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Saving Big Ben

The Jubilee Line Extension to the London Underground, started in 1994, became one of those topics never far from the attentions of the press, especially as the Millennium approached and access to the Dome became an issue. For the civil engineers involved, it was a gigantic project: twin tunnels 11 km long, crossing the river in four places, with eleven new stations to be built, eight of which were to be underground. Professor Robert Mair, Head of the Geotechnical Group, was in the thick of it as Director of GCG, the specialist geotechnical consultants to London Underground for the project.

Jubilee Line Extension and Big Ben

One of the biggest headaches and a very delicate part of the whole construction arose from the decision to put a station right opposite Big Ben. Not only did this require a huge excavation to accommodate seven storeys below ground, but the building was also required to support seven storeys above, to provide much needed office space for Members of Parliament. With MPs waiting to move into new offices as well as the Dome about to open, the pressures to produce to deadline were immense.