Report - - River Effra (Sewer) - A Decade Of Southern Division Associated Drainage, London 2010 - 2019. | UK Draining Forum | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - River Effra (Sewer) - A Decade Of Southern Division Associated Drainage, London 2010 - 2019.


Staff member
River Effra (Sewer) - A Decade Of Southern Division Associated Drainage, London 2010 -2019.

Since Victorian times this ancient river has been lost from sight, flowing through subterranean passages and drains deep beneath the city streets

The etymology of the name "Effra" has been much disputed. There is no evidence that it was applied to the stream before the late 18th century, and early 19th century gazetteers gave it no name

A map of 1744 refers to it as the "Shore", and it was also referred to as "Brixton Creek" and "the Wash". "Effra" may be inherited from Proto-Germanic ēþrō via Old English ǣðre, which means "runlet of water, fountain, spring, stream"

Well, there's unquestionably more to everybody's favourite tourist drain 'RUBIX' which is essentially a storm relief which serves the Effra and is typically a very small piece in a fairly widespread jigsaw puzzle

The River Effra is one of London's great lost waterways. Rising near Crystal Palace, its course flows through Norwood, Dulwich, Herne Hill, Brixton and Kennington, before finally emptying into the Thames beside Vauxhall Bridge

Forever on a back burner this one, it was the start of the decade when I first bothered with the Effra, having dipped my toe in at an overflow near West Norwood I had every intention of returning back the following week

It was early 2013 before I managed to return to this lot having tried to cram as much other stuff into them short visits as I could back then

A good chunk of Rubix and other associated downstream pics are from that era and have sat gathering dust since

There's certainly a lot going on with the Effra and it's associated branches, interceptors & relief's that it's took a good chunk of time completing the bigger picture

I was averaging a trip into this lot every two years and at this rate was never going to accomplish anything so this past year or so I decided to put that straight!

Where's the Effra?

It became covered over piecemeal in the 1820's and was fully culverted by 1865 into brick sewers

Joesph Bazalgette's main drainage scheme incorporated 3 new intercepting sewers running West to East which "interrupted" the Lost River Effra along it's course

Crucially these intercepting sewers now drained away most of what remained of the old River

In 1859 the Effra Branch Sewer was completed further to the 3 interceptors which conveys South London's sewage into the Southern Outfall Sewer towards Crossness

By 1911 the Southern High Level No.2 had been completed to further alleviate the main drainage network South of the Thames

By this point depending on peoples perspective, the River Effra was either improved or 'lost' having existed for centuries without a distinct name and only acquiring one prior to it vanishing from sight

So, where does it start and where does it end ? hopefully what follows will best explain...

The Effra main line re-starts in Dulwich Village, ahead of a diversion known as the '1859 Effra Branch Sewer' which in turn is intercepted by the later addition of the Southern High Level Sewer No. 2

We dropped into a 4ft egg, it was reasonably clean, with a faint whiff of fresh, yet just a trickle from a couple of small diameter side pipes and a few stale turds parked up :turd

After a short stoop, we ended up in a chamber with some weir boards and a small sluice blocking the way on

I was hoping this was the upstream re-start of the Effra after the diversion with the amount of time staring at maps.. Sure enough it was as I peered over

Still nursing a broken foot, I sent Ginge over with my camera for a closer look

Over the boards, is the Effra Branch Sewer, basically an interceptor that runs S.E via a sizeable 10ft brick barrel towards Greenwich

Looking upstream where it runs from Crystal Palace/Upper Norwood, more on that lot later..

Looking downstream, as it runs towards New Cross

Some badass flow!

