A giant tunnel boring machine (TBM) set to create the final stretch of London’s new super sewer has arrived in the capital.

The TBM, Selina, was delivered on Wednesday to Tideway’s Chambers Wharf site in Bermondsey, where she will be lifted onto the site before beginning her underground journey toward Abbey Mills Pumping Station later in the year.

A total of six TBMs are being used to create London’s super sewer (with two already finished tunnelling), meaning Selina is the final machine to begin work – but she is also the deepest.

Beginning her journey more than 60m below the ground, Selina will tunnel on a slight decline toward the pumping station in east London.

Maurice Gallagher, Deputy Delivery Manager for the eastern section of the project, said: “To welcome Selina to site is a great moment for Tideway – and for London.

“Although there is much work still to be done, her arrival in the capital means we’re on the final stretch – and closer than ever to a cleaner, healthier River Thames.”

Selina was delivered to Chambers Wharf using a giant vessel called the Skylift 3000.

Each of Tideway’s six TBMs was named, via a public vote, in honour of inspirational women from history associated with the local area.

Selina is named after Dr Selina Fox, who founded the Bermondsey Medical Mission in 1904. The small clinic and eight-bed hospital provided medical and spiritual care to the most vulnerable women and children in the area, and continues to this day under the name Mission Care.

Tunnelling predominantly through chalk, TBM Selina will head north east towards the already-built Lee Tunnel, which links Abbey Mills Pumping Station to Beckton Sewage Treatment Works.

Chambers Wharf in Bermondsey is a key site for the Tideway project – the launch site of Selina, but also the site at which TBMs Ursula (currently en route from Battersea) and Annie (soon to begin her journey from Greenwich) will finish.

A new TV documentary by broadcaster and journalist Andrew Marr will explorer one of JMW’s most famous paintings – and it has a strong Rotherhithe connection.

The third episode of Great Paintings of the World with Andrew Marr – devoted to The Fighting Temeraire – will be broadcast on Channel 5 at 6.15pm on Saturday 20 June. It will then be available to view on demand via My5.

One of Turner’s most eminent paintings, The Fighting Temerairedepicts HMS Temeraire which played a distinguished role in Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Painted in 1838 it depicts the Temeraire being towed to Beatson’s yard in Rotherhithe to be broken up.

Timber from the ship was used to create an altar and two chairs which can still be found in St Mary’s Church in Rotherhithe.

The painting is on display in the National Gallery and was voted the nation’s favourite painting in a 2005 poll run by BBC Radio 4.

Turner and the Temeraire are featured on the new polymer £20 banknote introduced earlier this year.

The future of the scheme to create an upgraded ferry between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf will depend on negotiations with the Government on the capital’s post-COVID-19 transport funding settlement, Sadiq Khan said this week.

Green Party London Assembly member Caroline Russell asked Sadiq Khan for an update on the Rotherhithe ferry project at Mayor’s Question Time on Thursday.

Mr Khan replied that the ferry proposal “will be part of the negotiations that we have with the DfT [Department for Transport], which will be tough negotiations.

“I’m not going to pretend that the Government has not been very difficult in relation to the monies that they give to London going forward.”

Just before lockdown, Sadiq Khan was asked about the Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf ferry at the 11 March People’s Question Time event. He said that it was “full steam ahead” for the electric ferry proposal.

In the three months since the Mayor made those remarks, Transport for London’s finances have collapsed as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Earlier this year TfL published a list of future contract opportunities that revealed that it expected to award the contract for “detailed design, build, supply and performance” of the Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf ferry in March 2021.

For the first time, TfL put a cost on the proposal, categorising the contract value as being above £50 million.

This compares to a cost of more than £400 million for a bridge across the river linking Rotherhithe with the Isle of Dogs.

Thames Clippers will resume their riverbus service from Greenland Pier on Monday 15 June – but the ferry between the Doubletree Hotel and Canary Wharf remains suspended for now.

Sean Collins, Thames Clippers co-founder and CEO, said: “It is key that we can support London and its commuters with the ease of lockdown and return to work, by providing travel in a safe and comfortable way.

“My entire team has worked incredibly hard to deploy new safety measures and to ensure our passengers have a contact-free and enjoyable commuting experience.

“The unique travel experience with Thames Clippers naturally provides good personal spacing and in addition we have reduced our passenger capacity to ensure even greater social distancing, which has allowed us to increase the number of bicycles we can carry on each boat, so those who want to cycle part of their journey can do so too.”

The temporary timetable is available here.

The ferry between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf will have its final day of operations on Wednesday 25 March as the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel is closing due to the COVID-19 emergency.

Access to the pier on the Rotherhithe side is via the hotel lobby.

The main Thames Clippers service along the Thames will continue to operate on weekday rush hours only, but all daytime and weekend services will be halted.

The London Assembly transport committee has written to Transport for London in the wake of the cancellation of the Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf bridge to urge them to review and improve their business planning process, so that under-funded and undeliverable projects are not progressed as a result of unrealistic engineering proposals and low cost estimates.

The committee has also sought further detail and clarification on the proposed ferry service.

Budget projections for the bridge project soared from £120-£180 million in November 2017, to £463 million in March 2019 and now latest estimates stand at exceeding £600 million.

