Wednesday 12 November 2008

Crossness today

I went today to the press launch of the succeful Heritage Lottery bid at Crossness Engines Trust. Useless of me to say anything other than it went very well. I'm putting below their press release:

‘The Great Stink’ - over £1.5 million of Lottery money allocated for Crossness Pumping Station restoration. Featuring - Wesley Kerr, Chair of HLF Committee for London - Peter Bazalgette, President of Crossness Engines Trust and great-great grandson of Sir Joseph Bazalgette.

In the 150th year since the “Great Stink” of 1858, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is delighted to announce over £1.5 million in funding to help restore the Grade 1 listed Crossness Pumping Station in Bexley - the solution and product of Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s vision to save London from what 19th Century Prime Minister Disraeli called “a Stygian pool reeking with ineffable and unbearable horror”.

Wesley Kerr, Chair of the HLF Committee for London, said:

"The London Committee is thrilled that this unique part of our city's heritage, including some of the finest and largest steam engines in existence, housed in cathedral-sized buildings on an inspiring Thameside site, is to be fully restored and opened to all. The volunteers have done sterling work already. This vital part of London's past will become a cherished local community asset and an exhilarating destination for future generations."

A triumph of Victorian engineering, Crossness Pumping Station was opened in 1865 attended by the Prince of Wales and dignitaries of the time. Housing the four largest rotary beam engines in the world and currently in a dilapidated state, the Grade 1 listed Beam Engine House and Boiler House are both on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk register.

The restoration, part of a project costing £2.7 million, is due to start in early 2009. As well as conserving the buildings there will be a new exhibition exploring the social history of the site which will take in public health, pollution and the environment, encouraging visitors to celebrate the engineering triumph on their doorstep. A new cafĂ©, car parking, education room and archive and an updated website will also be developed.

Peter Bazalgette, President of the Crossness Engines Trust and great-great-grandson of Sir Joseph adds:

“The Trust’s volunteers have worked tirelessly to restore one of the magnificent engines and to create an experience which visitor’s already enjoy. This project will allow us to improve on that experience, safeguard the fabric of the buildings and make possible new community ventures that will allow this monument to Victorian engineering to take on a new lease of life.”

Malcolm Woods, Historic Buildings and Areas Advisor for English Heritage, who have also provided grants and long term advice and support to the Trust, said:

‘“Crossness Pumping Station is a spectacular example of the boundless ambition, vision, and commitment of the Victorians in transforming the public health of the capital. English Heritage is delighted to be able to support the work of the Crossness Engines Trust and can today announce a grant of £150,000 towards the repair of these fantastic buildings. The grant will go towards restoring the fabric of the buildings that house the magnificent pumping engines and secure the long-term and active future of the buildings. The announcement today of this vital funding from both English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund is a major step towards removing the buildings from our Heritage at Risk Register”.

The Pumping Station when restored will be run almost entirely by volunteers, who will lead a range of activities for schools and other visitors including workshops, talks, and guided tours, to help bring the past to life and celebrate this triumph of Victorian engineering. Beyond that there are plans to use the site for a range of community and leisure activities.

It will open for three days a week from Spring to Autumn and two days a week through the Winter. As well as exploring past achievements, it will encourage visitors to see how the past, present and future are connected, on a site where Thames Water continues the work of Bazalgette’s vision in the 21st Century.

Very significant support (both financial and otherwise) has also been forthcoming from the Department of Communities and Local Government, Thames Water, Tilfen Land, the London Borough of Bexley and the City Bridge Trust. All of this has allowed the Trust to proceed with the work that will convert the vision into reality.

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