Eventually it's intercepted by the Southern High Level Sewer No.2 with additional spill flows forwarded over to Deptford via the continuation of the existing Effra Branch Sewer and subsequently merging with the High Level No.1 by Greenwich pumping station, (formerly Dulwich) and transferred into the Southern Outfall Sewer No.2 towards Crossness
With me so far ? :brew

Next up we head downstream via the 'Half Moon Branch' of the Effra, around ¼ mile later we hit an overflow which marks the start of the Effra Storm Relief below, constructed in 1985

It's around 5ft at this point; ahead oak boards restrict the downstream line

There's also a couple of left over nuggets to make it look a little more authentic

From the other side of the boards, the continuation of the Half Moon Branch via a 5ft brick egg, another local branch can be seen joining from Dulwich Village

Excuse the crappy phone pic looking back upstream

As we approached the South side of Herne Hill after a tedious stroll we came across this 3 way split

Middle = Effra Sewer, Right = Local Sewer, Left = A branch of the Effra that runs a short distance up Herne Hill

A short distance down and another junction, this time the Norwood Road Branch of the Effra joins

In 2013, and despite the relief sewers, this entire lot couldn't cope and the whole area flooded!

The flow picks up a fair bit and the sewer shapes up to a 6ft barrel as we head downstream a good ½ mile before anything more notable

Speaking of which, further downstream is another small CSO which again forwards spill flows to the nearby Effra Storm Relief Sewer

As the sewer runs below Brixton Water Lane it turns 90° towards Effra Road

On the left, the remains of a dis-used sewer, the connection has long been truncated

Round the corner is a hell of a racket, considering the incoming sewer is just over 4ft

Looking downstream, you can just about see the Streatham Hill sewer (Water Lane Branch) joining the flow ahead of a CSO beyond the weir boards

This is the first notable feature of the South West Storm Relief (Rubix), first constructed in 1923

Careful side stepping this one, it does it's best to claim yer legs!

Here a f0sheye special looking upstream from back in the day, a 3ft branch sewer also joins from Tulse Hill

We'll come back to Rubix later in the report, for now we'll carry on in the Effra main line as it continues downstream through a 6ft barrel towards Brixton

This awkward section of 6ft brick pipe was constructed 1862 - 1863 and is fairly featureless a good distance as it heads below Effra Road

Eventually a soft curve runs it below Brixton Road

Here construction changes to a much larger and impressive 2.5m (approx) brick arch, the brickwork is notably much older; circa. 1847 according to research

It's a good 1km slog negotiating the fast flowing line of the Effra Sewer as it continues to run below Brixton Road, East of Stockwell to a point of significant change

Beyond the brick arch in the following pic, the change in construction marks the end of the Effra

Excuse another crappy phone pic looking back upstream

This entire section below Brixton Road was reconstructed in 1973 when the Brixton Storm Relief was implemented, more on that towards the end of the thread...

The Effra sewer was already intercepted via the 1859 Southern High Level Sewer No.1 by this point, just re-jigged to pass through the overflow chamber via cast iron carriers

There's a fair bit going on here, so allow me a few pics to explain..

Firstly, on the R.H.S you can see the flow continues to head an Easterly direction, infact this marks the end of the Effra as we know it

*It merges with the Southern High Level No.1 and in turn eventually dumps it's load into the Southern Outfall Sewer No.2 over by Greenwich pumping station heading to Crossness STW

Good luck walking down that lot!

*Note the aforementioned Southern High Level Sewer No.1 cuts through a cast iron conduit before emerging the other side where the Effra converges as seen in the above pic ^

Here in the below pic taken by Ginge from within the continuation of the High Level No.1 looking back towards my good self whilst stood in the final stretch of the Effra sewer

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Staff member
What a relief ?

In 1984, 2007 & 2013 the surrounding areas of Dulwich and Herne Hill were hard hit by flooding

Despite the 2 relief sewers S.W Relief Sewer (1923/1934) and the more recent Effra Storm Relief Sewer (1985) being in place to serve the Effra and the local sewer network; more on that lot further below...

