more tall than ginger tho.....
Wandsworth and Battersea Relief Sewer
(nearly the Devils Gate!)
(nearly the Devils Gate!)
@TheVicar and I attempted a visit of Devils Gate recently. We didn’t actually get to see it, more on that later, but I suppose it’s a nod to the trailblazers of yesteryear who first put their pics from this drain on here back in 2007. There’s not much specific information regarding London’s storm reliefs but, I came across three Annual Reports from 1904, 1913 and 1920 (extracts and links below) from the London County Council, who were responsible for its construction, carried out between 1904 and 1906. Some of the dates I found were from the London County Councils Main Drainage of London Descriptive Account, written in 1930. This is very good and can be found here.
For the curious layman that doesn't know London very well, it’s not far from Battersea and it relieves the Southern Low Level Interceptor No’s 1 & 2 into the Falcon Brook Sewer
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ca3mAAAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA166&dq=new+pumping+station+in+wandsworth&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwju_YbxtP_fAhW0tHEKHcu5DgAQ6AEIKjAA#v=onepage&q=new pumping station in wandsworth&f=falseAs regards the western portions of Wandsworth and Battersea, the floodings appear to have been due to the fact that the southern low-level sewer in Battersea-park-road is unable to take away the quantities of water brought into it by the Falcon-brook sewer, the Wandle sewer in Garratt-lane, and the western portion of the low-level sewer itself, the first-named sewer being capable of discharging more than the low-level sewer can convey. The evil will undoubtedly be mitigated to some extent by the proposed new sewer from Deptford to Battersea,
https://wellcomelibrary.org/moh/report/b1825262x/300#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=300When the Falcon Brook pumping station was erected, only one-half the pumping power for which
the station was designed was installed, but in order to obtain the best advantage for the expenditure incurred and to meet the growing needs of the surrounding district, the Council on 7th May, 1912, decided to complete the equipment of the station, at an estimated cost of £9,500. Contracts were made for the supply, delivery and erection of three gas engines and for the supply, delivery and erection of three centrifugal pumps during the year 1912, and during the current year the tender of W. H. Lorden and Son, Limited, amounting to £1,112 for the construction of the foundations for the engines and pumps was accepted.
In addition to the works included in the enlargement and flood relief schemes which had for their object specifically or incidentally the relief of sewers in the Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth—
(i.) the Wandsworth and Battersea relief sewer;
(ii.) the Falcon Brook pumping station, and
(iii.) the southern low-level sewer No. 2
it has been found necessary owing to the very large development of building operations in the borough since the schemes were prepared to undertake further works as follows…….
https://wellcomelibrary.org/moh/report/b18244105/125#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=125&z=-1.7681,-0.001,4.6466,1.8139The Council on 22nd July, 1919, had before it a scheme as follows of works to mitigate floodings
in various parts of London during times of heavy rainfall:—
On the south side of the river a storm relief sewer has been constructed to relieve floodings in Wandsworth and Battersea (No.6 above) and the Falcon pumping station at Battersea (No.5) has been reconstructed and reopened. The pumping station was closed in 1898 and was reopened in July 1907. It may be mentioned that the local authorities at Battersea particularly urged the reopening of this station, by means of which, and the existing pumping station at Heathwall, the low-lying areas in Wandsworth and Battersea are materially relieved in times of heavy rain.
I’d forgotten about this one, to be honest, until the Vicar mentioned it. @Zero put a report on here in 2007, which looked good and there was more to be seen apparently – let’s go! Ojay had mentioned that drains south of the Thames are weird, he's right – I can’t really get my head around them yet. We saw some nice features I’ve not seen anywhere else as well, which was pretty cool.
Most of South London is very low lying, as the map below illustrates, which meant it didn’t drain at all at high tide or very quickly after heavy rains. Constructing a drainage system was hard enough for the Metropolitan Board of Works (1856 to 1888) and even more so for the London County Council (1889 to 1973) when there were more obstructions both above and below ground. There’s fewer natural rivers south side as well so it’s not as simple as interceptors flowing west to east with storm drains/ lost rivers in the ‘obvious’ valleys leading to the Thames. Most of the interceptors have to be pumped twice before the sewage can be treated, unlike the north side where it's just the once.
