Report - River Westbourne (Ranelagh Sewer/Storm Relief), London 2012 - 2015.

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Staff member
Nov 24, 2008

River Westbourne (Ranelagh Sewer/Storm Relief), London


WARNING.. Another excessive self indulgent pic heavy thread, look away now if you don't like DRAINS :p:

I first set foot in the Westie in 2012 on a whistle stop drain tour of London with MJS

The above pic was captured by the massive bulb as I shone the search blaster for the last time, it was a funny night

The plan was to walk upstream, however the flow wasn't ideal so I didn't go too far, instead we headed down to the 'Egg' on that particular evening

After seeing that junction I naturally wanted to explore more of the system, but other things always seemed to get in the way

It wasn't until 2014 I really started to put some effort in having already completed the other 2 of the big 3 'Lost Rivers'

I set out with adders to see what all the fuss was about :popcorn

The Ranelagh itself is quite a busy system, and a quick look at the main drainage map confirms just that

Incorporating the Ranelagh Sewer and Ranelagh Storm Relief, I'll attempt to cover both of them separately

We headed upstream in the Ranelagh as far as Kilburn

The main drainage map shows two branches here heading towards the original source of the River Westbourne

Here, a North Easterly branch of the sewer which runs to the original source at Hampstead Heath


It became a real stooper quite quickly as you can see from the above pic I struggled to grab in the confines of said steamy shit pipe

Further down, the sewer widens as construction changes from horseshoe to an extended brick arch


Ahead, it was quite noisy, the source of all the racket a small tumbling bay, which I certainly had no plans to tackle :eek:



Thankfully a side entry led to a staircase, which in turn leads up to a manhole chamber which was a curiousity in itself..

(Here is the chamber looking back towards the North Eastern branch of the Ranelagh)


From the passageway, 2 further side rooms both with laddered shafts down

Naturally we went for a look, keen to follow the Ranelagh downstream as no way we were negotiating that tumbling bay!

One set of ladders drops into what appears to be an overflow setup

Heading beyond some boarded weir section and through some nasty porridge is a junction where we once again meet the Ranelagh


As you can see we are now below the tumbling bay as seen earlier

The left hand pipe appears to have little or no flow, a quick look at the main drainage map shows a short section that doesn't go too far..

The far right, is the overflow we just walked down, you can just about make out the oak dam boards in the distance

Doing a 180 and behind us is the Ranelagh as it surges downstream


I did attempt to walk down, but having managed 2ft and nearly swept off my feet, I gave that up as a bad idea also!

Curious to see what the overflow offered we went for a closer look at that before deciding how best to tackle the Ranelagh downstream

From the main chamber above, another set of ladders leads to a dropshaft which in turn carries spill flows from the Ranelagh to the NWSR below


From the inspection chamber which incorporates the dropshaft, another long ladder allows access to the NWSR below

This is where the Ranelagh interacts with what is essentially the source of the North West Storm Relief


Heading downstream can be found another branch of the Ranelagh (left), heading North West towards Brondesbury and then onto West Hampstead


The pics turned out rubbish as my camera had taken a knock and was also steamed up to f**k :banghead


I assume the additions of concrete strengthening are more to do with the Bakerloo line that runs close by here


Back in the mainline, it proved impossible to walk safely downstream from here

I nipped back to the next point where the Ranelagh interacts with the NWSR, as adders hadn't seen this before

Known as 'Shelf-life' junction; another point in which the Ranelagh overflows into NWSR via a large single sided weir/CSO chamber when the system is at capacity


Here the Ranelagh exits the CSO and heads further downstream towards Maida Vale

Again, the flow proved too treacherous so we headed out and picked up the sewer a short distance down..




Staff member
Nov 24, 2008

Continuing where we left off, we headed back under at Maida Vale

Here the Ranelagh is intercepted by the Middle Level Sewer No.2 which was constructed 1906 - 1911

I also noticed the recent knocks to the lens were greatly noticeable, oh well you'll have to make do as cba going back to any of it!


Looking back upstream


As usual, after an interception the line remains dry a short distance


It isn't long before side pipes dump their load and the flow picks up once again


The next 400m stretch provides some interesting construction and shape changes

The RBP soon changes to Horshoe



And eventually back to RBP


Ahead, construction changes to a 7ft RCP as it heads underneath Westbourne Green and the Paddington branch of the Grand Junction Canal


It wasn't long before the brickwork returned once again, here a smaller side pipe joins we called it a night at this point and bailed


On our next outing, we were joined by Intrepid from the cave clan, who was over visiting friends and family, I'm not sure what he made of LON fresh :D

We picked up the Ranelagh beyond Little Venice as it heads underneath Ranelagh Bridge through a mist filled slippery RBP


Thankfully, the construction soon changes to an extended brick arch, and was much easier going underfoot!


Along the way further side pipes join..


