Design for a channel tunnel, 1868
Artist and designer: William Low
© RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections
Plans to connect Britain and France with a tunnel existed long before the technology and political climate were available to build such a feat of engineering. Fear of invasion following the Napoleonic Wars hindered the project for much of the 19th century, but the onset of rail travel prompted many new proposals in the 1860s.
This drawing by William Low shows how Victorian architects and engineers harnessed drawing, the press and increasing interest in architecture to publicise schemes. Low's drawing presents a straightforward design without regard to the difficulty of construction in a succinct and effective manner. There is no romance to the technical drawing. As popular literacy in architecture and architectural drawings increased, designers responded to the demands of technology and for clear conveyance of information.