The forgotten 1802 plan for an underwater brick tunnel to France

Before Brexit, the barrier between the UK and Europe was a physical one, a turbulent body of water known as the English Channel. In 1993 the underwater engineering masterpiece known as The Chunnel breached that gap, connecting England and France, and realizing a dream that was almost 200 years old.

Public Domain Review tells the story of a long forgotten innovator, Frenchman Albert Mathieu who dreamed of a connector between the two nations. In the year 1802 he drew up plans for an underwater brick tunnel. It would be wide enough for carriage traffic and ventilated by brick chimneys.

The ambitious mining engineer also envisioned a station for changing horses midway, and exhibited the plans publicly, picking up a very important backer — Napoleon Bonaparte.

"Bonapate brought it to the attention of the British opposition politician Charles James Fox, who is said to have reacted enthusiastically. However, the project was abandoned with the return of war."Geopolitics sank this horse-powered version of the Chunnel, but today Eurostar trains run daily between Calais and Kent, and all it took was a few billion dollars, 13,000 workers and almost 200 years to make the dream come true.

See also: Tiled tunnel under Belgian river "staggeringly monotonous"