Her Majesty The Queen returned to the Tyne Tunnels yesterday 45 years after opening the first road tunnel under the Tyne

Tyne Tunnel 2 Opened by HM The Queen

Tyne Tunnel 2 Opened by HM The Queen

The second vehicular Tyne Tunnel was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen yesterday forty five years after The Queen opened the Tyne’s first road tunnel in October 1967.

Accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, The Queen began her visit at the Jarrow junction of the Tyne Tunnels, in South Tyneside, as part of her Jubilee tour of the North East.

She began her visit by starting a showcase run of the annual Tyne Tunnel 2k Wheelchair Race. Three of the regular T2K competitors took part in the special Jubilee race, which was won by Great Britain’s Paralympic hopeful, 21 year old Mickey Bushell. Also competing were local athletes Jade Jones and Simon Lawson, both of whom are coached by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and her husband Ian.

Whilst the wheelchair athletes sprinted through the northbound (refurbished) Tyne Tunnel towards the finish line in Howdon, Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh met the Mayor and Mayoress of South Tyneside and the Chief Executive of South Tyneside Council, as well as representatives from the organisations behind the £260M New Tyne Crossing.

Councillor Eileen Leask, Mayor of South Tyneside, said: “Today will be remembered for years to come. It was a great honour to welcome Her Majesty to our borough, and wonderful to see so many local people providing a warm South Tyneside welcome. It was fantastic to have The Queen to officially open the tunnel that has made such a difference to people’s lives, especially as Her Majesty opened the first tunnel  45 years ago”.

The Royal visitors were escorted during their visit by Mr Trevor Jackson, Managing Director of TT2, and Mr Barry Rowland, Clerk of the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority.

Whilst in Jarrow The Queen met members of the local community from both South and North Tyneside who were actively involved  in supporting their neighbours through the construction works.

The Duke of Edinburgh met representatives from Bouygues Travaux Publics, the main Design and Build contractor. Mr Nicolas Caille, the Project Director, introduced staff from across the organisation with the Chairman of the Bouygues Group, Mr Martin Bouygues, also present to meet the Royal Party.

Mr Caille said “I am incredibly proud to see Her Majesty officially open the new tunnel. Thousands of people were involved in its construction, and it is a wonderful feeling to have our work recognised by The Queen”.

Before departing from Jarrow, Her Majesty was invited to plant a commemorative oak tree. It will form part of The Queen’s Jubilee Wood, which aims to plant 6 million native trees across Britain. The oak tree will be recorded in the Royal Record of Trees, established to commemorate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Giselle Greulich-Smith, aged 12, presented Her Majesty with a posie of flowers before the Royal Party left South Tyneside and travelled through the new vehicle tunnel to the Howdon Toll Plaza in North Tyneside.

After meeting the Chairman of North Tyneside Council and his consort, the Chief Executive of North Tyneside Council and North Tyneside MP Mrs Mary Glindon, the Royal Party then congratulated the wheelchair athletes, who had completed their race at the toll plaza.

The Elected Mayor of North Tyneside, Mrs. Linda Arkley, was also presented to Her Majesty The Queen. She said: “It has been a great honour to welcome The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh to North Tyneside for the official opening of the new Tyne Tunnel. The tunnel has opened up so many improved opportunities for the people of North Tyneside, and beyond, that it truly has transformed  peoples’ lives. It is a fitting tribute that the second tunnel should be opened by Her Majesty, and we are incredibly grateful that she has kindly agreed to be here today”.

During her visit to the Howdon Toll Plaza north of the Tyne Tunnels, The Queen was introduced to a group of TT2 staff, with Mr. Leslie Tennant, the Chairman of TT2, present to welcome the Royal Party to the Tyne Tunnels.

Trevor Jackson, TT2’s Managing Director, said “It has been an incredible experience to host a visit by Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh. We are delighted that The Queen chose to say a few words about the Tyne Tunnels and we feel honoured that she has recognised the achievements the project has made”.

The Queen was also introduced to representatives from the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority (TWITA), the Project Promoter.

Mr Paul Fenwick, TWITA’s  Project Director, introduced some of those at the heart of the Authority’s project team, which has spanned a lifetime of more than 15 years. Councillor David Wood, Chairman of TWITA, greeted the Royal party upon their arrival. He said:

“I have been lucky enough to witness history in the making on more than one occasion during this project, from the lowering of the river tunnel sections into the river bed, to driving through the new tunnel at its midnight commissioning. But to be present today at the official opening of the new tunnel by Her Majesty The Queen is something I will never forget. The New Tyne Crossing project has changed the lives of so many motorists and local people. It certainly is a project we can be proud of”.

During the Royal Party’s visit to the northern side of the Tyne Tunnels His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh met representatives from community organisations, and individuals with a special interest in the scheme. He was also introduced to officials behind the legal and financial aspects of the scheme, as well as some of those responsible for designing safety into the tunnels .

Before taking leave, Her Majesty The Queen delivered a speech in which she noted that the project had brought together the communities either side of the Tyne, and which had transformed the lives of thousands of motorists. She expressed her delight at returning to the Tyne Tunnels forty five years after opening the first road tunnel.

Before leaving the Tyne Tunnels site The Queen was presented with a posie of flowers from North Tyneside school girl Lily Turnbull, aged 6.

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