Friday, 30 October 2015

Riverside east of the Tower, south bank. Crossness Engines,.

Riverside.  East of the Tower the south bank. Crossness Engines

This posting covers sites on the south bank only

Preserved 19th sewage pumphouse complex with amazing beam engines, plus a derelict golf course.

Post to the northern section of this square. Dagenham Dock
Post to the north Dagenham Riverside
Post to the east Dagenham Marshes
Post to the south Crossness Sewage Works
Post to the west Crossness and North Thamesmead

Belvedere Road
Crossness Works. This covers the area of the original works. The modern works is to the east and south. The works was originally built 1856 having been commissioned by the Metropolitan Board of Works and finished in 1865. It was designed by Joseph Bazalgette, William Webster was the contractor for much of the work and it was opened by the Prince of Wales.  The original facilities of 1862-5 comprised 6 acres of brick- roofed storage tanks and an engine house for pumping out the sewage on the falling tide. These are now disused.  There were 51 staff under a superintendent and housing and some facilities were provided. The buildings are now a museum run by an independent trust. Prince Consort has been restored after over 20 years work and is working. Work is now going on with Victoria
Engine House. This contains four beam engines by James Watt & Son, laid out on a grand scale. It formerly had a mansard roof with a clock in a gable facing the river placed over the main door – this was replaced with flat concrete in 1927.  The white Gault brick exterior is a rectangular box with polychrome embellishments, with fantastic decorative brickwork and dogtooth ornamentation, corbel blocks, and Portland stone columns. There are monograms of MBW – Metropolitan Board of Works.  Inside all was originally brightly coloured. The Cast-iron galleries have stiff-leaf capitals and an elaborately ornamented central octagon. There is cast iron work of outstanding quality in the galleries and in the pillars and screens of the central octagonal shafts. The triple-expansion cylinders can be seen at an intermediate level and the actual beams at the top level. In the basement are the pumps. The Engines, Victoria, Prince Consort, Albert Edward and Alexandra, were built at James Watt’s & Co.  Soho Birmingham but they were triple compounded in 1901 by Goodfellows of Hyde in Lancashire.  Originally they each had a single cylinder 4ft in diameter with a 9 ft stroke At 11 revolutions per minute, 6 tons of sewage per stroke per engine were pumped up into a 27-million-imperial-gallon reservoir, and was released into the Thames during the ebbing tide.  In 1899 the front was obscured by the erection of the triple engine house.
Triple Engine House. By 1897, additional pumping capacity was needed, and four extra pumps operated by triple-expansion steam engines were installed in an extension, designed to fit in with Bazalgette's main engine house, to the north of the older building. In 1913, the triple expansion steam engines were replaced by diesel engines, which are still to be seen in the triple expansion engine house. In 1913, the triple expansion steam engines were replaced by diesel engines, which are still in the triple expansion engine house,
Boiler house. The steam required to power the engines was raised by 12 Cornish boilers with single "straight-through" flues situated in the Boiler House to the south of the Engine House, and which consumed 5,000 tons of Welsh coal annually. The Crossness Works merely disposed of raw sewage into the river seawards, and in 1882, display the sculptural possibilities of round-arched brickwork. 12 Cornish boilers and built in a Victorian Romanesque style.
Storm Water Pump House. This was the Centrifugal Engine House. Built in 1914 by the London County Council. Contains electric pumps used for storm sewage but these were originally diesel.  The Building is in brick and Portland stone and the style goes with the 1865 ones.
Chimney. The chimney, resembling a separated campanile, topped with an iron cowl, stood some 200ft high to the eastern end of the Boiler House. Since demolished in the 1950s.
Covered reservoir. Originally the Southern Outfall discharged into a 6 ½ acre covered reservoir and was discharged into the Thames according to the tide. Beyond the black palisade fence of the garden to the south, is the top of the reservoir which now holds storm water. The level top of the reservoir has grasses which may contain relics of species undisturbed since the building of the works complex. The old ramps which led down into the reservoirs can be seen at the south end of this area,
There were once 20 houses for workers in a row on each side of the reservoir with a Superintendent's house at the far end. Demolished.
Fitting Shop. This is behind the Boiler House and is matched by another building at the other end of the Garden terrace. The one at the west end was the Valve House, at present a store,
‘Garage’. This was formerly used as a shed for the site tramway, and as an apprentices school.
Precipitation Works, Built in 1891 this is a large building with the boiler house to the north and engine house to the south. They are single storey brick buildings with slated pitch roofs in a style like the 1865 buildings which originally housed the boiler house and steam engines for pumping sewage through the precipitation process.  
Gardens The buildings were set within formal landscaping including a Garden Terrace between two buildings south of the Boiler House. There was also a tree-lined drive. There are a number of mature trees and remnants of the planting scheme of the Garden Terrace. Near the access to the Thames Path a small wildlife garden has been created, supported by a Biffa Award.
Thamesview Golf Course. This was Riverside golf course with nine holes. Now apparently closed.

Sources
Crossness Engines Trust. Web site
London Borough of Bexley. Web site
London Gardens Online. Web site
Spurgeon. Discover Erith and Crayford.
Thames Water. Web site

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