For a change I’ll describe it in the order that we explored it, starting from where we first got in.
Particularly grateful to @siologen (again) for helping us with this one . We still managed to get off to a bit of a false start, though, after we incorrectly ‘guessed’ the wrong lid. We should’ve known step irons don’t usually lead to the good stuff! We did get to finally relieve ourselves, though and see this, which was nice. For those that don’t know, it’s basically a symbol of Russian Communism. It represents the unity of industrial workers (the Hammer) and the agricultural workers and peasants (the Sickle) during the 1917 revolution.
We fought our way back up and out in plain view of a police car, which unknown to us from below, had stopped to allow pedestrians to cross the road, nearby. They’d obviously got more important things to do than to interrupt our enjoyment as they didn’t stop. I must admit we were surprised at this but agreed they’d made the right decision and ought to have better ways of spending their time. Bewilderment clearly surpassing instinct for once…..
We then fought our way into and down the correct lid. This was the view up from bottom of the ladders. I’d not seen a setup like this across the river. We walked downstream first. As we were walking, we were convinced we could hear trains passing closer and more regularly than usual, despite knowing there’s far less tube lines south of the river.
The pipe was 6ft diameter with hardly any flow at all but then it started to get a bit deeper. Then this came into view and we realised why. Again, not seen anything like this before but it appears to be an inline repair. Pic looking upstream
Just beyond it was this – pic looking downstream! Anyone who’s been to The Works in Manc (or similarly Lucky Charms LON) will remember the flow comes down the opposite way to join the other branch. Obviously, flow goes round to the right here, so why the apparent ‘split’ where flow could’ve gone left, were it not now bricked up AND right under the jamrag washing line? Fucked if I know! Indecisiveness is my best guess – neither has been added on to the other, has it.
Last minute edit - will make more sense if you read the rest first: I suppose both the Low Level No.1 overflow and that other overflow I forgot to photograph (middle pipe and right pipe from chamber when looking upstream at them – if they’re not both actually from the same 4ft pipe) may have previously overflowed into different pipes, without the steps down and flowed into this nice forked junction from the opposite (expected) direction. If what I think is a repair is actually covering a shaft leading to the Falcon Brook it’d explain some of the newer, lower stuff at least and changing it to what’s currently there would have been another ingenious, if modern solution to what seems to me to be an unknown problem! Appologies if this makes no sense whatsoever – can’t be bothered to draw what I don’t really know myself!
Washing line from other side
Turn around 180° and what happened here then? Another change of plan midway through construction? A later alteration? It obviously has something to do with the seemingly modern concrete chamber round to the right because the flow now goes down there.
We emerged in this chamber from the pipe on the left – see the concrete berm from the pic above?
The downstream view is a bit different from when Zero (silent uk) was here. It’s the Falcon Brook, flowing from right to left, which was culverted in Bazelgettes Interceptor Scheme in the 1860’s and became a CSO from here downwards when the Wandsworth and Battersea Relief Sewer, that we’d just been walking through, was connected. That’s how I understand it anyway – we were obviously unable to see what else, if anything, connects to the brook further upstream or see the outfall to the Thames downstream. The blow up flamingo and croc were still in the van…..
The shower coming down the vented manhole shaft was from a ‘small’ local pump that intermitantly discharged a hell of a lot of water for about 10 to 15 seconds in every 20. This was probably what we initially thought were the train noises/ rumbles, heard ¼ mile away! The video, fantastically edited by @Nickindroy (Cheers bud!) shows the downpour in action. It’s easy to mis-time it as Pat’s mate found out……
The pipe on the right (of the three) went immediately round to the right, under a small (4ft ish) pipe at right angles to it and right again to the bottom of a small(ish), stepped chamber. I’d left my camera in the concrete chamber and forgot to return for a pic, annoyingly.
The middle pipe was a bit strange. It’s formed of plastic with no joints (something else I’d never seen before) presumably to prevent leaks. The tunnelling machine must’ve had a hopper (or a separate machine working closely with it did) and the pipe formed as it moved along. Because the area above and below ground level had changed radically over the years and as lots of this stuff was tunnelled it’s hard to work out exactly what we were beneath to work out what pipe was the interceptor – I’d completely lost my bearings (and didn’t take a compass!)
At the end of the plastic, which was slippery and stoopy, was this brick chamber.
From inside the short brick pipe, before the steps (above pic) and looking downstream back to plastic pipe
Above the steps was this lovely wrought(?) iron pipe carrying what I believe to be the Low Level No.1. Interceptor, constructed 1863 to 69. If this wasn’t the LL1 then it’s a main sewer and the one I forgot to photograph was the LL1 – they’re both at a similar level and one almost certainly flows into the other – unless they’re actually the same pipe with two overflows a short distance apart!
I climbed up and took a pic - looking downstream. I'm not sure if it’s detailed enough now but when I zoomed right in, I could just make out pipes joining or something happening in the distance. Straddlin’ ur interceptorz with leaky wadorz – thighs a burnin’!
That’s about it from this end. We retraced steps and walked back upstream, past our lid towards the Low Level No.2. about 15-20 mins away
Meters before we got to it the pipe turned sharply east and above was a jam-rag soaked hatch/ grill with ladders leading up to it. We didn’t lift it but I reckon there’s something up there – probably a small overflow or chamber - why else would it be so disgusting. While I was having a ganders around what lay beyond TheVicar informed me that rankness had begun pouring through this grill – how we’ll get to find out what’s up there I don’t really know but I don’t suspect it’ll end up being pleasant or worth our while finding out. Here’s the overflow chamber for the Low Level No.2, that appears to have been plastered with spraycrete.
I had to see what lay beyond the three overflow holes, as when I looked through one, all seemed placid and spacious again. I don’t blame TheVicar for choosing not to follow me in thigh wadorz, though, it was a crawl to get there.
The Low Level No.2 interceptor, constructed mostly in tunnel and at this point approximately 20m deep and 6ft in diameter. The whole thing was constructed between 1904 and 1908 and again between 1909 and 1913. I don’t know if this means construction stopped for a year or if it was extended. Pic looking west (upstream).
Turning around 180° to look east, facing downstream now – soz, it’s handheld. This could be the start of the extension - if that’s what it means.
The interceptor dropped down a few feet and was joined by a similar sized pipe, entering from the south, carrying much more flow.
To the right of where the above pic was taken there was a shaft similar to the one we had entered through, only it had three sets of ladders and a constant trickle of water splashed off all of them. I thought that I’d get to find out what lay beyond the jamrag covered grill that we didn’t fancy passing, so went up them. There wasn’t much of interest, in the end, just another split lid at the top. I’ve never seen a brick arch peel away to one side like this before – more new stuff. Pic looking upstream again. I’d knocked the focus ring on this bloody lens again
Up the first set of ladders was a grilled hatch with ladders leading back down into the full sewer. Not going in there…..
At the top of the second set of ladders was a nice little ledge/ brick arch. Above that was the third set of ladders, a walkway to the split lid and the source of the water, which I tried to dam, using whatever I could find so I could take a half decent pic looking up without getting wet - I failed on all counts
We’d got lots more to do that day, so I made my way back to meet TheVicar and we both made our escape. No drama’s at the lid this time.
I was grateful, as ever, for TheVicars good company down there and in particular for his backlighting skillz on this one – more so than ever before I was well pleased with some of these pics and delighted to see some different solutions to the same sort of problems seen elsewhere in London’s sewers – a great choice. If only I could understand, for certain, the reasons behind the modifications at the downstream end and yeah it was a shame that Tideway (or maybe it was the tide?) stopped us from seeing the Devils Gate and the rest of the Falcon Brook.
Thanks for lookin’