When flooding occurs in any district, it is unfortunately always the same low or badly situated area and buildings that are first affected

Even when works of great magnitude are carried out, at times they just prove insufficient as was the case with this lot

Due to its age, records relating to the original design criteria are not available

However it can be assumed that it is likely to have been designed to cope with storms of magnitude of between 1 in 10 years and 1 in 20 years at best

The Effra sewer is typically 5 feet six inches in diameter, flow levels in the sewer during dry weather are typically 10 inches, which is a small percentage of it's total capacity​


Staff member
First up the
South West Storm Relief, a.k.a 'RUBIX'
The next phase of the development of the sewerage system was therefore the construction of storm sewers to relieve the local sewers during such periods, and to carry the excess flows direct to the Thames

One such relief sewer, the South West Storm Relief, was constructed in 1923 to assist the drainage of Clapham, Streatham, Stockwell & Brixton

And on the upper extremities constructed in 1934 it also served West Dulwich & West Norwood

In 1976 additional capacity was added with an extra branch to alleviate those locally in Tulse Hill

And again, in 1987 the sewer was extended further South to relieve the 1861 West Norwood Branch of the Effra, the 1859 West Dulwich Sewer and also to take the strain upstream of the 1861 Effra Branch Extension

Although what remains of the Effra over at Gipsy Hill serving the Upper Norwood Sewer/Hamilton Road sewer has now long since been intercepted

The original upstream line starts over at West Norwood near to the cemetery with an overflow from the West Norwood branch of the Effra

As I was taking this crappy phone pic looking up the weir, the heavens decided to open and water began lapping over and spilling through the lid in the road

Within a matter of minutes it was now a full on storm relief

Another torch down, and the final bit of my trusty drain0r kit (other than my 4 gas) now claimed to this entire Southern network of drainage :banghead

I managed to grab a quick video clip of it going berserk before I had to literally run up the ladder and out

This is another example of why you shouldn't go into these systems when there's a hint of rain, this jaunt was planned and I was a few feet the right side of the ladder

From here, it's a 4.5ft RBP which runs just over 1km towards Tulse Hill and just West of Dulwich

Eventually this tumbling bay conveys spill flows to a point at a junction approx 3m below

..Below is this 3 way junction within a sizable brick chamber

On the R.H.S can be seen the tumbling bay from which we emerged

The middle (newer looking) concrete pipe is the aforementioned 1km extension which was completed in 1987 between Rosendale Road and Gipsy Hill at a cost of £1.5m

Initially it's 5ft, a short distance up is a valve

Behind which it's essentially a tank sewer increasing to 8ft heading upstream serving West Norwood and eventually terminating at Gipsy Hill

The L.H.S portal from the '3 way junction' is the 1934 Dulwich Branch of the Southwest Storm Relief, **see further below for more on this..

Heading downstream, it's a relentless 1km slog through a 6.5ft brick barrel towards Tulse Hill before any other interaction

In 1976 work was undertaken to extend the relief sewer to alleviate properties surrounding Norwood Road/Tulse Hill as the area was still very much prone to flooding

In the below pic you can see the additional branch on the R.H.S merging with the existing relief

(Pic looking upstream)

Naturally I nipped up for a butchers, however a 4.5ft concrete pipe isn't my idea of fun, so around 20m in I stretched my back at a manhole chamber and opted to GTFO

I rejoined Ginge back in the existing storm relief

(Pic looking downstream)

From here, it's another fair old mooch via the age old slippery brickwork

Eventually we arrived back at this overflow chamber where we left off near the start of the thread

Located below Effra Road, it serves the Effra sewer and the incoming 'Water Lane Branch' of the Streatham Hill sewer and a local branch sewer that exits Tulse Hill from West Norwood

Negotiate the feisty Streatham Hill sewer, shimmy along the Victorian oak sponge cake boards and slide down the wonky rag laden ladder and you end up in this sizable overflow

From the overflow chamber, the relief heads N.W towards Clapham via the original 1923 brick pipe

