As part of work starting at Stepney in east London to create one of Europe’s largest underground caverns, two new buildings were officially opened by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets at the Stepney City Farm on Saturday, following a major redevelopment funded by Crossrail.
In exchange for Crossrail temporarily using a third of the farm’s land for tunnel construction, Crossrail has funded improvements including a new barn to house farm animals during the winter and a rural arts centre where children can learn ironmongery, pottery and woodwork skills.
More than 3,000 people visit the farm each month and the new facilities also provide classrooms for community courses, and space to sell produce including vegetables, eggs and jam.
With work at the farm complete and the neighbouring land vacated, initial construction for the huge cavern is now underway which eventually will be where Crossrail’s two eastern branches to Shenfield and Abbey Wood will meet below ground. Once complete the cavern will be large enough to fit about 100 London double decker buses.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman said: “I am pleased to be opening the new buildings at Stepney City Farm which have created a stronger than ever farm. As a local authority we are working closely with Stepney City Farm and Crossrail to help minimise the impacts and maximise the benefits for the local community during Crossrail’s construction phase. Crossrail provides transport and economic benefits to the area and we support its work and I know that Crossrail’s funding of the animal barn and rural craft centre will provide even greater long lasting benefits for the local community.”
Andrew Wolstenholme, Crossrail Chief Executive said: “We are pleased to fund this major redevelopment of Stepney City Farm which plays such an important role in allowing children from Tower Hamlets and east London to gain first hand experience of farm animals. With the support and agreement of Stepney City Farm, Crossrail has been able to progress tunnelling for the new railway by temporarily using land which will be returned for the benefit of the local community following completion of the works.”
Construction of a major rectangular shaft at Crossrail’s Stepney Green worksite is well underway. When finished the shaft will be 34.5 metres deep and allow for works to begin on the cavern that will be 17 metres wide, 13 metres high and up to 70 metres long. Once complete, this new underground cavern would have the capacity equivalent to six Olympic swimming pools.
A concrete batching plant will be constructed on site to manufacture the concrete that will be used to construct the cavern.
Two of Crossrail’s large tunnel boring machines, Victoria and Elizabeth, will pass through the shaftand cavern later next year on their way to Farringdon via Canary Wharf, Whitechapel and Liverpool Street stations.
Gallery - Stepney Green access shaft construction progress and Stepney City Farm opening
Notes to editor
Joint Venture contractors Dragados Sisk are building Crossrail’s eastern tunnels and have undertaken the works at Stepney City Farm and are constructing the shaft and cavern at Stepney Green.
Stepney City Farm leases the land from the Tower Hamlets Council.
Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushnara Ali also attended Saturday’s event.
The total funding envelope available to deliver Crossrail is £14.8bn. The Crossrail route will pass through 37 stations and run 118 km (73 miles) from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km (13 miles) tunnels below central London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.
When Crossrail opens it will increase London's rail-based transport network capacity by 10%, supporting regeneration and cutting journey times across the city. Crossrail services are due to commence through central London in 2018.
Crossrail is being delivered by Crossrail Limited (CRL). CRL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London. Crossrail is jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport and Transport for London.