A Photographers & Visitors Guide & Timeless Stories

Crossness Pumping Station


18 pics.  The Crossness Pumping Station ⇒ , just east of London, together with 82 miles of brick intercepting sewers, 450 miles of main sewers and 13,000 miles of local sewers were connected and officially opened in 1865.  Visiting ⇒ sometimes steaming but not always open so please check the link.


This was to solve :-


The Great Stink

At that time they believed that a miasma (odour) was the cause of diseases, such as cholera which killed thousands.  Indeed a city could not grow or prosper without solving the problem.  The solution, of a well designed sewage system, was a major part of resolving the actual cause of such diseases, infected water.  

Another important contribution was a clean water supply system.  An example of this and the great engines can be found at the London Water and Steam Museum ⇐.

The London sewage system was designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette who also designed many other Victorian London buildings and mustaches. 🙂




The pumping station continued in use until the 1950’s, abandoned until 2003 when one of the four engines and most of the ornate ironwork were restored.


Visitors get hard hats.





Each engine was of the triple expansion type where; a high pressure steam cylinder (the lower here) received high pressure steam (lots of pounds per square inch) over a small number of square inches, an intermediate pressure cylinder received lower pressure exhaust from the high pressure cylinder over more square inches and the intermediate cylinder exhaust was passed to the largest low pressure cylinder.  An efficient way to use all of the pressure provided by a boiler.


The high pressure cylinder in the basement.


The intermediate and low pressure cylinders on the ground floor.


A chap with a proper hat is always reassuring. 🙂


One of the main beams (the refurbished one) on the first floor.


And, from underneath.  The shaft on the left operates one of the pumps and the one on the right leads to :-


..  the crank and wheel which simply maintain a steady impetus.


The governor (or regulator) is attached to the engine so that it spins.  The faster it spins the more the weights are forced outward by centrifugal force.  As the weights are forced outward they depress the central plunger which reduces the flow of steam and slows the engine achieving a regulated speed.


And, outside on a wet day..


I hope you enjoyed your visit.

9 responses

  1. Very nice article. Indeed the removal and treatment of sewerage is critical to the health and well-being of the city’s inhabitants. True it took a crisis to effect action, but it served London well for almost a hundred years!


    October 16, 2016 at 15:09

  2. 3 million pounds in the 1800s??? Wow, what would the equivalent be today?? ❤
    Diana xo


    October 16, 2016 at 15:31

    • Difficult to say. Inflation would put it at x112 but labour costs would make it much more. Certainly a mammoth undertaking. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      October 16, 2016 at 20:54

  3. Absolutely amazing history! Kudos to London for making a sewage pumping station into a beautiful example of architectual art. It has gorgeous interiors. The arches and colors look Islamic and are are really beautiful. Now when I return to London, I must visit the sewer!


    October 16, 2016 at 17:55

    • They certainly seemed to put an importance on appearance and probably invented sayings such as “If it’s worth doing then it’s worth doing well” and “Don’t spoil the broth for a ha’peth of tar”.

      If you do visit London please be aware of the multitudes of mutated malodorous budgies, discarded goldfish and evil animated teddy bears. The sewers are even worse. 😀 😀


      October 16, 2016 at 21:00

  4. I saw this on a TV show and thought it couldn’t possibly be real – like Cindy says, why put that much work and decoration into a sewage plant? But it *is* real! [adding to the list of places to visit]


    October 16, 2016 at 22:45

    • Perhaps such things were like talismans against the less pleasant side of Victorian life. They were a strange lot in many ways.

      There are only two or three opportunities to visit this year. Best check the website.

      Thanks for dropping by. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      October 17, 2016 at 13:55

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