Navin Shah AM, chair of the Transport Committee, said:“How did TfL get its sums so wrong? This major infrastructure project is key to unlocking this part of east London in terms of active transport links, jobs and homes. 

“A ferry service between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf is a much cheaper alternative, but we have questions over its cost, frequency, commencement of the service and whether it will be free to use.”

“TfL must improve how it costs major infrastructure projects and ensure that projects of this kind have realistic costings and plans, so that Londoners are not continually disappointed time and again.” 

As a local business with its founding roots in Rotherhithe, Thames Clippers is supporting Rotherhithe Illuminated! – a community-led legacy lighting scheme – with a donation whilst also urging other local organisations and residents to donate if they can.

In commemoration of Rotherhithe’s key role in the Mayflower story – Rotherhithe Illuminated! will shine a new light on this historic part of London, illuminating elements of five historic buildings.

When lit, the spire of St Mary’s church and the chimneys of Thames Tunnel Mills and Brunel’s Engine House will be visible from Tower Bridge, London Bridge and from across the river in Wapping.

People travelling along the river on-board Thames Clippers boats at night will be able to enjoy the installation, increasing community and cultural awareness.

2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage to the new world. The Mayflower was captained by  local resident, Master Christopher Jones,  and Rotherhithe was also the ship’s home port.

Whilst organisations like Thames Clippers and Port of London Authority (PLA) have already contributed significantly towards the £95,000 overall cost of the project, £35,000 is still needed to complete the project, for which a public JustGiving page has been set up.

Transport for London commissioner Mike Brown has given an update on plans for an upgraded ferry service between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf to replace the abandoned proposed for a walking and cycling bridge.

Mr Brown was questioned by Conservative London Assembly member Keith Prince at a meeting of the City Hall transport committee.

Asked about the cost of the ferry link, Mr Brown said: “Well, I don’t have the exact figure at the moment.

“And the reason for that is that this is in the early stages, we’re looking at what land purchases may be required and where those land purchases will be – particularly on the south side of the river.

“We’re also exploring what sort of technology might be applied and what the market could deliver in terms of the greenest possible ferry.

“It’s quite challenging because these there aren’t – when you look around the world – easily deliverable green ferries at the moment, so we might have to consider whether we at least explore the the options for some hybrid ferries in this regard.

“So there is a sort of headline number allocated to the ferry in the business plan, but it’s very much at a working level and just for some of the early stages of exploration of this.

“My imperative is to get on with this as quickly as I can, notwithstanding some of the challenges with the land purchase, and with some of the other commercial issues.

“It’s pleasing to see that we have got, good support, for example, from Canary Wharf on the north side. It I’m sure we’ll get on and deliver this and it will be a great boost for access across the river at that location.”

Pressed by Mr Prince as to when passengers might be able to use the ferry, Mr Brown said: “Well, again, that’s depends on the technology. And I’m not trying to be evasive here.

“It genuinely is a discussion that we’re having ourselves with the supply chain, with potential manufacturers – with potential operators as well actually – is how quickly we can do it.

“So I’ve pushed my team … very hard on on pinning them down to a date.

“But what I don’t want to do is give an artificially optimistic date here that can’t be delivered because we haven’t done all the groundwork yet.

“There is more work to do before I can categorically tell you that.”

Local residents are being invited to show their support for a project to create a seven-metre artwork from parts of the ‘red crane’ or scotch derrick that used to stand on the riverside near Odessa Street.

Local blacksmith Kevin Boys rescued some of the parts of the crane when it was dismantled to make way for a new housing development.

The developer, Hollybrook Homes, has part-funded the artwork project and built a plinth for the sculpture on the Thames Path – but more cash is needed to complete the project.

The Rotherhithe Red Crane is now on crowdfunding site SpaceHive where it will compete with other projects for a share of funding from the Mayor of London, as well as backing from local people and businesses.

The scheme will soon be open for pledges from the public, but you can already register your support.

You can also follow @BuildCrane on Twitter.

Transport for London commissioner Mike Brown has given an update on plans for an upgraded ferry service between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf to replace the cancelled bridge project.

“We are continuing to examine options for a new ferry service, with work focused on route planning, fares, vessels, piers and connectivity to the local area,” wrote Mr Brown in his report to the TfL board.

“Initial feasibility work has been completed and an informal update was provided to the Programmes and Investment Committee in October.

“We are now continuing work to develop our requirements for the service, identify preferred infrastructure options, and determine a suitable delivery and operating model.

“By the end of November 2019 we expect to appoint a specialist consultant to support us in the next stages of work and have recently issued a Prior Information Notice seeking feedback from industry on how best to take forward the scheme.

“The work on a new ferry to improve connectivity for people who walk or cycle between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf is alongside the wider investment we are making in walking and cycling across the area, including delivery of Cycleway 4 and new cycle routes from Rotherhithe to Peckham and from Hackney to the Isle of Dogs.”

The Rotherhithe link is also featured in TfL’s new passenger pier strategy published last week. That document says that: “Options include new or improved piers at Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf, together with roll-on, roll-off electric or hybrid high frequency ferries to reduce waiting times.

“The Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf ferry would serve as a test case for assessing the feasibility of providing similar high-quality pedestrian and cycle links in other locations in east London, including Opportunity Areas, where the river is currently a barrier to encouraging healthier travel choices.”