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24 September 2014
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The Opening of the Tunnel

Tunnel postcard
Postcards were included in the Queensway Tunnel memorabilia

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On the 18th July 1934, over 200,000 people gathered at the Old Haymarket to watch King George V and Queen Mary, officially open the Queensway tunnel.

Tunnel opening 1934
The opening of the Queensway Tunnel - 18th July 1934

Amongst those chosen to welcome the Royal party were Lord Mayor Councillor John Strong, Sir Thomas White, Chair of the Joint Tunnel Committee, Lord Sefton and Chief Constable A.K. Wilson. Liverpool City Police Band provided the music.

At 11.45 the Royal party arrived.

"......I thank all those who have achieved this miracle. I praise the imagination that foresaw, the minds that planned, the skill that fashioned, the will that drove, and the strong arms that endeavoured in the bringing of this work to completion.

May those who use it ever keep grateful thoughts of the many who struggled for long months against mud and darkness.

His Majesty King George V
18th July 1934

As the national anthem played and the curtains began to rise, few were aware that the electrical mechanism had failed and instead two men were stationed either side, raising the curtains with hand cranks.

Carved stone feature
Carved stone feature, Old Haymarket entrance

The Royal car led the way through the tunnel to Birkenhead, where three miles of crowds awaited their arrival, clambering on roof tops and hanging on to chimneys to obtain a better viewpoint.

Lighting Column
60ft lighting column, designed by Herbert Rouse

On arrival, the Royal Party was introduced to Birkenhead's oldest inhabitant, 102 year old Sammual Gillingham. The party then went on to officially open Central Library on Borough Road, replacing the old library, demolished to make way for the tunnel entrance.

In the days that followed, the tunnel turned into something of a tourist attraction, with crowds watching the steady flow of traffic travelling between Liverpool and Birkenhead.


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