Tuesday 22 November 2016

More Notes - with pix of Lovells and outside the Pilot in the 1970s

photo R.Carr

Well - before we start this morning, here's a nice photo of a Dutch coaster at Lovell's Wharf in the 1970s


and a couple of other things.

Industrial Archaeology News - that's the newsletter of the national body.  Their Winter 2016 Newsletter has an article in it about New Donnington.  Now to you and me that's just some boring suburb to the north of Telford in the Midlands.  The article points out that the houses are unusual 'red brick, modern, with flat roofs' and built in the 1930s. Why?  Well the Government had built in the district a new RAOC Ordinance Depot and they were hoping people from Woolwich Arsenal would all go up there to work,. All those houses were built for people from Woolwich - it was a 'Shadow factory' - and there were several such set up.  All round the country Woolwichers and their expertise was settling into new towns or suburbs at the back of existing towns.

The article goes on to explain that by 1980 Donnington had become the Central Ordinance Depot (COD)  one of the largest military store complexes in Europe. It is still in use and next to it is being built a new army logistics department. (just think what that would have done for local employment figures if they had stayed here!!)


and - now - an article from the latest WADAS Newsletter (with thanks to them) - which will introduce you to Crossness

Crossness – Past, Present and Future 
 by Mike Jones  

Mike Jones acts as both Treasurer and Secretary of the Crossness Engines Trust.  He opened with a slide of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, the man renowned for building London’s Victorian sewage system - still the basis of the 21st century system.  A major element was the Crossness Outfall Works.

The London basin has several rivers flowing into the Thames.  In 1600 the population was about 1 million –in a close packed City slops were tossed into the road and an anglicised version of garder l’eau was shouted to those below - night soil men cleaned up.  Beyond the City sewage was seldom more than of local concern.  By 1860 the population was 3 million and spreading out; it is now 8 million and still growing.

Sir John Harrington invented a flushing toilet for Elizabeth I but it was a lone example – and had to be reinvented by Alexander Cummings and Joseph Bramah in the late 18th century (Thomas Crapper popularised it; he did not give his name to defecation, the term was already in use, but probably useful for publicity).  London had about 200 000 cess pits by 1810.  Accelerating replacement of these with WCs caused a greatly increased demand for water (two gallons a flush).  Cholera broke out in 1831/2 – initially thought by miasmatists to be spread by foul air – and claimed 21 000 lives.  John Snow, a doctor, marked 500 cases on a map - and found they clustered round a pump in Broad Street; the only place without a case was the local brewery.  He broke the pump handle and the cholera soon vanished.

But what sewers there were (often decrepit)were overflowing, and discharging their waste into the Thames.  A picture of the time showed a sewer outfall north of the Thames immediately opposite the intake for a south Thames water company!  Another showed Mr. Faraday paying his respects to the Thames with a visiting card – he actually tested the water with white cards to see how polluted it was – the cards could no longer be seen when an inch below the surface.  Parliament, in its still new building, was bothered by the stench and put up curtaining soaked in chloride of lime – and thought of moving to Henley.

Parliament set up a Metropolitan Sewer Commission in 1847, but it was parish based and largely ineffective.  In 1855 they set up the Metropolitan Board of Works, with Joseph Bazalgette appointed as their Chief Engineer.  His first main task was to clear the Thames of sewage; he began in 1856 and had a detailed plan ready in 1858, at a cost of £3 million (at least £3bn now).  By 1866 much of it was complete.  This was made possible by the large number of navvies becoming available as railway mania subsided.

He devised system with main sewers running parallel with the Thames to intercept sewers running towards it.  Sewage north of the river flowed down through three main sewers to a pumping station at Abbey Mills, where it was raised to flow the rest of the way to an outfall at Beckton.  A similar set of sewers south of the River flowed to Deptford to be pumped up to go to an outfall at Crossness.  The discharges were still of raw sewage but sufficiently far down stream to no longer affect the City

In 1878 there was a discharge of sewage at Beckton just before the Princess Alice disaster.

At Crossness the sewage was again pumped up for discharge at low to mid tide.  A covered, brick built, storage tank took the sewage at high tide; over it cottages for about 70 workers were built with a school and a chapel.  There was a noticeable smell attached to the outfall works, which those living there took for granted (much of London had smelly businesses) and the prevailing westerly wind took it down river.

The main buildings at Crossness and Abbey Mills were a matter of civic pride, and highly ornate.  At Crossness these comprised the Engine House, Boiler House and Chimney.  The Engine House has external carved stone embellishments, all different, and internally the central magnificent octagonal cast iron light well.  The spectacular Chimney was demolished in 1958 when no longer in use and in poor condition after over 90 years of use.  The Boiler House originally had 12 Cornish boilers, later replaced by 8 Lancashire boilers of greater efficiency.  These powered the 4 giant Beam Engines, with their 52 ton, 28ft diameter flywheels, named: Victoria, Prince Consort, Albert Edward and Alexandra (then Prince and Princess of Wales).  To further increase efficiency and cope with growing amounts of sewage they were converted in 1899 from simple to triple expansion working.  As time went on and more sewage had to be dealt with extra buildings and more steam pumps were added. The original beam engines were kept on for storm water relief until 1953, but then retired – and the engine pits filled with a weak sand/cement mix

In 1980 the original Engines and Buildings were Grade I listed. In 1985 the Crossness Beam Engines Preservation Group was formed, followed in 1988 by the Crossness Engines Trust to give it legal standing.  Sewage still comes to Crossness, now to the Thames Water Sewage Treatment plant. Arrangements for separate access had to be made, and health and safety issues resolved.  The Trust now has a lease with 102 years still to run.The central cast iron light well has been restored to its former glory, and of the four original beam engines the Prince Consort has been fully restored, and work on Victoria is in hand.  The Engine House still needs considerable restoration. Setting up the new exhibition is progressing –it should be open in 2017.

A longer term project is to reinstate the narrow gauge railway besidethe main outfall sewer from Plumstead Station to the Outfall. It would be operated with the "Woolwich" locomotice and various wagons (after restroration and track installation.


and - now - another nice picture from the 1970s.

Photo R.Carr

This is taken from somewhere near the outside of the Pilot Pub - in a road which was then known as Riverway and which went down to the river.  (I understand that in those days The Pilot was called ' Stage VII' by gasworks staff)

In the foreground is an embankment carrying a railway line running roughly on the line of West Parkside. (Oh Yes!! if they had left it our transport problems would have been so much less - which some of us did point out while it was being demolished in the late 1990s) 

The factory area behind is the Stage II Hydrocarbon Reforming Plant (lean gas - CV 310 -320 Btu) with Stage IV CRG as it was known (catalytic rich gas - CV 650 Btu). 
In the background is Gas Holder No.1 to the left and No.2 to the right
Thank you Brian for those details

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