Friday, 22 May 2020

Charlton's Water Works

Now - I put this picture on the GIHS Facebook page and asked people to tell me where it was

Now only one person got it right - Congratulations Peter Luck - it's Woolwich Road looking east towards the bottom of Charlton Lane.   Here's another picture from some years later

Now, none of you, not even Peter twigged why I thought the picture was interesting.  Well its the big building centre left.  Its a water works building - and this is just the first one - you never knew Charlton had two water works, did you?

The next bit comes from the estimable History of Charlton by the late John Smith.  He says that in 1857 the Kent Water Company dug a deep well at Charlton.  Its actually marked on the 1867 Ordnance Survey Map.  They built this pumping station and installed a pumping engine from Harvey & Co. of Hayle in Cornwall.  But within six years it was taken out of use because the well was becoming contaminated with river water - and a nearby new sewer didn't help. So it was shut down and the engine was sent to the Cold Bath Well at Deptford - that's one of the wells at the Brookmill Site which also was originally built by the Kent Water Co.  The engine seems to have ended up however at the Crayford Water Works, which was rebuilt in 1954.  A history of Crayford says that two statues of Sir Walter Scott were removed from the decorative metalwork on the engine and preserved. Has anyone got them??

So - the earliest of the Charlton Water Works closed down and was let to a building contractor. From the earlier photograph above it appears to be the sort of building you expect of a 19th century waterworks.  In the lower picture it has lost most of its decoration but has had an extension built.  It was then in use by the Grafton Engineering Co.  There seem to be many Grafton Engineering Cos around and this is described as being 'a general engineers and cabinet makers'.

so - what happened to Charlton and its water supply. More to come later..................

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