Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Riverside Resource Recovery in Belevedere

The following, slightly edited, piece appeared in the July Newsletter of the Woolwich and District Antiquarian Society.  It is by Richard Buchanan, who tells us that some later adjustments may be made to the text, after which it will be circulated to the membership of the Blackheath Scientific Society. Thanks to WADAS, the Blackheath Scientific Society and Richard for allowing us to use this piece - and any additions and adjustments will be passed on here.

Norman Road, Belevedere.

Twelve members of the Blackheath Scientific Society went to the Riverside Resource Recovery Plant in Norman Road, Belvedere on the 12th June. They were taken round, following an introductory talk by the Technical and Development Manager. It had cost £550m to build, with pay back expected within a decade,
The site, is beside the Thames just downstream from the Crossness Sewage Works, and had been highly contaminated borax works. Cory bought this in 1991, planning to build an incinerator. Bexley Council refused planning permission until an appeal, detailing the modern environmental techniques to be used, reached the Secretary of State - who granted permission in 2006, after which Bexley became fully supportive,

First Norman Road itself was rebuilt to take heavy lorries. It had been little more than a track across the marsh and the ground below needed consolidation for which bottom ash from elsewhere was used. The work involved land drainage - a significant subsurface river flows across the road and needed a culvert. This was done with the nature reserve in mind - one aspect was the temporary relocation of three water voles until he work was done. After their return they bred successfully and raised the population to 140 - enough to stock another reclamation. They and other environmental benefits of the works, cost £75m.  

The firm established Cory Environmental Trust in 2003 to provides grants to community schemes local to its business.

Cory are now commissioning their “Energy From Waste Facility". The latest methods are used to minimise flue emissions of dioxins, N0x, halogens and sulphur, keeping them below European limits. The chimney produces no visible emission apart from a slight shimmer. The plant takes 670 000 tonnes per annum of residual waste which would otherwise go to landfill  that is left after various London Boroughs have done their recycling and produces on average 72 MW, 66 MW exported to the grid.  Their main preoccupation is to burn waste in an environmentally friendly manner and avoid polluting the atmosphere - not to maximise generation - although they achieve 27'% efficiency, currently an industry best for such a facility. There are plans to improve this by selling waste heat. Heat is recovered in a water tube boiler, which produces superheated steam for the turbine whose exhaust is condensed, producing water that is recirculated to the boiler and warm air to feed the furnaces. Equipment is duplicated so that the plant can continue working even if something breaks down or needs maintenance. Only the electrical generator is unduplicated and even if that is not working the waste can still be burnt.

Only Bexley Council delivers residual waste by road, about 15% of the total. The rest comes from upriver boroughs by barge (which otherwise passed by on the way to landfill sites in Essex) for which a new jetty was needed. This is 201m long, connected to the plant by a 160m long pier (apart from the Thames Barrier it is the largest structure built in the river since the 19C). Even so the effect of the outflow from the sewage works means the jetty is not far enough into the river to avoid the occasional need for dredging. Two travelling cranes on the jetty take waste containers from 'barges moored alongside and put them on tipper trailers. These are towed by diesel tractors, across a weighbridge at the foot of the pier, into the plant. They had looked at other ways of transferring the waste, but had settled for one where failure of an individual unit would not cause a stoppage. Neither would failure (or maintenance) of one crane. 

At the plant the containers are backed onto one of several tipping bays and the waste is shot into a vast storage bunker, 25m high (partly below ground level - the whole building is only 27m high), The containers  taper slightly, being wider at the mouth, to ease discharge but even so there are hydraulic pokers to dislodge  stuck waste. Occasionally, when a container is emptied a lump of hot waste will spontaneously combust in air - there is a water hose to quench it. An exit weighbridge checks the amount delivered. The bunker normally holds 8000 tonnes, but 11000 on a Friday, and as much as they can get in on Christmas Eve, to give a four day supply. Depending on the quality of the waste (that from Kensington & Chelsea is better, with much restaurant waste) they might do a crude sort, using a grab crane (again one of two) over the bunker.  Air is sucked down through the waste bunker and into the furnaces to prevent dust flying and to control odours. (At the end of the row of tipping bays is an unloading bay that juts into the bunker, and can be used to remove decomposing waste if the plant were to be shut down.)

