The Anonymous Widower

Around Chambers Wharf

Chambers Wharf has made the news recently, as Thames Water want to make it one of the sites from where London’s Thames Super Sewer is to be built. So I went and had a look round this lunchtime.

I couldn’t actually see much of the site as it is surrounded by blue fencing. But it strikes me that if they do any serious digging from here, that because the site is so close to the Thames, any serious engineer would take the spoil out that way. If Thames Water don’t do that it will probably cost them a lot more, as lorry journeys through a city like London are always delayed by traffic and only carry a few tonnes, whereas a proper barge can carry many times more. If we look at the Olympic site, a lot of materials like concrete and spoil were moved in and out by rail.  Also go to Pudding Mill Lane and look at the portal for CrossRail, which is for two much larger tunnels, where the spoil will probably be removed by train.  So opponents of the use of the Chambers Wharf site, who say there will be thousands of lorry journeys are not talking engineering sense. The site is also quite large and the hole is only going to be under thirty metres wide, so there should be quite a lot of space for machinery to move the spoil to the river.

I have no direct interest in whether the sewer is built, but I have a friend, who used to live in an area of London, that flooded badly every ten or so years. The sewer will hopefully stop all that.

Although I should say, that as someone who has spent a lot of time around project management and managers, I will say that what gets built in the end, will be quite unlike what was originally proposed. That’s what good project management is about.  It makes a project better, cheaper and less disruptive. Hopefully, because of the sensitivity of this project, Thames Water will follow the example of Transport for London on the East London Line and hire the best people and contractors to build the sewer.

I was upset though to see the bench that had held Doctor Salter’s statue is now bare. A picture of it is in this set of pictures.

January 26, 2012 - Posted by | News, World | , , , ,


  1. 2 comments: the figures about lorry movements are from Thames Water’s own consultation documents, so they are not made up. Due to the tide there is only so much that can be moved by barge. Also the sewer is unlikely to deal with flooding at all. See Chicago and Milwaukee in the US that did much the same project and ended up with massive extra bills due to flood.
    If you want to get in touch with the local campaign they can tell you how many other solutions that still clean the Thames are available to Thames Water and their clever project managers and engineers. If you get in touch with the local *top in the country* primary school, they will tell you there is already disruption to the lives of the children and this only from the current mismanagement of the site.

    Comment by Philip | January 29, 2012 | Reply

    • I have no axe to grind in any direction, as far as the Thames Tunnel is concerned and as I’m retired now, I was more using the Thames Tunnel project as an example, how what gets build in the end, is very often so different to what was originally planned, due to good engineering and project planning. The nearest comparable project from an engineering point of view, although it’s for a very different purpose is Crossrail.What is getting built there is very different to what was originally proposed and the access sites are either within stations or on railway land.

      Having seen the site, what would you propose to do with it, if it wasn’t used for the Thames Tunnel? It looked a typical brownfield site to me.

      Comment by AnonW | January 30, 2012 | Reply

  2. Anonw, it looks like you accidentally missed a number of these banners by Riverside Primary School, which is right next to the site?

    Chambers Wharf was supposed to be developed into one of London’s flagship green schemes (according to the Environment Agency) from 2010-2013, with long overdue restoration of the Thames Path along the river.  Now that TW have their claws on it, this is unlikely to be delivered before 2026 at the earliest.  And with the sewage venting chimneys and the shaft maintenance access that would be the permanent legacy of the super-sewer, who knows what would end up getting built and by when?  A real loss of opportunity to the entire local community and a nightmare for the pupils who will have to fend up to one lorry every 5mins and endure the noise and dust in their nearby classrooms. But of course, let’s not loose track of the fact that Chambers Wharf is a ‘brownfield site’…

    The super-sewer is a financial scam designed to milk the unsuspecting UK public for the profit of Australian investment bankers.  It has to be stopped.  Save Your Riverside are campaigning for everyone’s benefit, not to displace the problem by a few hundred yards..

    Comment by Chris | January 31, 2012 | Reply

    • If I was being being selfish, I wouldn’t want it built, as where I live I’ll get no benefit from it and will have to pay extra on my water charges. But when you’ve lost your wife and son to cancer and suffered a serious stroke, you lose your selfish attitudes and want to get the best done.

      Look at this post here.

      It shows the 1970s ventilation shaft for the Victoria line in one of Islington’s nicest squares. Not bad for the 1970s and not brutalist at all. I suspect that Thames Water will leave behind plant on the site, that blends in and is a lot less intrusive than things done in the past. They have said they’ll put the plant on the foreshore at Blackfriars under the bridge and I suspect that the plant at Chambers Wharf will be in a similar plant I am not a sewage engineer, but when I worked on chemical plant at ICI, the lower they could be built, the less they cost.

      As to it being a financial scam, I know nothing of that. I am not a financial person, although I did work as a programmer for Lloyds bank for many years and consequently know an awful lot about retail banking and its problems.

      But let’s face it very little has been done to London’s sewers since 1911, except for upgrading at Abbey Mills and Beckton. I have been over both Abbey Mills and Crossness and advise you to do the same, if you get a chance. If you don’t want to talk to Thames Water, then go to Crossness as it’s run by a charity.

      At Abbey mills there is a very good example of how if you blend old technology with the best of the new. The backup sewage pumps that are used when large amounts of water are flowing down the Northern outfall sewer, which runs along the side of the Olympic Park from Victoria Park to West Ham, use the old Victorian pumps driven by 1930s electric motors, which replaced the steam engines. The motors are being replaced with modern ones, which are connected to the old pumps using carbon-fibre driveshafts built by the same people who make deriveshafts for Formula 1. They expect this new technology to last several decades.

      Comment by AnonW | January 31, 2012 | Reply

  3. As Philip said, there are many other solutions that still clean the Thames available to Thames Water. The use of Chambers Wharf (a very dense residential area) is not instrumental to a clean Thames and/or reduced risk of flooding in the area.

    Dont mistake opposition to Chambers Wharf use as a site as selfish opposition to a clean Thames. Avoiding the destruction of peoples lives in the Chambers Wharf area whilst still achieivng the objectives of a clean Thames is possible.

    Comment by David | February 13, 2012 | Reply

    • The trouble with your protest is that it appears to be selfish to the powers that be. As I said, I have no interest in what Thames Water do. Except of course, if they did nothing, I might not have to anything pay for it.

      I had a drink today with my financial adviser, who is a keen canoeist on the Thames. He is definitely of the opinion that the river needs cleaning up, although he will admit it’s much better than ten years ago.

      Comment by AnonW | February 13, 2012 | Reply

      • The actions of the Save Your Riverside only appear selfish to those people that do not consider their message properly and only hear ‘no to the super sewer’. Their campaign is not and never has been a call for a abandonment of a clean up of the Thames or for a dirty Thames.

        Comment by David | February 14, 2012

  4. […] has called in Thames Water proposal for a super sewer under the Thames. As I said in a previous post. Although I should say, that as someone who has spent a lot of time around project management and […]

    Pingback by The Mayor Calls in the Supersewer « The Anonymous Widower | April 27, 2012 | Reply

  5. […] street sculpture, like the characters on Brixton station. That is unless it gets nicked like the good Doctor Salter. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

    Pingback by Sir Anthony Caro and Dave Pearson « The Anonymous Widower | May 5, 2012 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: