The Winchester

"Not all those who wander are lost" – Tolkien

Labyrinth – October 2010

with 3 comments

Mr N was the only one able to participate in tonight’s activities, so the two of us headed down from Reading Town to London, and went promptly to the lid we’d identified at the weekend. After climbing into the bowels of the earth, we had a choice to either walk along the middle level sewer which was flooded with piss, pigs blood, fat from Chinese restaurants, shit, used tamps and johns and various old body parts. OR we could go deeper into the North Kensington Relief sewer, a deliciously slippery 5 foot tall barrel. We chose the latter.

Slippery Slidey Steps of Death (And fetid bloodrags)

Without really knowing anything about where we wanted to go, all we really knew is that we wanted to find the cool bits; the bits with the steps and the junctions. We waded/slid down the pipe and sure as eggs is eggs, this is what we were looking for. I could try to explain the junction but to be honest, the gentlemen at Sub Urban have already done it, and my only understanding of it comes from their excellent explanation.

Pure Brick.

This was proper red brick, Edwardian goodness. Look at the different coloured bricks making up the edgings. NO idea whether there’s a reason for this or if it’s just to look pretty for 80 years to give us 21st century drainor boys a nice surprise when we venture down. Whoever found this would have probably been quite excited.

Wibbly Woo Moment.

We had a moment when my companion decided that something had changed. “Grab your things, We’re getting out of here” was hollered at me, and dutifully, I moved as the trickle of water in the bottom of the drain rose by about 2mm as his foot caused it to ripple. We’d discussed how the drain was an interceptor (is it?) and how we would have to see how it went, we were unsure of how the system worked and thought that flooding was a possibility of sorts. Having realised quickly that this was perhaps not hugely feasible and wasn’t going to happen on a cool dry night at 10pm, we carried on down the steps.

Flying Saucer

The stairs led down to another pipe which led on and on. These were best traversed backwards,  I think. We couldn’t be bothered to walk more than 5 minutes of it, so we went back topside and into Tesco Express smelling like poo.

Written by Winch

October 21st, 2010 at 11:05 am

Posted in Drains

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3 Responses to 'Labyrinth – October 2010'

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  1. Your first pic is great, I know how awkward a space that is to try to get a decent shot in.

    The blue bricks on the edging and the invert are used as they are a First Quality – Class A engineering brick (not always blue). By the time the North Western Storm Relief was constructed there were three general grades of engineering brick being used in sewer applications. First Quality – Class A, was the most durable and so was used as seen in your pics, for those areas that are subject to the abrasive flow of the water and all it carries with it. The other two grades are ‘First Quality’ and ‘Second Quality’. First Quality bricks are used for the remainder of the inner ring of the sewer, above the invert. Second quality bricks would be used for subsequent outer rings of brickwork and in manhole shafts, access passageways, etc.




    21 Dec 10 at 6:52 pm

  2. @Jondoe
    Thanks for the info, that’s interesting. I guess there’s a reason for everything they’ve done down there?


    21 Dec 10 at 7:45 pm

  3. Yup, most often there’s a reason for it . . even for the craziness of the crypt overflow chamber there’s a good reason. If there ‘was’ any spare money kicking about then it was often spent aboveground, on beautifying pumping stations and the likes; embellishing the things that folk could see, those buildings being the visible face of works that are for the most part hidden from sight.

    As I recall, in recent (past ten years) times, it was myself and st00p who first stumbled across that junction, it was quite something to find as we approached from downstream and came up those stairs to be greeted by that. Zero had earlier the same year explored the downstream reaches and named the drain Labyrinth.


    21 Dec 10 at 9:42 pm

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