Early next year, HS2 will launch the two Herrenknecht TBMs that will construct the Northolt Tunnel East travelling through Brent and Ealing. The TBMs will set off towards Greenpark Way in Greenford, travelling 5.5km from HS2’s Victoria Road site, near to new Old Oak Common station.

Following convention, they will be named after influential women and HS2 is asking the public to vote for two names from a shortlist of five women with connections to Ealing.

The shortlist is:

  • Amy Barbour-James (1906-1988) Amy was born in Acton to Guyanese parents and was active in the civil rights movement. She was involved in the African Progress Union and the League of Coloured Peoples, becoming secretary of the latter in 1942.
  • Lady Anne Byron (1792-1860) Lady Byron was an educational reformer and philanthropist. In 1834 she established the Ealing Grove School – the first school for the working classes, in an era when education was mainly for the wealthy.
  • Brigid Brophy (1929-1995) Ealing-born Brigid was a British writer and campaigner whose work focused on social reform, homosexual parity, animal rights and humanism. She helped establish the Public Lending Right, allowing authors to claim a payment every time their book was borrowed from a public library.
  • Emily Sophia Taylor (1872-1956) Emily was a midwife, providing services for women who could not afford care, and became Ealing’s first female mayor in 1938. She was an active member of the Education Committee and the Child Welfare Committee and helped establish the Perivale Maternity Hospital in 1937.
  • Susan Mary Smee (1859-1949) Susan became Acton’s first female mayor in 1924, the first Justice of the Peace and the first curator of Gunnersbury Park Museum. She is described as a pioneer who helped other women to follow her example.

HS2 head of community engagement Maddelyn Sutton said giving the TBMs names with local connections was a way to celebrate the achievements of women and for the local community to get involved in “this once in a generation infrastructure project”.  

Both TBMs are 170m long and weigh more than 1,700 tonnes. They will be operated by Skanska Costain Strabag Joint Venture (SCS JV), HS2’s main works civils contractor building the London Tunnels.

The two TBMs will build nearly 13km of tunnel, stretching from Old Oak Common station to West Ruislip. The other 8km of the tunnel are under construction with two further TBMs, Sushila and Caroline, already 1.6km into their journey.

The voting form can be accessed here

Voting opens today and closes on Monday, September 4, 2023.