Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visited the ‘Cathedral of Sewage’ today to learn more about the biggest expansion to London’s sewer network since Victorian times.
HRH toured Abbey Mills pumping station and entered a brick-built sewer in east London to see first-hand how work is progressing on the 25km-long super sewer.
Set for completion in 2024, the Thames Tideway Tunnel will vastly reduce the amount of untreated sewage which flows into the world-famous river following heavy rain, intercepting and pumping it to Europe’s largest treatment works in Beckton, east London, where it will be converted into renewable energy by Thames Water.
The Princess Royal, who has a keen interest in the engineering behind the project, was shown around the iconic pumping station on October 30 by Tideway CEO Andy Mitchell and Thames Water’s chief operating officer Lawrence Gosden, who explained how it will connect to the Lee Tunnel and the capital’s current sewer network.
Mr Gosden said: “We were delighted to show HRH The Princess Royal around one of our most historic Victorian buildings and demonstrate how it will remain at the heart of London’s waste operations for the next 100 years.
“Thames Water is fully committed to protecting and enhancing the environment, and we are very excited about the positive impact this enormous new sewer will have on the health of the Thames and our customers in the near future.”
Abbey Mills pumping station was built by Victorian engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette in 1868 as part of his network of underground sewers – and remains the unsung hero of the city’s infrastructure today. While still in excellent condition, the vast network of tunnels now lack the capacity required for modern-day London, with a population of 9m which continues to rise.
Mr Mitchell said: “We were honoured to welcome Her Royal Highness to Abbey Mills today. With construction across London progressing well, our team is buoyed by the interest in their work. We all feel very passionately about our mission to clean up London’s river, so to get the Royal seal of approval is very special.”
The Thames Tideway Tunnel will stretch from west to east London and is designed to serve the needs of the capital for many generations to come, preventing millions of tonnes of sewage entering the river every year from combined sewer overflows.