Cross Station. Following the success of the railway, development of the line continued with the introduction of additional tracks, increasing the length of Penstock Tunnel itself.
Inside the tunnel, there are 2 differently shaped arched ceilings and a flat concrete ceiling. There are also large pipes throughout. Interestingly, these are what give the tunnel its name, with “Penstock” meaning a pipe for conveying water.
Today, Penstock Tunnel is in a state of disrepair with a leaking roof, peeling paintwork, poor lighting, and vandalism. Whilst the tunnel is well used during the day as a key route between Wood Green, Hornsey and Alexandra Park, after dark it is considered unsafe and as a result, many avoid it.
Our proposals want to address the above issues. We want to keep the existing structure, whilst providing a new drainage system to stop the leaking roof above. We also want to clean up the peeling painted brickwork to bring the surface back to its original white glazed tiles. In addition, we want to repair and repaint the large water pipes. New lighting will also be introduced to provide an improved and safer experience for pedestrians and cyclists.
September 2020 update
Date posted: 14 September 2020
The Penstock Tunnel project is part of the Connecting Wood Green programme to deliver public realm and lighting improvements along the New River Path, between the Cultural Quarter in Wood Green and Alexandra Park in Hornsey. It includes a public art project that aims to activate and energise the space.
Following the last public engagement event held at Penstock Tunnel in September 2019, architects We Made That, lighting designers Studio Dekka, and artist Emma Smith, have been taking on board your comments and developing updated proposals. Feedback from the engagement event was positive with many people identifying the need for improvement, and that the proposals responded well to the existing issues present in the area. In particular, many comments raised the necessity to address safety, misuse, littering and vandalism along the route and understanding how an improved public highway, lighting and artwork can together address these issues.
Further public dialogue and progress was paused due to the pandemic. We now look forward to further engagement again soon, to present our developed designs and to update you on project progress since our last review with the community. Keep in touch on our blog for further updates on the project and information on our future engagement event.
Updates and news on opportunities to get involved will appear here.
- For more background on the project visit the Penstock Tunnel improvements page.
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