As well can be seen some disused sections of sewer here and there


The sewer widens and the flow becomes a bit more intense as more smaller sewers join the downstream line


Underneath Bayswater the height of the Ranelagh sewer needed to be lowered to accommodate the route of the Metropolitan Railway

A slide was used, instead of the typical tumbling bay's associated with London drainage which is prevolent in most systems here

It's all a bit bodgit & scarper really


Looking back up


Further down a couple of busy side pipes join


The flow beyond here makes the walk down tricky, it's silted and fast flowing too!

The stretch between Bayswater and Hyde park certainly has seen some major alterations over the years

A side exit we once used to enter the system leads to one such alteration


A double decker section of tunnel exists for a short stretch here, up top is a section of the now dis-used 1834 Ranelagh Sewer Diversion


The odd ventilation shaft has since been added to serve the sewer below


A small aperture towards the end of the bricked up tunnel allows one to sample the delightful aromas from a lesser sewer below


Continuing downstream the flow is tough going, balls deep and silted makes it difficult

Here, a single sided weir into an overflow which joins the Ranelagh Storm Relief further down (see later on)


Round the corner, we hit a junction where the Ranelagh mainline joins up with the Mid Level Interceptor No.1 constructed 1861 - 1864

(just about visible on the right)


At this point in the proceedings I really did question where the hell we were going with this silly hobby!

A CSO chamber has since been added to alleviate the system

The Ranelagh now becoming the ML1 and it's original course beyond the overflow weir now the Ranelagh Storm Relief constructed 1860 - 1862



Looking down into the overflow chamber from above


After climbing back down, we followed the Ranelagh Storm Relief downstream

Here the overflow chamber from below..


One of the 3 weirs which during capacity serve the Ranelagh Storm Relief


And here it is a bit further downstream

The spur on the left is an overflow from the curved overflow weir before the Ranelagh hits the Mid Level No.1 as seen further above


Technically the stretch through Hyde Park from Lancaster Gate to Knightsbridge is officially the Ranelagh Storm Relief..

But just take a look at some poo that joins a lot further up the offical route

I'd say the continuation of the Ranelagh Sewer within it's original course re-starts a lot sooner these days, but we'll refer to it as the storm relief all the same


As you can see it's pretty clean for a storm relief :rolleyes:


Further down and 10 URBEX points if you can spot addersUE doing ANDRAIN


Even the trees prefer it down here


In all honesty it's the most uneventful 1600 metres I've ever encountered in a drain, but it's a means to an end and it needed looking at


Staff member
Nov 24, 2008

Now then, remember the pic from the start of the thread, this is where things start to get interesting again...


> Far left - Serpentine Overflow > Middle - Ranelagh Storm Relief > Right - Tyburn Brook/Disused 1834 Diversion

At this point the storm relief becomes the Ranelagh sewer again

> The spur on the left serves an overflow from the Serpentine

One of the more well known stretches of the Westbourne through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park

Eventually the Westbourne through the park was dammed to create an ornamental lake

Originally fed by the River Westbourne and Tyburn Brook in the 1730s, the lake's water was then pumped from the Thames in the 1830s

A Century later the waters became more sewage than sparkling and the upstream link was diverted

The water is now pumped from three boreholes within Hyde Park, the most recent being installed in May 2012 as part of the 2011–2012 restoration of the Lake



Overflow chamber


Outlet/connection with the Ranelagh CSO


> The spur on the right leads to the Tyburn Brook and the disused 1834 Ranelagh Sewer Diversion


Eventually we arrive at a junction upstream where the Tyburn Brook joins the now disused section of the 1834 Ranelagh Sewer Diversion


Tyburn Brook

The line is truncated and and a further overflow weir from the Mid Level Sewer No.1 has since been added



Disused 1834 Ranelagh Sewer Diversion


Heading back downstream, the next significant piece is a junction where the Ranelagh & K.S.P relief (aka Eggs End) joins below


We'll come back to that..

For now we'll continue downstream in the Ranelagh


^ The pic is taken below Knightsbridge Road, you can just about make out the faded sign..

Not somewhere you can grab a bag of Kronies at 2am either I hasten to add

We trundled on down for some distance, along the way more side pipes dumping their collective loads

In the distance we could here the roar

It wasn't long before the Ranelagh was once again intercepted this time by the Northern Low Level No.2 sewer - Constructed 1904 - 1912


Misty as hell here as to be expected so we didn't hang about

The Ranelagh sewer now takes a line below Lowdnes Square to the West of Belgravia

Once a swampy wastelend known as the Five Fields, the area is now home to the internationally loaded unlike myself and adders



There are no late night off licences either, the local corner shop here being Harvey Nicks!

