UCL News


A boring story

4 August 2006

A tooth from one of the massive machines that bored under the sea to create the Channel Tunnel has been presented to UCL Civil & Environmental Engineering.

Presentation of Channel Tunnel tooth

Made of tungsten carbide-tipped steel and weighing 2.5kg, the 15cm tooth was one of 240 arranged along the cutting surface of the B6 Channel Tunnel Boring Machine. Reclamet, a recycling company, took possession of the machine when the tunnel was completed, with the aim of decommissioning and re-using its components. Some of the teeth are being auctioned off to raise money for cancer services in Kent.

Professor Nick Tyler, Head of UCL Civil & Environmental Engineering, received the tooth from Madeleine White, Managing Director of Creativeuk solutions, a Kent-based PR company that is working with Reclamet to raise the profile of the fundraising campaign. Commenting on one of the more unusual items to be presented to the university, he recognised the symbolic significance of the tooth: "17 years before UCL acquired the Gower Street site, Richard Trevithick set up a demonstration on the site of his steam locomotive 'Catch me who can'. Charles Vignoles, who brought the flat-bottomed rail design developed in the USA to the UK, and whose name has been associated with this design ever since, was the first Professor of Civil Engineering at UCL, from 1841-1844. 186 years after Trevithick's demonstration, the UK's railways were connected to those on the continent of Europe. Having a symbol of that breakthrough here marks UCL's leading role in the proliferation of engineering ideas."

It is planned that the tooth will form part of an exhibit on the UCL Bloomsbury campus celebrating the work of the university in the railway industry.

To find out more, follow the links at the top of this item.

Image 1: Professor Nick Tyler receives the tooth from Madeleine White, Creativeuk solutions
Image 2: The Channel Tunnel Tooth