Around ¼ mile down via the slippery 7ft RBP, a relief for the Streatham Hill sewer via a tumbling bay

Beyond the washing line, a 4ft relief that reaches up Brixton Hill

Back says no :rolleyes:

Sudbourne Road Flood Relief Scheme - 2011
Now this next feature always had me intrigued, a rough as arse RCP puncturing this age old arterial relief system :popcorn

A 1m, (3ft 2") rough RCP "breaks through"; quite a challenge according to the structural report

If you didn't know any better you'd just assume they'd slammed that nasty looking piece of concrete right through the side of the existing 1923 brick relief without a second thought :rolleyes:

It's actually the final piece of the Sudbourne Road Flood Relief Scheme jigsaw completed in 2011


A solution was required to remove five properties on Sudbourne Road, Brixton from the Thames Water Sewer Flooding History Database (SFHD) suffering from foul water flooding

The flooding mechanism was ‘basement flooding’ caused by high surcharge levels, generated by general lack of capacity in the surrounding network

The preferred option was the installation of a 270m, 1,000mm concrete sewer using pipe jacking at a depth of about 8-9m below ground level

And a 5m connection sewer from a 3.6m shaft to the South Western Relief Sewer using a stitch drilling technique to connect the outfall pipe into the existing storm relief 12m below ground level

The biggest challenge of breaking into the existing sewer was that it was a 1923 built live storm relief sewer (normally empty), which needed to continue to operate

What appears a simple job, clearly isn't, just a shame the level of detail wasn't applied to the final finishing, I can almost see J Bizzle spinning in his grave!

Back to the Southwest Storm Relief, and it's a good ½ mile slog through the brick overflow before anything else presents itself

The next interaction is the Balham sewer, constructed in 1878 with associated CSO added in beards later when they built the relief sewer..

Here, the Balham sewer and A.N Other local sewer pass above the storm relief

Independant CSO's with single sided weirs forward spill flows via the 2 connecting side pipes either side of the relief sewer as seen in the above pic ^

The below pics higlight both CSO's

Outgoing 5ft Balham sewer

A 4ft local sewer that runs the other side

Approx 200m downstream the Southern High Level No.1 and the Putney & Clapham Extension cross either side of the relief sewer near to Clapham North underground station

The 2 separate overflows can be seen from below; either side of the rag laden access gantry crossing the relief

From a distance it doesn't look too tasty @siologen once said he'd "rather eat a raw crocodile"... must be bad :rolleyes:

Both sewers, differing in diameter utilise single sided weirs to forward spill flows into the S.W Relief Sewer below..

(pic looking upstream)

From the R.H.S overflow heading downstream the smaller diameter Southern High Level No.1 Interceptor crosses above

The L.H.S overflow is the larger diameter Putney & Clapham Extension, that also crosses above, they both run parallel and converge a short distance D/S

From this point, the relief sewer becomes a good 11ft in height and construction changes to concrete

It runs below the railway lines near to Clapham High Street Station

Proceeding downstream a short distance, as seen above ^ is this side entry into a small overflow chamber

This is infact the outfall of the 'Effra Storm Relief' which connects at right angles behind a large diameter valve

^We'll come back to that lot a bit later on also...

Back to the Southwest Storm Relief (RUBIX), there isn't much to see other than boring concrete for 2km apart from the odd side entry

It's essentially a tank sewer from this point

Approx 300m downstream is this access shaft which drops in through the crown

It was no doubt also used as a construction shaft and there's a side entry a few meters beyond

Thanks once again to Ginge for squeezing me into his fisheye as my wangle was nowhere near cutting it

Around 100m further down can be found the last interaction with anything before the outfall at Nine Elms

Here, a small overflow which drops into the Southern Low Level No.2 Interceptor below

From here, it's a long boring walk, we made silly noises to amuse ourselves with the reverb

Somewhere near Nine Elms it get's a bit tricky, typically one can only get this far at low tide anyway

