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Report - - North Western Storm Relief (AKA Labyrinth), London, 2013 - 2018 | UK Draining Forum | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - North Western Storm Relief (AKA Labyrinth), London, 2013 - 2018


TheVicar

Loyal to the Drain
Regular User
Visited with ConcreteJungle and Tallginge on separate occasions.

After nearly two weeks of high temperatures and not a drop of rain for some time, it had been another very hot day and the evening was not all that much cooler in London as I parked up in Notting Hill with ConcreteJungle back in July 2013.

I don't usually include a map, but to better explain what is going on here, I have decided to use one with letters to denote the respective sections A-E:
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Within 10 minutes we were below ground where the air was a little cooler but equally as humid and were now standing above the Middle Level Sewer #1.
From here a ladder led down to the bottom of some solid stone steps which 'water' from the overflow falls before entering the beautiful 5' two tone blue/red brick North Kensington Relief Sewer tunnel running west that meets up with the huge North Western Storm Relief Sewer. (Following four pics are at point B on map)

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What I really love about this junction is that the 5' NKRS meets the 8'6" NWSRS roughly at an angle of 45 degrees and then proceeds to dissect it and continue its journey to the west. This angle provides for some stunning brickwork of the highest visual and engineering standards, with each brick that seamlessly joins the two tunnels made especially for its place. The older NKRS proceeds to double back on the NWSRS dissecting it two more times further downstream. (Following pics are at point C on map)

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On my first visit with ConcreteJungle I didn't follow the NWSRS downstream from here on this occasion as these steps were incredibly slippery as you can see, there is no handrail and the steps themselves actually tilt forwards!
The slipperiness is caused by the fact that there is a constant flow of nasty sewage from the northern reaches of the Middle Level Sewer #2 which is a shame as this is an otherwise pristine brick tunnel.
From here we headed upstream where the tunnel reduces in size by a foot to a still very impressive 7'6". Built 94 years ago, it is quite modern as London drainage goes, but you could be forgiven for thinking it was much younger considering the fine condition it is in.

A slow walk of about 25 minutes from here saw us passing a number of manhole shafts, and a more modern concrete junction which supplies the constant flow of filth from the Middle Level Sewer #2 sewer that we had the pleasure of walking through. Having passed this junction with the sewer, the tunnel was now clean and practically dry and before long we had reached another impressive staircase leading up to a large overflow chamber for the Ranelagh sewer at a point where the Ranelagh takes a turn of 90 degrees. Here you can see a nice mix of yellow, blue and red bricks.
This chamber is often referred to as the Shelf Life Junction due to the huge shelf of fungus growing from the wall - Mmm delicious.
(Following pics are at point A on map)

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My next visit with Tallginge involved us entering the drain at point B on the map again and descending that dodgy staircase very carefully and slowly using studded waders.
The first thing we came upon was this manhole shaft with seriously worn brickwork caused by the severe swinging of the iron chains under storm conditions. These pictures may appear quite serene and indeed a lot of the time it is rather quiet down here apart from the sound of wheels going over a distant manhole cover or a tube train passing by but when the rains come this place very soon becomes a deadly torrent of filth which fills straight up to the tunnel roof.
We are now at point D on the map where the NKRS dissects the NWSR again this time at a tighter angle than before, taking with it the filth that has been flowing though it from it's northern reaches.
The term Labyrinth is not an undeserved moniker considering these crazy angles. The workmanship that went into forming the brickwork at these dissections of the NKRS and the newer NWSR are an amazing work of art that nobody gets to see but that real people put hard work into doing properly. Those workers are sadly dead and gone but the fruit of their hard work still channels the shite of all and sundry to the treatment works or into the Thames.



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Continued.

 
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TheVicar

Loyal to the Drain
Regular User
From here the NWRS sewer is a spraycreted featureless tunnel as it continues down to Holland Park Road where we reach point E on the map. Here you can see the NKRS once again returning to meet the NWSR sewer. This time you will notice that it passes through the storm relief as a concrete hump rather than actually intercepting it which is a bit of a shame.

However if you look carefully in the bottom left hand corner of the penultimate photo you will see a bizarrely small pipe through which you can hear the NKRS gurgling away.

The final photo shows what is beyond this interception, a less than glamourous end to what is a rather impressive storm relief sewer so far. The tunnel becomes backlogged with a foul soup of repugnant minging slurry stinking of hydrocarbons and methane. It was here that we decided it would be best to turn around and call it a night as it was a very unpleasant atmosphere.

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I was a little disappointed to find that there was not one more final interaction between the NKRS and the NWSR at the point on the map south west of the point marked E, as I was expecting to find evidence of the NKRS joining the NWSR for the final time as well as an overflow point for Counters Creek sewer but this was not the case.
This is a perfect example of where sometimes exploring something raises more questions than you set out to find answers for.

This leaves the question of A. Where the flow from the NKRS actually goes to?
It would also suggest that B. The Counters Creek sewer does not overflow into the NWSR sewer south of Holland Park Road.
If anyone has any info to clarify or correct (with evidence) of what happens with regards to these two point then that would be most useful. :D
 
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Ojay

Admin
Staff member
Admin
Great report and explained well mate :thumb

The downstream bit where a reverse weir serves as the outfall at the Thames is quite an unpleasant trip, you did well to turn back, never again!

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I should be able to clarify the Counters point, just need to look at my pics and some bits first, I'll be in touch ;)
 

TheVicar

Loyal to the Drain
Regular User
It would have been good to have seen that reverse weir overflow at the end Ojay, but having seen your photo previously I at least knew what was there.
What I would be interested to know is how the tunnel is pumped out so that it remains almost empty from Holland Park Avenue all the way to the end. Do you have another photo of the pumps etc. that keep the tunnel dry?