Heading down towards Eaton Terrace an overflow on the right drops into the Western Deep Sewer which was constructed in the early 90's


The multi level shaft leads to a deep pit at the bottom

I assume it has the ability to serve as a detention tank if required, pretty sure something this size has it's uses


Further down, a change in construction, just watch how you point your torch when light painting these places, as sometimes you end up with a drain penis :D


As we approached Sloane Square we encountered another one of those remotely operated hydraulic flaps

They scare the shit out of me, especially knowing there is no usable lid beyond here and the next obstacle

I decided it was adders turn to man up on this one as I braved the Tyburn one, he dithered about that much I just carried on regardless


These aren't the sort of flaps you'd want a close encounter with I can assure you!

Beyond the flap, a short section of 'stainless steel' pipe


Now, If you ever have the mis-fortune to be stuck on the district line platform at Sloane Square tube station look up..

You will notice a large iron conduit overhead that intersects the station at a 48 degree angle


It now carries the Ranelagh sewer since construction of said district line station circa 1868


It's slippery as hell and and I'm surprised we both made it through without incident

From Sloane Square, the line now follows Holbein Place


A short distance down and we are thwarted by a large steel flap, just like the one in the Tyburn there was no easylift out either so we retreated


What is it with LON and flaps!

Keen to press on, we found ourselves back on the streets, this time in Chelsea

I eventually located a suitable lid that dropped us just beyond the flap, allowing us to carry on downstream of the Ranelagh from the otherside


The line now takes a turn as it crosses beneath Pimlico Road and heads below the once Chelsea Barracks




A point where the brickwork changes, somewhere below Chelsea Bridge Road


Continuing a short distance, the Ranelagh takes a dog leg and heads underneath Ranelagh Gardens

A young Mozart once played here in his youf, so the story goes :thumb

(pic looking back)


Some engineering brick Pr0n


And here, beyond the boards the Ranelagh Storm Relief (Eggs End) runs parallel behind at this point down to the Thames

Roland rat was running in all directions, desperately attempting to avoid the mighty cree


Further down the source of all the racket, the Northern Low Level No.1 sewer - Constructed 1864 - 1870





Staff member
Nov 24, 2008

And finally, the Ranelagh & K.S.P Storm Relief (aka Eggs End)

Apologies if you have lost the will to live by this point, but earlier on in the thread I made reference to the junction of the Ranelagh & K.S.P relief

Here it is again to jog your memory :p:


Dropping down the ladder is

the EGG


It's here both the Westie (Ranelagh) and the Tyburn (King Scholars Pond) sewer's interact by way of an overflow between the two

The main overflow chamber is right outside the French Embassy


Siologen organised a quick get-together over the 2014/15 festive period, here is the group pic he took


^ The 7ft RBP on the right forms part of the relief from the K.S.P as seen below


From the Egg chamber,
a continuation of a large diameter egg shaped brick overflow heads towards the Thames between Knightsbridge and the Chelsea Embankment


The storm relief now continues a line below Sloane Street


As we approach Cadogan Place Gardens, the Egg construction now changes to a brick arch



Below Sloane Square is another of those scary remote controlled hydraulic flaps, you've always wanted to pass beneath :rolleyes:

As the manholes either side chime from the traffic overhead, a loose chain rattles..

After jumping from my skin and realising the flap wasn't about to close shut on me I managed to grab a pic


Just like the Ranelagh sewer, it wasn't long before we hit another large steel flap



As usual there is no easy way past and no handy easylift so we had to back track, head out and drop back in beyond the flappage around Sloane Square..


Heading downstream


*Note the tidal fudge (see below)


Not forgetting this last stretch is tidal, we dropped into the downstream section late one afternoon


Sadly the tide was rolling in and the overflow was filling fast

We headed a good way down before a knee height concoction of Thames water and slippery tidal fudge thwarted progress

I had the best idea; GTFO.. with that, we turned around and headed out for the safety of the nearest off licence :thumb


Keen to get the job done, we returned a few day's later, this time at a lower tide

Now this isn't a game of spot the difference, but between this and the above pic there's a world of differences


The large diameter RBP was quite chilled this time, just slippery as f00k!

A short distance down and the brickwork quickly turns to re-inforced concrete as it heads below Chelsea Bridge Road


The concrete shows sign of distress along it's route


Further down, an interaction with the Ranelagh Sewer behind some oak dam boards (right)


Just like the Ranelagh Sewer, the Storm Relief now takes a dog leg as it heads under Ranelagh Gardens


Here, the final outfall chamber underneath Chelsea Embankment


Behind the flaps is Father Thames, best not hang about here!


Outta Here


Thanks for looking and apologies for the size of the the thread :D

R.I.P Samyang


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Jul 10, 2014
Brilliant mate, love reading and seeing these drain reports. Its clear a lot of effort went into it. Cheers for sharing it :)


Mr Muscle
Regular User
Feb 27, 2012
Another amazing report on a pretty epic drain once you move away from the tourist spots in it :thumb

This is draining with a capital DRAINING :thumb

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