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Tunnelling time capsule

Time capsule buried beneath Farringdon station
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Selection of items included in the time capsule that will be left with TBM Phyllis_110467

To celebrate the first breakthrough at Farringdon, a time capsule was buried for people to discover in the future, alongside tunnel boring machine (TBM) Phyllis’ cutterhead.

Among the items included in the Crossrail time capsule were a 2013 edition of the London A to Z  donated by Phyllis Pearsall’s company who TBM Phyllis was named after, a Crossrail “Start of Tunnelling” mining tally and a tunnel phone used to communicate without standard telephone signal, a Crossrail mug, a model train and newspapers from that week.

All the objects were suggested and donated by local people or Crossrail workers.


The western tunnel drive, between Royal Oak and Farringdon, was the first of five drives required to construct the Crossrail tunnelled section. It is the point at which the existing Network Rail services on the western section of the route will enter the tunnels under central London.

Phyllis was the first Crossrail tunnelling machine to break ground on the project and also the first machine to complete her drive, arriving in Farringdon in October 2013.  She was joined in Farringdon by sister machine Ada, who completed her journey in January 2014.

Upon completion of their drives, Phyllis and Ada were dismantled and their 130 metre long trailer systems removed from the tunnel via the Fisher Street shaft, leaving just the front “can” and cutterhead in situ – 30 metres below ground in Farringdon.