However the grab cranes main task is to load 30 tonnes of waste per hour into three high level hoppers, each feeding a furnace line, Below the hopper a hydraulic ram pushes the waste onto a moving grate, in several sections, agitated to ensure even combustion, This operation is controlled automatically, maintaining the furnace temperature above 8500C, typically 950°C. When the waste is burnt out (after a transit time of about an hour) the grate feeds the ash residue (about 26% of the in feed) including large unburnt lumps (e.g. of resolidified glass or aluminium, even charred tree trunks) into a bottom ash hopper. This has to be emptied on a two-daily basis; special blue containers are used, and taken away in barges for recycling. This involves extraction of various metals etc., glass lumps are crushed and sorted into sand  at 4mm; aggregate; and coarse aggregate at 1Omm, for road foundations.  Glass is no longer colour sorted for recycling to glassworks but, crushed, to the construction industry. 
The whole plant employs 63 people, though with the waste bunker charged and the bottom ash bunker clear, the automation means that only two are needed at night.   

Richard Buchanan              .

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Joe's pictures

GIHS member Joe has shown us his albums of pictures taken along the East Greenwich riverside
- we've been scan scan scan with them all day  - there is a very small selection below with more to come.

and by the way - this afternoon has seen the relaunch of Rich Sylvesters East Greenwich History Map - more to come about that as well.
(thanks for the chocolate biscuits Rich)

Lovells Wharf crane

Lovells Wharf Crane - with the Grand Turk in the background
and the Goodyear airship in the sky

Boats and bits at the current boatyard adjacent to what was Piper's Wharf

Gantries, silos and boats on the riverside wharf at what was Amylum/Tunnel Glucose

Looking inland from Morden Wharf - buildings of Amylum glucose refinery
and the Greenwich Distillery

Gantries on what was Victoria Deep WaterWharf
with some of the Bay Wharf barge slips on the right

Modern Anchor Iron Wharf with plaques, removed from earlier buildings
on site about previous owners

Friday, 6 July 2012


Great Charlton tram pictures this morning on the Charlton Champion blog Charlton Champion

Here's some more pictures to complement that:

and - the Charlton Champion site now includes a link to pictures of the Tramatorium http://www.friendsreunited.co.uk/charlton-trams/b/20ff175e-8c90-4017-ba5b-a08600ad4833/

The yard at Feltram Way - The London County Council repair depot

Use of a special tram telephone box - a box like this stood near the Blackwall Tunnel entrance - suspect it has gone as part of an Olympics tidying up process - is it still there??

A tram arrives at its final destination at Penhall Road tramatorium

Woolwich tram turning circle

The paint shop at Feltram Way depot

Happy to add more pictures if there is popular demand!!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Greenwich Then and Now - new book

Popular local historians Julian Watson and Barbara Ludlow have produced another local history picture book which we must all rush out and buy.

As ever, their comments on the pictures they have chosen is superb - and the work should be bought for that very good reason.

The Sea Witch on the East Greenwich riverside - this picture is in the book but the
reproduction above is my scan from the original
Since this is an industrial history blog we need to look at the pictures they have chosen of Greenwich industries - and since this is a general book, aimed, I guess, at the tourist trade, they are few and far between. Their picture of Billingsgate Dock - a subject which Barbara is particularly strong on - also reminds us of the Noakesoscope (a suitably obscure bit of Greenwich's past).

A nice picture shows us Lovibond's brewery - and buildings which are still with us, although rarely recognised for what they are.

"River Bank, East Greenwich' shows us Lovell's Wharf but does not name it - a pity, since many of the new residents there will not know this is a picture of the site of their homes. The riverside pictures run on down the road to Woolwich - with a view of the Siemens works from Cox' Mount and some views of the Dockyard gateway - but what a pity the Royal Arsenal is only represented by Beresford Gate - and that there is barely a mention of our ground breaking cable making and communications industries.

But never mind - this book is to attract newcomers and visitors and to give them a quick run through what Greenwich Borough was in the past and what it is now. And that it does very well.

The 'old' photographs come from the Martin collection - and it is a pity that, in what is presumably an attempt to make them look old, they are printed in a sort of bright ginger colour, which must have been intended as sepia. This includes a picture taken as recently as 1968! They are also somewhat blurred and again, it should have been remembered that older pictures are generally much clearer than modern ones.

But never mind - Julian and Barbara's input is well worth putting up with a few dodgy prints - and I am sure the book is available from all good bookshops in Greenwich, and elsewhere. Its published by the History Press, £12.99. Buy it, read it, and tell your friends about it.