You can't quite see it in the below pic, however just beyond the vanishing point the invert drops into a sumped section

ISO 64000000 c/o Ginge

It's no longer user friendly from here on in, this being the only pic I ever bothered to take of the cruddy bit heading into the sump

I've trudged as far as I can now on numerous occasions since starting this lot and never managed to see the "falls" ahead of the outfall chamber at the Thames

High tide, low tide, rain, shine it's always filled with festering crap, the meter's bite is worse than it's bark here, with high levels of pretty much everything that's lethal

Time to leave! (again) :banghead


Staff member
Next up the
Constructed in 1985, around 3km of tunneling was laid at depths from 35ft to 60ft below the surface from Clapham to Half Moon Lane at an overall cost of £3m

The Effra Storm Relief Sewer was designed to alleviate the drainage of West Dulwich & Herne Hill, to eliminate 'flash flooding' caused by the inability of the Effra sewer to absorb excess surface water following heavy rainfall

The following 60 years saw an escalation in the use of domestic and commercial water which resulted in an increase in the 'normal' flow in sewers, and a consequent decrease in the capacity for accommodating storm flows

The most successful system for dealing with these flows has been the development of the 'tank sewer'

Designed to store excess water generated during peak storms, and to discharge the stored water when the flow in the local sewers has abated

The Effra Storm Relief Sewer is such a tank sewer, which connects and discharges into the South West Storm Relief Sewer

Constructed in 2 sections, the first being Clapham North to Brixton Water Lane @8ft, the second being Brixton Water Lane to Burbage Road @6ft

It's a fairly featureless concrete affair, with just 3 overflows serving the Effra along it's course

Laddered access beyond the valve chamber drops you into the Effra Storm Relief

Looking back downstream towards the large iron shit flap, beyond which resides the S.W Storm Relief as seen earlier in the thread

Heading upstream, the 8ft segmented "Tank Sewer" runs from Clapham North

- Further up a sewer crosses

Brixton Water Lane CSO

This is the first of 3 overflows alleviating the 1859 Effra sewer, which in recent years has been unable to cope with ever increasing volumes of sewerage, resulting in frequent flooding

Norwood Road CSO

Here, the second overflow which serves the 1863 Norwood Road branch of the Effra

Constructed in 1985, it also extends to another smaller CSO near to Burbage Road (see further below), which also conveys spill flows from the Half Moon Branch of the Effra

Burbage Road CSO

Again, constructed in 1985, this is the final CSO in a series of 3, situated on the upstream end of the Storm Relief serving the 1867 Half Moon Branch of the Effra

Herne Hill has a long history of flooding and is particularly at risk in the vicinity of the Lost River Effra..

Apologies for the repetition, as I've already included a pic of this earlier in the thread to illustrate the start of the second section of the Effra Storm Relief

Beyond the weir

From here it's all downhill :rolleyes:



Staff member
Back to the Effra

Some of what has been covered so far in this thread, has been showcased over the years by a handful of dedicated drain0rs, yet amazingly nobody ever went the extra mile so to speak to see the upstream stuff

Another drain don once reported he attempted to look upstream and "couldn't see anything that looked like the start of the Effra sewer, and it wasn't possible to get in due to it being too small"

It begged the question was it going to be worth the effort ? Nothing to lose I guess and turned out pretty worth while in the end, despite nearly killing me!

What remains of the Effra has since been diverted down what is essentially an interceptor

Constructed circa. 1859 Sir Joseph Bazalgette incorporated flows from the River Effra into the Southern division of the system

"The Effra Branch Sewer", is several miles in length and costing some £19,400 to construct, receiving much of the Effra's surface water and ran from the Upper Norwood/Crystal Palace area into the Southern High Level Sewer No.2 at Nunhead

Forward flows also head towards Greenwich PS (but not pumped) via a continuation of the Effra Branch Sewer before merging with the Southern High Level No.1 and heading into the Southern Outfall Sewer No.2 terminating at Crossness

Here a board of works drawing of the run up to this next lot

After a well deserved mixed grill accompanied by a couple of 1664's North of the river we set out to find a way into the Upper Norwood sewer & Hamilton Road sewer which heads the start of this Effra shizzle

30 mins of walking the streets and failing to find a suitable way in only helped burn off what I can only describe as my last supper, the events that later unfolded were something I never want to re-live, EVER!

