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Report - - Supersoaker London 2018 to 2020 | UK Draining Forum | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Supersoaker London 2018 to 2020


tallginge

more tall than ginger tho.....
Regular User
Regent Street Sewer
(aka Supersoaker)


I’ve said it before but Supersoaker has given me some of my best draining memories to date. Hardly any of it had appeared online before, so it actually felt like an explore and unlike a lot of drainz under London this one was difficult and not just miles long. Difficult to get in ‘safely’ and difficult to stay dry anyway! If yer know where yer going, though, and yer gotta hood it’s well worth the effort and the whole lot’s doable in a long night if yer keen enough.

It’s got pretty much everything going for it, split into three sections separated first by the Mid Level Interceptor and then a tube line, which both kinda get in the way. It’s deep, it’s old, it’s twisty and it’s filthy. There’s old iron work, rusty penstocks, a sump, big brick shafts, ‘water’ falls, arched overflows, and one of the nicest spiral staircases I’ve seen in a sewer.

I visited most of it with @Ojay in 2018 but went back more recently to take advantage of some very low flows in the Low Level No.1 Interceptor, running beneath the Victoria Embankment.

My first visit was solo and I didn’t know where I was going, indeed usable lids are in short supply. Consequently, I ended walking a lot more 4ft pipe than I would’ve liked and as interesting as it was, my back didn’t thank me for it. I’ve got a few pics from that section but I’ll start at the lovely spiral staircase where the two 4ft branches, which follow the east, west and southern boundaries of Regents Park, converge near Park Square.

The first pic is by the nice spiral staircase. It’s difficult to see but the spiral goes upwards anti-clockwise through the arch on the right. The left arch doesn’t lead anywhere.

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The next few pics are of the half mile walk southwards and downstream towards the impassable Mid-Level Interceptor where all the flow from this half of the drain ends up.

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On my first visit I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to get back up this steep approach to the interceptor so I left it that time and when I returned with Ojay we made use of some rope to steady ourselves. It’s not actually that bad but we were grateful for it nonetheless – it’s no good being stuck at the bottom of a long, slippery slide leading to a ‘dead’ end, even if yer mate’s at the top!

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Taken on another visit, this is the Mid Level Interceptor from the north side of it, looking southwards. There’s a big concrete manhole just out of shot to the right, which I forgot to photograph

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Looking north (upstream) towards the Mid Level. The nice access passage on the left leads to the concrete manhole and interceptor. The rusty old metal walkway leads to an old and disused penstock. Yer don’t see many walkways like this under LDN

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Fibres

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The next bit is another rarity. White tiles in a drain. @Killa explained to me that

it was a fashion from 1880- 1930 in high end and public buildings, mostly in private drainage systems, the reason being that chambers thus finished were more easily cleaned, and kept disease free.
I couldn’t get a GPS location on my visit with Ojay and was itching to know where it was above ground, so when I returned I climbed back up the narrow shaft and bingo, I got a fix!

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Next up is a very steep incoming pipe whose stench nearly caused me and Ojay to turn back. The flow comes down at such a rate that it hits the bottom and sprays everywhere. The smell was amongst the worst I’ve come across anywhere in a drain and was bad enough to set the gas detector off – fortunately it was only in that area. Needless to say we didn’t hang around but when I went back to get a gps on the lid above the white tiles the smell wasn’t there. The flow was still pretty strong, though, so I took a short video. I very nearly went bottom over top…..


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Then another spiral staircase on the left. At the top of this is the Piccadilly Branch of the Mid Level Interceptor. Another set of spiral stairs continues around the ventilation shaft to the surface. I took another video as it helps explain this section


“In order to enlarge the area drained by gravitation, a branch 4 feet by 2 feet 8 inches with a fall of 4 feet per mile is carried along Piccadilly, passes through Leicester Square and Lincolns Inn Fields to the main line at Kings Road, Grey’s Inn Road. The length of the main line is about 9 ½ miles and the Piccadilly Branch 2 miles besides which there are minor branches and feeders……

……About 4 miles of the main line and the whole of the Piccadilly Branch were constructed by tunnelling under the streets at depths varying from 20 to 60 feet.”
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Soon after this connection we get to the worst of the Supersoakers, at least in this section.

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Ojay went first this time. Time for another vid


We then got to the twisty, windy, old bit. There’s a lot of history to all of Regent Street Sewer, particularly this central section but there’s not much available online. Ojay has explained it far better than I can in his report, so I won’t repeat it.

When I went with Ojay the flow was blocked from taking its natural course (to the right) by some dam boards and it was going over some lower dam boards and down the main line instead.

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On a different visit to the area with Ojay, we went to see where this flow should've been going to because on the map it showed a royal branch connecting to the Kings Scholars Pond Sewer. Walking up this from the KSPS we first came to a connection with the Low Level No.2, not that much flow was going down it on this occasion because of the dam boards in the main line. Larger flows would go straight ahead to the KSPS

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We then arrived at this disgusting looking junction, where two 4ft pipes converged and we turned back. The one on the left I’m pretty sure connects to the main line of Regent Street Sewer at the junction with the dam boards, shown above (and below from a different angle) Weirdly, when I went back on my own the flow was going where it was supposed to (ie off to the right instead of down the main line) so TW may well have cleaned this stagnant, festering cesspit out now to allow the flow to go where it should. The oak boards are certainly new and they’ve cleaned out other more notorious ‘fat-bergs’ further downstream

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Turning around, we then took a sharp left turn and continued downstream in the main line. This is looking upstream!

