Abbey Mills Pumping Station

Industrial in/near The Underground Map, existing between 1868 and now

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Industrial · The Underground Map · E15 ·
MARCH
8
2017

Abbey Mills pumping station is a much-​​admired masterpiece of Victorian public works engineering, built in 1865–8 and nicknamed ’the cathedral of sewage’.

The Abbey Mill was an ancient tidal watermill in West Ham, dating back to at least the 12th century.

It was sited on Channelsea Island in the Channelsea River and was one of the eight watermills on the River Lea recorded in the Domesday Book. The ’Abbey’ part of the name comes from its ownership by Stratford Langthorne Abbey, a Cistercian monastery founded in 1134 by William de Montfichet. The abbey disappeared during the reign of Henry VIII.

The area nearby the site of the original Abbey Mill is now known as Abbey Mills. There are several pumping stations located there, including the original Abbey Mills Pumping Station.

Abbey Mills Pumping Station was designed by engineer Joseph Bazalgette, Edmund Cooper, and architect Charles Driver. It was built between 1865 and 1868, housing eight beam engines by Rothwell & Co. of Bolton. With two engines on each arm of a cruciform plan, with an elaborate Byzantine style, it was described as ’The Cathedral of Sewage’. Another of Bazalgette’s designs, Crossness Pumping Station, is located south of the River Thames at Crossness, at the end of the Southern Outfall Sewer.

The station’s pumps drew waste water from the drains of north London and sent it to filter-beds located at Beckton.

A modern pumping station (F Station) was completed in 1997 about 200 metres south of the original station. Its workload will increase signi­ficantly in 2021 when it begins to transfer flows from the newly built Thames Tideway Tunnel.

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