The idea of a fixed link between Britain and France was mooted early in the seventeenth century when the Amiens Academy in France launched a competition to find better ways of crossing the English Channel (Bedelian, 1995). A proposal for a tunnel under the English Channel came in 1802 when the idea was put before Napoleon and at least 26 other proposals were rejected from that time up to the late 1970s, principally because of concerns over national security. In 1973 work had begun on a pilot phase of a government-guaranteed project. However, failure to ratify the Treaty resulted in the project being cancelled in 1975, due to a lack of public funding and escalating costs (Fisher, 1993). Vickerman (1994) notes that the lack of an independent ‘champion’, able to exercise both political and financial influence, was a major factor in the project’s collapse. Although the scheme was officially abandoned in 1975, pressure from three main sources still existed. First the private sector was hungry for major new projects for both construction and financial organizations. Second, the European Commission was keen to improve European transport networks. (Indeed, these two worked together on a report for the Commission by Coopers and Lybrand on the subject.) Thirdly, the two national railway companies put forward their own scheme for a single small bore tunnel in 1978. Hence the idea for a tunnel was resurrected and by 1984 a group of contractors and banks had set up the Channel Tunnel Group. This development was coupled with the setting up of an equivalent French group (Francemanche SA) and together, as CTG-FM, they submitted a proposal for a twin bored rail tunnel scheme, based upon an earlier proposal from the 1970s. (This was in October, 1985 and followed an ‘Invitation to Promoters’ issued by the British and French Governments in February, 1985.) The British response to the CTG-FM proposal was to concern itself with the feasibility of private finance, while the French started to conduct regional level consultations to prepare for a rapid conclusion of the public inquiries necessary under the French planning system. A group of banks examined the financial feasibility of the proposal and concluded in favour of the CTG-Francemanche rail tunnel scheme, but reported that guarantees 66were imperative for successful financing (Vickerman, 1994). Margaret Thatcher and Francois Mitterand gave their support to the Channel Tunnel scheme in January 1986 and in February of that year the Treaty of Canterbury was signed, which gave intergovernmental sanction for a fixed link. This treaty was later ratified by the UK and France in July 1987, and a concession was formally awarded to CTG-FM on 14 March 1986. Contrary to the wishes of the promoters of the project there were to be no governmental financial guarantees for the project, the financing of which was to be left to the market. The building contractors which had been so much a part of CTG-Francemanche separated from this consortium and formed the Anglo-French joint venture TransManche Link (TML), which in May 1986 was awarded the contract to design, build and commission the tunnel, for clients (Eurotunnel, Britain and Eurotunnel, France) that at the time were no more than two pieces of paper. CTG-FM later became the British and French subsidiaries of Eurotunnel, which was incorporated in September 1986. Eurotunnel did not acquire ‘a mind of its own’ until October 1986 when the delayed Equity 2 share issue was made. The share issue was conditional upon the promoters of the project, the banks and the building contractors, giving up control of Eurotunnel, so permitting the entry of institutional investors and an independent majority on its board (Benard and Morton, 1989). This was almost nine months after the award of the Concession to CTG-FM and five months after TML was awarded the Construction Contract. The Equity 3 flotation brought together various agreements, legislation and contracts plus the marketing and equity package for the project and took place on what became known as ‘Impact Day’. Hence the twinned companies were floated on the London and Paris stock exchanges in 16 November, 1987, just a month after the ‘Black Monday’ global stock market crash, which could have undone the whole thing (Benard and Morton, 1989). Eurotunnel supplanted CTG-FM as the holder of the 55-year design, construct and operating concession (since extended to 99 years), and was faced with a construction contract drawn up before their birth. (At the end of the concession the project will revert to the two governments.) The absence of an operator in place as a client from the outset of the project has been referred to as a ‘polo mint’ project structure (Morton, 1995a). This, and its implications for design, development and the overall management of the project is a key issue for discussion below.