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tallginge

more tall than ginger tho.....
Regular User
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Passing a staircase leading up to the Northumberland Street Sewer (see much further below) we come to the main line’s connection with the Low Level No.2. It’s at the bottom of the tumbling bay.

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What this is I don’t know but it’s merely a stones’ throw from Nelson’s Column on Trafalgar Square

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Then a nice tumbling bay

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From the bottom of the tumbling bay it was clear that on this visit we weren’t going to make it any further.

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When I went back to see if things had improved I was delighted to find that they had…..sort of. Thames Water have done a sterling job in this area, recently and they (or their subbies) ought to be proud of themselves. There’s a statistic somewhere comparing the infamous fat-berg that had formed here with several hundred double decker buses or swimming pools or something but I can’t be bothered to find it. The main thing is the bergs nowhere to be seen and that’s splendid coz it meant I got to find out what caused it in the first place!!!!

First, I arrived at another side pipe connection. A short distance up this was another junction. Both pipes entering this were 5 foot max and a flap prevented flow from the Regent Street Sewer returning up them. Above this lot was a nice access corridor linking the two smaller sewers to one lid. It was fitted with numerous reflective targets and surveying equipment can presumably monitor any movement.

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Further along I passed where the fatburg had been. I’m not sure what I was expecting to arrive at next but I didn’t think it’d look like this. Four small submerged pipes pass underneath here and it took me a while to figure out the need to split the flow. Surely it’s a flawed design, though, isn’t it Mr Bazelgette? The obstruction you see below is the District and Circle tube lines, an integral part of His Victoria Embankment. I didn’t say it was clean down ‘ere…..

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I thought that was going to be all I’d see of Supersoaker. Access to the end chamber, the connection to the Low Level No.1 and the sticky, muddy overflow to ‘Owd Father Thames is within a live Tideway site and not worth risking, so went to see if things had changed next door, at the end of the Northumberland Street Sewer and they had. More outstanding work from Thames Waters finest flushers (and a bit of luck on my part) allowed me to access the very end of Regent Street Sewer via a sneaky walk through an Interceptor seldom seem with such a small amount of flow in it.

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The ‘end chamber’ is nice and pretty but it’s still filthy. The storm relief chamber was what I really wanted to see though. Access to it and the others along the Victoria Embankment would normally be through heavy ‘tide flap’ lids from the surface, again a big no-no for the likes of us, or through some low but long, heavy flap ‘valves’ from the sewer but they’re awkward and filthy. There’s actually a submarine type hatch in this chamber as well but the handles are seized with rust and they ain’t moving. Not in a month of Sundays!

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I finally figured out how the storm relief overflows at the end of these sewers work as well (I think) so I’ll try and explain.

The main sewer and the Interceptor connect at the same level – see above. The Low Level Interceptor is well below High Tide Level so like other storm reliefs without pumping stations I assume it’s useless at high tide. If the Low Level is full then flow entering the chamber through the four sumps under the tube lines can’t escape into the Low Level so the large chamber fills up and flow starts to enter the overflow chamber through the long flaps. If it’s low tide I think it sumps / siphons under the interceptor and outfalls to the river. If it’s high tide then flow can’t escape so that fills up until the tide goes out, hence the ‘tide flaps’ – normal lids would be no good. In the mean-time if storm conditions persist then I assume it backs up all the way to the tumbling bay that Ojay and I got to, which is about 200m inland. I can see why Thames Water have needed to put so much effort into cleaning this lot out and I suspect they’ll have to do it again at some point. The tube lines here are quite an obstruction.

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Northumberland Street Sewer

(from downstream to upstream for a change)

Another example of the maintenance carried out by Thames Water at the end chamber. All in a day’s work. Oh to be a flusher……Spot the difference between visits but notice the similarities between this one and the one at the end of Regents Street Sewer.

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Continuing from the other side of the District and Circle line this is as far downstream as Ojay and I got when we visited this drain just after we did Regent Street. It’s kinda short lived, mostly stoopy and hardly worth mentioning but as it’s in the area and runs alongside Regent Street Sewer for a short distance I thought I’d include the pics I’ve got of it here.

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Overflow to Regent Street Sewer approx. 5m below

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It then got real stoopy so we got out

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Savoy Street Sewer

This is another one that Ojay and I did at a similar time to the others. We just had a glance at the downstream section because just like Northumberland Street Sewer it gets very stoopy, very quickly! Again, pics here are just for completeness - I’m not exactly gonna do anything else with them!

I’ll start with a vid. It’s 5 mins long. Skip it if yer not interested, it’s not amazing and I’ll not be offended. It kinda shows what a journey through a drain can be like…..