We dropped in on the West Norwood branch of Effra, constructed in 1861, this sedate 4.6ft brick egg which was initially easy going, got quite a bit deeper, slippery and silted up further downstream

After what seemed like an age trudging though knee deep fresh, we arrived at an overflow chamber which alleviates this particular Effra Branch via the later 1987 addition of the South West Storm Relief below

It's a good 5m drop down to the relief..

Pic c/o Ginge

Around 200m downstream, the fast flowing Effra Branch Sewer Extension, (also constructed in 1861) heads in at a junction below West Dulwich

It was far too slippery and fast flowing to bother going any further, besides I'd already worked out where the next interaction was, so we headed out to avoid being swept away by the interceptor

The intended target was a small branch of the Effra which serves West Dulwich, I'd done my homework and off we went, as I dropped in something seemed out of place, you could hear a pin drop and the line was dry as a bone

Instead of dropping into the sewer we'd actually ended up in the Dulwich branch of the South Western Storm Relief which serves this lot

Still a goal and although not in the intended order, we managed to see both anyway

A brick shaft drops into barely a 5ft RCP and after a short walk upstream it transitions to a 6ft RBP for around 150m

**(The below pic leads from the L.H.S of the '3 way junction' within the South West Storm Relief as previously depicted in the thread)

The tell tale sounds increased in volume as we neared the source

Beyond a small tumbling bay, a reasonable sized overflow chamber presented itself alongside the 1861 Effra Branch Sewer Extension

Behind the camera and looking back up from the above pic is a sizable overflow chamber

The Effra Branch Sewer Extension runs diagonally through, separated by a single sided wooden weir which has since been modified with the addition of the extended height concrete wall

I climbed on top of the weir for some pics whilst attempting to talk Ginge out of walking down the interceptor the other side..

Having dipped his toe in and nearly claiming his leg he was adamant the hand rail in place would be sufficient enough for a few quick pics so I insisted he hand me the van keys just in case, oh the irony!

As he disappeared out of shot I took advantage of the brief back lighting

Unfortunately my pics from that night have long gone, along with my camera and everything else, the ones I've included are from a reluctant re-visit

To say I'm a lucky man is an understatement all things considered

Anyway.. Further downstream is where the West Dulwich branch of the Effra merges with the 1859 Effra Branch Sewer which in turn runs from the later extension; the transition is fairly obvious in the following pic (all credit to Ginge)

He soon returned and I was quietly relieved, as he setup to take a few pics himself I climbed back down for one final shot of the overflow before we headed out

c/o Ginge

As ever it took a couple of attempts with settings and adjusting the light sources, 3rd time unlucky and shit got real!

Remarkably I'm still here and without the Tall Ginger Man, I doubt I'd be writing this lot up, as JD once said it's a Draingerous Recreation
The risks of drain exploration are many and are often entirely outside of an individuals control.

Many people who explore drains do so with the assistance of specialised safety equipment, from Gas Monitors and Emergency Breathing Apparatus to Intrinsically safe lighting.

Sticking on a pair of Wellington boots, grabbing a torch and heading into a drain for the first time is a recipe for disaster.

The decision to explore drains lies firmly with each individual and with that decision comes the responsibility for yourself and your actions, you have taken the decision and you are responsible!

