River Fleet CSO, London 2012 - 2014
(Sorry it's pic heavy, look away now)
The River Fleet is one of London's big 3 'Lost Rivers'. It was canalised between 1670/4 and in later years culverted
It's headwaters are two streams on Hampstead Heath, each of which was dammed into a series of ponds, the Hampstead Ponds and the Highgate Ponds, in the 18th century
At the southern edge of Hampstead Heath these descend underground as sewers and join in Camden Town
Today, the Fleet is a combined sewer, and any tranquil waters that once were are certainly no longer
Long before it was buried, it was an open sewer and contributed to the great stink and the great plague of London until J Bizzle came along with his interceptors in 1859
Google lost rivers/drains of London and the first indexed hit is almost certainly the Fleet
It's hardly surprising, as it's old and epic as far as London's main drainage goes
More so if you actually invest some time properly exploring anything other than the stretch around Farringdon Road that is :
That said, despite how awkward the Fleet can be it's certainly a rewarding one, especially if you throw the Fleet's storm relief in as well for good measure
I'd like to acknowledge some of the very few masters who have put some legwork into the place over the years; JD, Stoop, Siologen & the Otter
I've tried to include the more significant bits of the system (including the Fleet Storm Relief),
having traversed the majority of the system now over the last few years and more recently with Adders and The_Vicar
To make sense, I'll start it from the upstream, although we spent much of the earlier trips piss balling about on the downstream sections, but hey
Kentish Town is where we got as far as, before it got ridiculous in terms of stooping and getting dunked in London's finest nuggets
We entered the upstream section in Camden via a number of access points
One comedy gold moment as I almost catapulted Mrs Brown along with dog piddles across the road on one occasion
On the last trip we headed North from Camden through Kentish Town, already covering the other bit's and now Siologen had us intrigued with the staircase of doom
The flow was pretty rapid on this stretch, it took all our effort remaining vertical
Along the way, this overflow; Here it connects with the High Level Storm Relief according to the 1934 LCC map
A single sided weir to a spillway & drop shaft, with the overflow pipe further below
Eventually, we could hear "the rumble, the roar of nearly the ultimate sewer staircase of death"
And then it came into sight
Soo'ah staircase of doom!
I needed a shower anyway
Once up, this junction
The middle pipe is filled with stagnant crap, looks like it's still occasionally used though!
The right hand sewer, a fast flowing 4ft egg, I went 10m and turned back as my lungs weren't in agreement with it's steamy content
On the left, the Fleet Mainline continues North towards Hampstead Heath
The sizeable RBP now becomes a slightly smaller, slippery egg for a good distance..
A number of connections along the way, some of which were truncated, others belching some dubious vapours
We continued further upstream until we hit a wall, that's right a fucking wall!
Where did the Fleet just go ?
Of course we did traverse some ridiculous diameter pipes in order to chase it further but eventually gave up with the shrinking shit fest