Penstock Tunnel improvements

Penstock Tunnel improvements

The Penstock Tunnel project is part of the Connecting Wood Green programme and will deliver public realm and lighting improvements along the New River Path, between the Cultural Quarter in Wood Green and Alexandra Park in Hornsey.

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. These are what give the tunnel its name, with “Penstock” meaning a pipe for conveying water.

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 plans for Penstock will keep the existing structure as is but provide 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.

We are working with architects We Made That to deliver the Penstock Tunnel improvements.

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Public art project 

As part of the Connecting Wood Green scheme, we have been working with designers, We Made That, on ideas for how Penstock Tunnel could be improved. One of the improvements will be a public art project which aims to activate and energise the space.

As part of the Penstock Tunnel improvements, there will a public art project which aims to activate and energise the space. Architects We Made That and artist Emma Smith held an open public event at the Tunnel. This was to explore how light and colour make us feel and contribute ideas towards the artwork being created as part of the designs. The event was well attended by Heartlands School, local residents and community groups and general passers-by.

We will progress further with designs and hold a public engagement event once more detailed proposals have been developed. Keep checking back for updates.

Project documents and details

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Proposed Designs 

We’re delighted to present design proposals to improve Penstock Tunnel and the public space at the entrance of the tunnel. Our aim is to create a safe, and welcoming space that will be well used and help to improve connections between Wood Green and Alexandra Park. 

Exhibition boards detailing the proposals can be viewed here and an audio recording is also available. 

Listen to our Plans for Penstock Tunnel:

Note for iPhone users and Youtube. There is a known bug with iOS and Youtube, Two buttons are read before the player but provide no functionality. We advise that you skip these to access the content.

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Page last updated:

May 19, 2023