Say no more, suffice to say it can become an expensive hobby when it all goes South (West), excuse the pun.
Still a couple of grands worth of gear is still cheaper than a funeral eh :brew


Staff member
As I was spared a swim to Crossness that night, we decided to play it safe and catch the Effra Branch Sewer much further downstream

At the beginning of the thread I touched on the 1859 Effra Branch Sewer over at Dulwich Village

From here its approx 2.6km of rapid flowing nuggets before an interaction with the Southern High Level Interceptor, the only other connection being that of the Peckham Rye branch of the Bell Green sewer a short distance further downstream

Over at Nunhead, the regular flow of the Efrra Branch Sewer has since been intercepted by the Southern High Level Sewer No.2 eventually terminating at Crossness STW

Some of the normal flow continues down the existing 1859 Branch Sewer towards Greenwich (and also when at capacity spill flows are further forwarded here)

(Left = 1859 - Effra Branch Sewer - Right = 1911 - Southern High Level Sewer No.2)

c/o Ginge

We next caught up with the Effra Branch Sewer over near Deptford to avoid a very long and sketchy walk downstream

It's a bit of an oddity this lot as the sewer is divided before its final journey towards Greenwich PS...

It's now an impressive 2.5m Horseshoe ahead of an overflow chamber

Beyond the overflow from the above pic^ ***some of the flow drops into a diversion pipe below

Here a crappy phone pic looking from below

It passes beneath 2 cast iron conduits which carry the Ravensbourne & Lea Green sewers above

Excuse another phone tastic

From here ***some of the flow is split underneath the Ravensbourne River which runs below Deptford Bridge via smaller diameter pipes, eventually rejoining the existing branch sewer beyond the pumping station

Back in the Effra Branch Sewer, the 2.5m Horseshoe heads downstream towards Deptford Creek, running parallel with the Southern High Level Sewer No.1

The 2 openings on the right are overflows from the Ravensbourne & Lea Green sewers incorporated beyond both cast iron conduits from the above pic ^

A short distance up each of these side pipes are independent heavy iron gates operable during storm conditions which forward flow beyond 2 separate leap weirs from the 2 aforementioned sewers

This sizable horseshoe now heads a line downstream towards Deptford Creek



Staff member
Both the Effra Branch Sewer and the High Level No.1 continue to run parallel until approx 150m further downstream where they pass through screens and then beneath..

Deptford Storm Relief (a.k.a Challenger)

When at capacity the 2 trunk sewers are served by "Challenger"

2 sizable valves are operable and spill flows are discharged into the Thames near to Deptford Creek

Currently 1,470,000m³ of untreated sewage and 371 tonnes of derived litter is discharged into the Thames annually from this CSO alone which is currently being addressed by Tideway

This particular feature is also tidal to which a limited window of opportunity is available for viewing safely

Beyond the sewers these 2 giant iron flaps regulate the CSO

A cloud of arse mist lingered and refused to budge making for some awkward lighting :banghead

The first 2 pics show the overflow mechanism in the background serving the Effra Branch/High Level No.1 Sewers, I do have phone pics sewer side but they're worse than rubbish!

The single sided weir which extends a good 30m (as seen in the foreground) also allows spill flows to pass through to Deptford Creek

At High Tide, the Creek also back-fills a sizable chamber beyond the weir and through into the overflow chamber

The struggle was real on a number of visits over the years here, these are the best of a bad bunch with some additional turd polishing

Heading downstream, the combined flow of the aforementioned trunk sewers run through cast iron pipes below the storm relief and also the Creek towards Greenwich pumping station

Which in turn merge with the Southern Low Level No.1 & No.2 Sewers which are lifted within the pumping station to form


Essentially a combined flow of everybody's arse as it heads a final journey terminating at the Southern Outfall Works, Crossness

Here a pic of one of the penstocks on the downstream line I took years ago whilst out poking about with Skeleton Key

The treatment works just beyond this giant penstock



Staff member
What remains of the existing Effra Branch Sewer which had since been intercepted by the Southern High Level No.2 over at Nunhead and the Southern Outfall Sewer No.2 also head towards Crossness STW

There was one last real feature within the Southern division drainage where both these sewers run very close together which I was interested in seeing close up and personal

Charlton Storm Relief (a.k.a This Is It)

Much further downstream "This Is It"

"IT" being the final overflow to the Thames, which serves the above mentioned sewers before their final journey down to the treatment works at Crossness

A huge stepped/sloped overflow chamber with a hooj 3.5m overflow splitting into 2 tunnels running to the Thames is a sight to behold!