Below is the Low Level No.2 where the video ends. Flow goes down it to the right. Twas steamy and smelly here

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TheVicar

Loyal to the Drain
Regular User
Absolutely disgusting and fascinating at the same time, I can almost smell it by just looking at the pics!
Well done for exploring and photographing that filthy lot! :thumb

The mashup of construction styles is wonderful to see and those white tiles are a unique feature.
I think that has to be the first time I’ve seen a toilet seat down the sewer, the mind boggles.

Great comparison shots from the end of the Northumberland Sewer.
They’ve done a decent job cleaning that up. Been busy putting in more ladders, railings and flow monitors too.
 

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
Love seeing the supersoaker, very harsh conditions but quality job guys.

Did you read the culverts in Paris have measured covid, and somehow manged to come to the conclusion its on the rise in certain areas? Or is that fake news?
 

NuBoid

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Fantastic report and pics...wish this was on my doorstep......................I can almost smell the magic from here at my keyboard !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ever met anyone in there on your travels either utilities or drainors ??????
 

tarkovsky

disordered
Regular User
This is awesome work, as usual. I love the little videos and I’ve started taking a few with my phone recently if only for myself to remind me what it’s really like down drains (rather than the perfectly lit, carefully framed shots we all end up emerging with!)

Wish there were some more of those walking platforms about - would make things a hell of a lot easier.
 

Scoobysrt

.
28DL Full Member
What a great report, I definatley wouldnt go there so its great to see in your pictures and I agree, those mini videos are simply the cherry on top.
Stunning work :)
 

tallginge

more tall than ginger tho.....
Regular User
Thanks for kind comments everyone.

Incredible what's under our feet isn't it. Great photos as always mate
Thanks mate, yeah it is. Plenty more good stuff to share at some point ;)

Absolutely disgusting and fascinating at the same time, I can almost smell it by just looking at the pics!
Well done for exploring and photographing that filthy lot! :thumb

The mashup of construction styles is wonderful to see and those white tiles are a unique feature.
I think that has to be the first time I’ve seen a toilet seat down the sewer, the mind boggles.

Great comparison shots from the end of the Northumberland Sewer.
They’ve done a decent job cleaning that up. Been busy putting in more ladders, railings and flow monitors too.
Thanks mate, yeah them white tiles really intrigued me when Killa said they could be under a "high end" building. Being beneath Regent Street I wondered what it could be from - alas it's nothing super special but good to know now. Yeah that toilet seat made me chuckle too, especially as it was left by a frame above flap valve. I could imagine a makeshift throne being set up there for the workers :turd TW have really excelled themselves at the end of the Northumberland and Regent Street Sewers haven't they? I was paying more attention to the lack of "cheese" that had previously plagued this chamber and the low level of the low level....... so much so that I'd completely overlooked the new equipment they installed!

Those short videos work really well.
Thanks, I thought so too. Bit annoyed that they all ended up bloody portrait but never mind.

Love seeing the supersoaker, very harsh conditions but quality job guys.

Did you read the culverts in Paris have measured covid, and somehow manged to come to the conclusion its on the rise in certain areas? Or is that fake news?
Oh there's more than one supersoaker to pass, I just didn't photograph them all. I have read about covid and sewers yes but haven't read about them in Paris. I know they can detect traces of drugs from huge volumes of sewerage so I'm not surprised. Face masks have more than one purpose shall we say, kinda like bally's.

Fantastic report and pics...wish this was on my doorstep......................I can almost smell the magic from here at my keyboard !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ever met anyone in there on your travels either utilities or drainors ??????
Thanks, wish it was on mine as well haha. I guess it's not too far at the moment. Phwoar it's not magic, though, some of that stuff - jeez! And you wouldn't be saying that with yer face inches from it creeping under some of them penstocks further downstream :p Kinda "met" people yeah albeit from a distance and no they weren't drainorz! Even filmed it once - see me Devils Gate thread or me vimeo. Nowt special but i coulda scared the living daylights outta the blokes that were drilling that night. I often think I hear voices but it's just echoes or dripping water and the mind playing tricks

This is awesome work, as usual. I love the little videos and I’ve started taking a few with my phone recently if only for myself to remind me what it’s really like down drains (rather than the perfectly lit, carefully framed shots we all end up emerging with!)

Wish there were some more of those walking platforms about - would make things a hell of a lot easier
Thanks mate. Haha yeah this one was very short lived though. I quite liked the effect the light had on the curved pipe from underneath the grill - something else I wasn't expecting

What a great report, I definatley wouldnt go there so its great to see in your pictures and I agree, those mini videos are simply the cherry on top.
Stunning work :)
Thanks, yeah wouldn't be most peoples cuppa tea this one. Glad yer like the vidz as I'm not usually one to bother with so many in a report. They do help with explaining things though.
 

Scoobysrt

.
28DL Full Member
I forgot to ask 2 things, one a simple noob question and another im thinking you left out on purpose but here goes,

Whats an intercepter?

What is the building above the white tiles to have had the posh drains?

Cheers, lol.
 

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