Question: what has Tom Cruise and London’s new £16bn railway got in common? Well if you managed to catch The Mummy in cinemas this summer, you’ll know that this reboot of The Mummy franchise features plenty of underground scenes. Now not only does London’s new Crossrail project provide the locations for these, but also features quite heavily in the storyline, with the opening scenes depicting Crossrail engineers tunneling through the London clay to reveal a mysterious scene.
We kicked off with a briefing in the site’s huge mess room, before descending 8 flights to the tunnels below, on our way down passing the vast concourses on ground and underground levels. Walking through the entrances to the running tunnels really gives the ‘wow’ factor. Platforms are about twice the length of standard Tube stations, and seemingly run on forever. They’re super modern too, with floor to ceiling doors keeping passengers safe from the tracks, and all mod cons about to be fitted around the station.
After a detailed tour by Phil Jones, the site manager, we met the chief archaeologist for the site, Nigel Jeffries. The former Crosse and Blackwell food factory had once stood above, and there were plenty of relics from the 1800s to be found when engineers dug out the site, including brands long since forgotten. These were perhaps not quite the same surprises that The Mummy’s characters stumbled across in the film, but there was plenty to interest nonetheless.
For the main draw of the tour, Phil had created for us a space between the existing Northern Line, and new Crossrail tunnels where the ‘eye of the needle’ phase of the project had occurred: threading a new train tunnel between live running tunnels with a mere 80cm to spare on either side. They’d erected a small cinema for us to watch the movie, with the rumbles of running trains just a metre below, enabling us to see Cruise and co in full stunning action, in the location of its original filming.
Thanks to Universal for setting this one up and inviting us along. If you didn’t catch The Mummy in cinemas, its available on 4K ultra HD, Blu-Ray, DVD and On Demand from 23rd October.