"One lense fogging son of a bitch"

Heading up the stepped bit of the overflow you can hear the roar of the incoming Eltham Sewer dropping into the Southern High Level No.2, this again is an impressive sight

Also the High Level No.2 runs West to East through the top of the overflow chamber



Staff member
Finally the
Brixton Storm Relief a.k.a 'BREACH'

Whatever remains of the Effra and indeed any discharge that isn't dealt with by the South Western Storm Relief when the system is at capacity, is carried along Brixton Road and discharged into the Thames at Vauxhall Bridge via the Brixton Storm Relief

A good chunk of the original brickwork below Brixton Road was reconstructed between 1973 - 1975 to prevent further flooding within the catchment area

Beyond the weir boards, the sizable brick arches and the cast iron carriers are equal pits of doom, this was once the original line of the Effra down to the Thames and is now the start of the Brixton Storm Relief

It's called "Breach" for a reason, and yes we did :rolleyes:

c/o Ginge

The 1973 reconstruction work sadly utilised a metric fuck tonne of concrete beyond the interceptor/overflow chamber ^ :banghead

Drawing c/o JD

The 2 older sections merge beyond the overflow chamber and it becomes a singular 8.5ft segmented concrete pipe heading downstream

A good distance down, the original 1880 brickwork reappears ahead of the Kennington Oval, reputed to run the original course of the Effra down to the Thames

Looking back upstream

Now then, imagine construction changing to a brick Oval, you couldn't write it and it's fairly impressive at over 3m in height!

From here it winds it's way past the Oval towards Vauxhall

Once again construction changes as it dumps it's final load at Vauxhall Bridge as it emerges alongside a certain SIS Government office known as MI6

Father Thames the other side at low tide

Here, a pic taken of the outfall structure being demolished as Tideway have since moved in at Albert Embankment to address spill flows from this entire system

Well that's all folks, apologies if you made it this far, there's simply so much to cover

In the past 12 months alone I reckon me and Ginge have racked up enough in TFL fines to fund the entire ventilation project for the Rotherhithe tunnel.. C***S!!

Also shouts to Nick for photochopping almost a decades worth of mis-placed gloves/bags/tripods and size 10's outta stuff and anyone else who had the misfortune to spend time down any of this lot with :thumb

I'm glad to have finally finished this lot off, it's cost me an arm and a leg, and been an absolute clusterfuck from the outset!

Merry Crimbo



Loyal to the Drain
Regular User
A thorough and fact filled report, a pleasure to read as always Ojay. :thumb
It’s a good visual reminder that South London has plenty to offer in the drain department.

You’ve captured some quality brickwork and wonderful junctions.
Good job on capturing the overflow from the sewer at the start of Rubix even if it cost a torch. I enjoyed a refreshing ice lolly down there when I went with Ginge on a hot day in the summer!

That Sudbourne Road Flood Relief Sewer may provide an answer to what that concrete pipe is that crudely protrudes through the wall of the SR. However there is no excuse for such a crappy piece of workmanship. It actually makes me angry that a job that must have cost several hundreds of thousands of pounds results in something that looks like it has been done by a primary school kid. :banghead

Shame to see that the Effra outfall structure has been demolished but that’s the price of progress for the cleaning up of the Thames.

Merry Christmas, I wouldn’t want to be down London’s sewers over the coming few days! :brew

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