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Victorian station called “a cathedral to sewage”

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This ornate building sitting on the Greenway in Stratford overlooking the Olympics site is a popular visitor attraction.

Thames Water receives hundred of requests a year from customers and sightseers asking to visit the 19th century building in Abbey Lane.

And the Abbey Mills Pumping Station has proven to be such a popular day out that Thames Water has decided to open it to the public for two days in September.

Resembling a medieval castle, with its many turrets and towers, the original pumping station was designed by pioneering Victorian engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette who was also responsible for the sewer network for central London in 1868.

Steve Shine, Thames Water chief operating officer, said: “The majority of what we do is out of sight, out of mind. Opening up some of our sites provides a unique opportunity for our customers, who are curious to know more about what we do, to see it for themselves.”

The station was built to send sewage from north London and lift it around 40ft so that it could flow for several miles until it could be emptied into the River Thames at a point downstream so it wouldn’t return to the London streets with the tide every day.

Built on the cruciform plan, each arm originally housed two steam-powered, single cylinder beam engines (now two electric pumps). The station has been called, “a cathedral to sewage”.

As the site is operational, no visitors wearing open-toe shoes will be admitted and disabled visitors should make contact in advance so necessary preparations can be made.

n For more on visiting Abbey Mills, email Kirsty Jones at kirsty.e.jones@thameswater.co.uk.

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