With regards to the other photo, the interesting thing here is that although that clearly shows an overflow from the Counters Creek, we could find no evidence in the NWSR of where this enters as there were no more connections south of Holland Park Avenue. This makes me conclude that the overflow you've shown, instead enters the very end of the NKRS (which has already vanished from sight) and now follows a more modern tunnel, not shown on these old maps, that takes the flow elsewhere.
 

Bolts

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Epic stuff. Need to get down south and see some London brick for myself!
 

tallginge

more tall than ginger tho.....
Regular User
Fantastic reportage mate, bang on that. Chuckled all the way through reading it to the bristol lads on our way home yesterday! Yer right about it raising more questions than answers and yeah a very good point about where does the 'water' between the big weir/NKSR and that reverse waterfall go? Would it really be pumped out somewhere - i doubt it but i suppose it could be. Good times down there, glad to know that i'd actually visited shelf life before , I just didn't know it! I vow never again to read reports wankered and then profess a junction is somewhere it isn't, even if i think i know what i'm talking about - it causes much confusion! I'll get round to doing a report and sticking some pics up of us on them stairs eventually, mate, jeez they were sketch! Got some more lids to lift first i think. Studded wad0rz ftw tho
 

tallginge

more tall than ginger tho.....
Regular User
Went to have a look around the counters creek/ nksr/ nwsr area over the weekend (among other things ;)) to see if I could clear a few things up. Stooping up the 5ft NKSR from near the counters creek I came across a 9" pipe dropping in to the soffit. If that 9" pipe in your penultimate pic is what i think it is @TheVicar then I've found the other end of it! I believe the pic was taken from where the NKSR and the NWSR cross each other, but I can't be sure how much they "clash" by as obviously you can't see the invert of one from the other. Turning around and walking downstream I came to a concrete chamber. The small flow in the NKSR (which enters from the NWSR - it's dry in the penultimate pic - there's a timber weir further up) enters the chamber and exits on the right down an 8ft drop. If for any reason the NKSR takes heavier flows, timber boards straight ahead can be lifted manually and it'd drop straight into the counters. You can see these boards from the counters creek side, in the pic below, which looks upstream. Also from the counters creek side you can see where this small flow drops in to a smaller pipe. This goes under the counters creek, perpendicular to it, then through the two holes in your pic @Ojay and drops down again. The NWSR is in this area but we saw no connections at all when we walked for 15 mins downstream of the "ramp" so we don't think it re-enters it at all. Instead I suspect it goes to a nearby branch of the Hammersmith Storm Relief (the duplication branch no less) along with overflows from the counters as partially shown in the pdf linkbelow. Another nearby lid shown in the link will answer it once and for all, hopefully! I only wish i'd seen this map when I was in town. I would very much like a full copy of this map!

Hope this hasn't made the confusion worse.

https://counterscreek.thameswater.co.uk/-/media/Site-Content/Thames-Water/Counters-Creek/Holland-SIP.pdf

 

TheVicar

Loyal to the Drain
Regular User
Went to have a look around the counters creek/ nksr/ nwsr area over the weekend (among other things ;)) to see if I could clear a few things up. Stooping up the 5ft NKSR from near the counters creek I came across a 9" pipe dropping in to the soffit. If that 9" pipe in your penultimate pic is what i think it is @TheVicar then I've found the other end of it! I believe the pic was taken from where the NKSR and the NWSR cross each other, but I can't be sure how much they "clash" by as obviously you can't see the invert of one from the other. Turning around and walking downstream I came to a concrete chamber. The small flow in the NKSR (which enters from the NWSR - it's dry in the penultimate pic - there's a timber weir further up) enters the chamber and exits on the right down an 8ft drop. If for any reason the NKSR takes heavier flows, timber boards straight ahead can be lifted manually and it'd drop straight into the counters. You can see these boards from the counters creek side, in the pic below, which looks upstream. Also from the counters creek side you can see where this small flow drops in to a smaller pipe. This goes under the counters creek, perpendicular to it, then through the two holes in your pic @Ojay and drops down again. The NWSR is in this area but we saw no connections at all when we walked for 15 mins downstream of the "ramp" so we don't think it re-enters it at all. Instead I suspect it goes to a nearby branch of the Hammersmith Storm Relief (the duplication branch no less) along with overflows from the counters as partially shown in the pdf linkbelow. Another nearby lid shown in the link will answer it once and for all, hopefully! I only wish i'd seen this map when I was in town. I would very much like a full copy of this map!
Excellent work sir.
I do believe you have found the other end of what is the 9 inch pipe in my penultimate photo, so you were basically inside the ramp section of the NWSR (point E on the map)!
The rest of what you have described now makes perfect sense and I believe answers the two questions that I finished my report with, which is rather nice :)
I have now updated the map with a point F that shows where all this confusing 'labyrinth' of tunnels and drop shafts takes place.



map2.jpg
 

Ojay

Admin
Staff member
Admin
Excellent work sir.
I do believe you have found the other end of what is the 9 inch pipe in my penultimate photo, so you were basically inside the ramp section of the NWSR (point E on the map)!
The rest of what you have described now makes perfect sense and I believe answers the two questions that I finished my report with, which is rather nice :)
I have now updated the map with a point F that shows where all this confusing 'labyrinth' of tunnels and drop shafts takes place.
No I don't think he was inside the NKRS under the relief weir, he was pointing out that 250mm connection which serves as a way of draining that section behind the 'ramp' which doubles up as detention during storm conditions is more like it's real function
 

tallginge

more tall than ginger tho.....
Regular User
I think i was under that concrete ramp/ weir mate but yeah that 9" pipe or whatever it is will drain any remnants of storm flows that don't make it over the top otherwise there'd always be a stagnant pond there.
 

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