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Hermitage School’s Thames Tunnel art inspired by Brunel goes on show at London Dock

PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 February 2015 | UPDATED: 10:43 20 February 2015

Child from Wapping's Hermitage Primary wonders at clay figurines on show at London Dock [pictures: Simon Winson]

Child from Wapping's Hermitage Primary wonders at clay figurines on show at London Dock [pictures: Simon Winson]

Simon Winson

Artwork by pupils from a school in London’s East End inspired by Brunel’s world heritage Thames Tunnel at Wapping has gone on show in the vaulted basement of a Grade II-listed London Docks warehouse.

Setting up the display in London Docks' listed warehouseSetting up the display in London Docks' listed warehouse

It is the first time that the old Pennington Street warehouse has been opened to the community for 200 years, which was once used for storing rum and later became part of News International’s printworks before it moved out four years ago.

The Georgian-built complex with its 900ft-long brick-arched basement is being brought back to community life with the London Dock redevelopment now under way since September.

The 350 clay figurines by the children were made with help from artist Emma Corrine in a project based on the school’s curriculum topic of ‘bridges and tunnels’, which involved 90 children aged five to eight.

“It’s been exciting for the children to work with Emma Corrine,” Hermitage Headteacher Zoë Howe said. “They have displayed their work in this magnificent and historic building.”

Youngsters complete their clay figurine display in huge basement of London Dock warehouseYoungsters complete their clay figurine display in huge basement of London Dock warehouse

Artist Corrine was commissioned by Bow Arts Trust which runs projects in east London school to help pupils “rediscover the areas where they live”.

She joined the children this week at the warehouse and representatives from the trust and the developers St George City, to install their collection.

St George City’s boss Craig Carson said: “The 900ft long basement is an ideal setting for an artwork inspired by tunnels—the children’s artwork is in a building steeped in local history.”

The tiny clay figures were inspired by people down the ages using Brunel’s engineering wonder-of-the age that opened in 1845 between Wapping and Rotherhithe—it is the world’s first tunnel under a navigable river which has had trains running through on the East London line since 1871.

Hermitage Primary pupils at listed London Dock warehouseHermitage Primary pupils at listed London Dock warehouse

The youngsters’ artwork is now part of the London Dock residential development which will have 1,800 homes when completed, with the revamped warehouse incorporating shops, restaurants, galleries and offices.


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