Crossness Pumping Station - Samsung Gallery S7

Date Visited: March 2016

Following on from my visit to London Road Fire Station, the second day of my assignment shooting the Samsung Galaxy S7 for O2 took me to Crossness Pumping Station on the banks of the Thames.

This place has been on my list of places to visit for years, but being on the other side of the East of London makes it difficult to visit from the north and it's never been open on my occasional visits to the smoke so to be paid to go and take pictures there was a huge win.

The four beam engines in the pumping station were built by James Watt & Co and currently one is fully restored, one partially restored and two are unrestored. For the purposes of the assignment I focused on the unrestored areas of the building.

The pumping station was built between 1859 and 1865 as part of the London sewer network engineered by Sir Joseph Bazalgette for the Metropolitan Board of Works, whose MBW monogram can be found in the works embellishing various pieces of decor.

The four engines were named "Victoria", "Prince Consort", "Albert Edward" and "Alexandra" and were joined in 1897 by a triple expansion steam engine built by Goodfellow of Hyde in Manchester. This was installed in an extension at the side of the building but didn't last long as in 1913 it was replaced by Crossley diesel engines which are still in place but in a very poor condition as all the areas below ground were filled with sand to prevent methane ingress although there does appear to have been some water ingress - perhaps not surprising as the site is on a marsh next to the river.

The beam engines were decommissioned in 1956 and basically left to rot. The building was made Grade 1 listed in 1970 and restoration of Prince Consort began in 1985 as this was the last to run in 1953.

The building is quite spectacular and to me represents the essence of what the Victorian engineers were brilliant at - fine attention to detail that no-one beyond the workers would ever see, but there because of the sheer pride that they had in their engineering and municipal projects.

The pumping station is on land that remains part of a working water board site so access can only be had on certain days of the year but I can highly recommend a visit. Check the Crossness Engines Trust website for more details