Report - - London Bridge Sewer - 2014 | UK Draining Forum | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - London Bridge Sewer - 2014


living in a cold world
Regular User
The River Walbrook was a relatively short tributary of the River Thames, but provided the ideal location to base the Roman city of Londinium. Fresh springs upstream produced water for the settlement, and the downstream flow allowed waste to be easily removed from the thriving community.

However as the City rapidly outgrew itself the waste removal became a problem, and the small river soon became a slow moving sesspit. The now-trendy area of Shoreditch took it's name from the "Sewer Ditch" that ran straight though it. And is probably the reason East London still stinks like shit sometimes.

In the 15th Century the lower reaches of the river were bricked over to hide the open sewer and enable further development of the streets above. And by the mid 16th Century the entire course had been bricked and paved over. By the time Bazalgette's interceptory system was implemented in the 1850s, the Walbrook (like almost every other Thames tributary) had been integrated into the rest of the London Main Drainage network.

This means that nowadays the actual course of the subterranean Walbrook is a trivial pursuit. It has seemingly been diverted repeatedly, and the original springs now feed the extensive London Bridge Sewer network, which has spurs that lead all over the City of London and out in to Shoreditch and the east end. The majority of these branches are 5 foot in height at their largest sections, and are not the most hospitable of places.

A rough overlay of the London Bridge Sewer main spurs compared to the original Walbrook course.


Parts of the network are also known as "Last Bastion" and "Stoop's Limit", dubbed by those who discovered the tunnels in more recent times. I took these photos over 3 visits with the company of either GE066 or Ojay. Thanks to both for the stoops, slides and other comical moments.

Our journey starts approximately mid-way up the western branch in the Moorgate area. The right hand side tunnel here disappears under a Crossrail site, hence the sensors and monitoring equipment fixed to the ceiling.

Count the construction techniques and brick-colours on your way down.


Downstream from here we reach a large domed junction point where two side pipes empty into the flow. The image isn't great for perspective, but it's maybe 20-25 foot high.


The left hand pipe in the above image starts as a 5 foot egg, and gradually gets smaller.


It eventually then splits off into three 4 foot tall egg sections.


Returning back to the mainline sewer the pipe opens up to a good 10 foot in height, and passes more smaller side tunnels, some of which are bricked up form previous redirection works.




The pipe size then drops to a 6 foot arch as it approaches the Bank of England.


It bends around in an S shape before opening up into a slightly larger and older chamber. Walking through here churned up a high level of methane.


Turning around from the shot above takes you into this 5 foot RCP section, which if I was to have a guess would be underneath the Bank itself.


A short walk later the Low Level 2 interceptor takes the flow away, leaving you with a nice dry walk down some boring concrete.


Until a little further later where side pipes start spewing flow into the mainline again, leaving a slippy silt and grease sediment along the base of the pipe.


Carrying on down we arrive at the split between the western (London Bridge Sewer) and eastern (Shoreditch Sewer) branches. They would have originally flown completely separate, but at some stage a couple of centuries ago they were amalgamated into the same network.


The Shoreditch Sewer starts off with some form of reinforced section, but I have no idea what it is they actually used. Some kind of ancient handlaid cement?


Around the corner is a large construction shaft with a couple of gantry ladders taking you up to a side shaft with manhole access.


The eastern branch then opens into this larger brick oval, with interesting patch-up work and repairs.


And then arrives at another split. The left-hand tunnel being a shrinking 5 foot egg with an army of rats residing in it. The roar of an interceptor could be heard up ahead, but I would have had to fight through far more rats than I was prepared to so headed back after 200m or so.


And up to the bottom of a staircase that brings the flow down from a higher level.


At the top is this narrow 5 foot egg that leads off into the distance. I went as far as the ladder and saw no change in the distance so sacked it.



Returning to the mainline and heading downstream there are further smaller branches that lead off to local sewers.


And leads down to a tall yellow brick chamber with a drop tunnel to the inceptor below, and an 8 foot flap between us and the last 20 metres to the Thames.




28DL Full Member
Wow, that's really interesting.

Top photos too :)


Staff member
Great pics, and certainly a grim system compared to a lot of what we've all encountered, and a good reason for that blight you suffered ;)

The 4 gas was certainly twitching down there and not happy in 'stoops limit' at the point he had the good sense to turn back

It would appear the re-enforced concrete tunnel runs below the vaults of the Bank of England

All good fun though and finally glad to have seen this system after putting it off for so long :thumb

Squirrell 911

Regular User
Good set of interesting brickwork there. I guess the reinforcement below bank of England is to do with the thicker floor of the vault and not wanting people to tunnel in.


The Green Giraffe
28DL Full Member
Pictures are amazing, I really like the different colours. Great write up as well :thumb

Oxygen Thief

Staff member
Bleugghhh sewage.

Good pictures though. Wonder how much bonus the fibre optic installers got paid?

The Wombat

Mr Wombat
28DL Full Member
Top notch photos,and a good report :thumb


Bespectacled & irrelevant
Regular User
Yeah, really nice that mate. The chamber in the second picture could almost tempt me into a sewer.

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