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Naming the HS2 Tunnel Boring Machines

Image of a TBM in the factory with caption 'Your name here' on the side

Much like ships, it is traditional to name tunnel boring machines (TBMs) before they are launched and it is a long-held tunnelling tradition to give them female names.

Keep an eye on this page for announcements on future competitions. We will also release details of the competitions on our social media channels and in the news section of our website. Read on for details on our current and completed competitions.

Current competitions

We have run a national vote to name HS2’s third TBM which is set to create a one-mile twin bore tunnel under Long Itchington Wood in Warwickshire.

Three names were shortlisted from over 180 entries submitted by people in Warwickshire, who were asked to nominate the names of women closely associated with the county. A public vote followed, with the online competition ending in June. We are planning to reveal the winning name later this year.

Find out more about the shortlisted women

Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway was the wife of the country’s most famous playwright William Shakespeare. She was born in 1556 and her childhood home nearby in Stratford-upon-Avon was bought by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1892 and turned into a museum. Suggested by a resident from Nuneaton.

Image courtesy of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Dorothy Hodgkin

In 1964 Dorothy Hodgkin became the first British woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Her discoveries included confirming the structure of penicillin, and her work with insulin paved the way for it to be used on a large scale for treatment of diabetes. She died in 1994 in Shipston-on-Stour in Warwickshire. Suggested by a student at Warwickshire College Group.

Mary Ann Evans

Mary Ann Evans, better known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist, poet, journalist, translator and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. She was born in Nuneaton and her novels, most famously ‘Middlemarch’, are celebrated for their realism and psychological insights. Suggested by a pupil at North Leamington School.

Completed competitions

Chilterns tunnel

Thank you to the thousands who cast a vote for their favourite STEM pioneer in our Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) naming competition. Three were shortlisted; Florence Nightingale, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin and Marie Curie.

The winning names, Florence and Cecilia, were suggested by students at Meadow High School in Hillingdon and The Chalfonts Community College, Buckinghamshire, inspired by female scientific and medical pioneers. Florence won 40% of the vote and Cecilia a close second with 32%.

Find out more about the inspirational women our Chilterns TBMs are named after:

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale was the founder of modern nursing who came to prominence while serving as a manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War, in which she organised care for the wounded.

Nominated by: The Meadow Special Needs School, Hillingdon because:

“She was a nurse who campaigned her whole life for funding for her charity which provided health care and hospitals for poor people before we had the NHS.”

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin was an Astronomer and Astrophysicist from Buckinghamshire. She attended Cambridge University, then became Chair of Astronomy at Harvard. She was the first person to properly ‘read’ a temperature on stars. She also discovered that stars are made mainly from hydrogen and helium.

Nominated by: Chalfont Community College, Buckinghamshire because:

“Cecilia was born locally to the project being from Buckinghamshire. Cecilia is an inspiration and made an amazing, life-changing decision; to do something she actually wanted to do and became famous for her work.”