Monday, 22 June 2015

Riverside east of the Tower and north of the river. Beckton

Riverside east of the Tower, north bank
Beckton


Marshland which became the site of a major 19th century gas works and 19th century sewage works.  Now encroached by housing development, some modern industry and the light railway depot

Post to the south Galleons and Gallions
Post to the north Jenkins Lane
Post to the east Creekmouth
Post to the west Beckton


Armada Way
Armada Point BDM. Delivery contracting company.
Docklands Light Railway Beckton Depot. The depot was built to service and stable the trains needed for the operation of the Beckton Extension and for the use of double-unit trains across the network. There are facilities for 45 trains. Rail access is from spurs from the running lines from the Beckton branch. This is on part of the gas works site
Control Centre, this was built In preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games to ensure the rail service remained operational in the event of a major incident. 

Beckton Gas Works
This square covers only the eastern section of this very large gas works. Gas holders and retort houses.
Beckton Gas Works. The (Chartered) Gas Light and Coke Co. bought land in 1868 from the Ironmongers Company for new works to serve much of Metropolitan Thames. The earliest of all gas companies they had hitherto been based in central and east London with a headquarters which remained in Westminster. From the late 1860s the London gas industry was under government pressure for small companies to amalgamate, close small works and open big out of town works. Beckton was the Chartered’s response and the works was opened in 1870, and became the second largest in Britain at its peak serving 45 million customers. It was named after the then company chair, Simon Adams Beck.  The site allowed the easy delivery of coal from North East England: and the company had its own fleet of steam colliers, and its own railway into the site.  The design and construction of the works was undertaken by Frederick John Evans, the Company's Chief Engineer, assisted by Vitruvius Wyatt, and the contractor was John Aird. Originally four retort houses with plant and gasholders were installed and a gas main was installed to the City and Westminster. G. C. Trewby was the first superintendent living in a company house on site. Beckton continued to develop and eventually 14 retort houses were built. In 1890 a carburetted water gas plant was introduced and in 1931 batteries of coke ovens were built. During the Second World War Beckton was seriously bombed and three holders and the mains were badly damaged closing the works for a fortnight. Later in the war over 200 identified bombs were dropped on the works. In 1959 the first pipe-line supplies of petroleum began and a pipe line was built to storage tanks at Shell Haven and Coryton. Further new technologies were introduced during the 1960s.  With the advent of North Sea Gas the works was closed in the early 1970s, although operation holders remain on site. Famously the site was used for the filming of Full Metal Jacket and Vitruvius Wyatt’s carefully designed buildings were plastered with Vietnamese slogans and turned into ruins. They remained in this state for some years but have now been demolished. Much of the site returned to birch scrub with many birds and plants. A beetle was found here known nowhere else in Britain. 
Gas Holders.  The three remaining holders have apparently been demolished. It may be worth noting that Kent County boundary went straight through the site of the original gasholders. Two of the holders remaining on site in 2000 and listed were: No. 8 built by the original engineer Vitruvius Wyatt in 1876.Ot had unusual buttress- like columns in cast iron with fancy latticework. No. 9 was designed by the later engineer George Trewby in 1890-2 with a capacity of 8 million cubic ft. It was the third largest holder then built in Britain. Its lattice steel, six-tier guide frame was entirely rational.
Beckton Waterfront Business Park.  As part of the preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games in London the London Development Authority purchased the former Beckton Gas Works site to provide alternative employment space for industrial businesses from the Lower lea Valley.  The site is bounded by Beckton Sewage Treatment Works and poplar trees will screen it.  The building layout follows the principal geometry of the site. 

Beckton Sewage Works
Beckton Works. A sewage works was established here by the Metropolitan Board of Works, which served the whole of North London. It was built by Costain in 1864. And was effectively the terminus of the Northern Outfall sewer. Originally the untreated flow went straight into the river here.  Major work was done by the London County Council in the 1950s and now the sewage from some of the millions of Londoners living north of the River is treated here along with surface water resulting from rainfall.  It was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1959.  Sewage enters Beckton by gravity through five 9 ft diameter sewers. The coarse screens remove everything larger than 5cm across. Further screens and channels remove grit and plastics. It then moves to the sedimentation process. The sewage then flows into large tanks, where the finer solids settle by gravity. It takes about four hours to flow along these tanks, and about 70 of the solids are left in the tanks as sludge. This sludge removed by electrically driven scrapers to troughs at the inlet end and is then further treated. The remaining liquid flows into aeration tanks. Here it is mixed with a biologically active sludge and aerated using fine bubbles of filtered air from diffusers on the floor of the tanks. Activated sludge is made up of microorganisms, which use the remaining pollutants as a food source while the air bubbles provide the oxygen needed to sustain them. The mixture takes about six hours to flow through these tanks then the clarified effluent flows over weirs at the tank's surface and flows directly into the River Thames. The sludge used to be dumped in the North Sea but now it is dried and burnt in the Sludge Power Generator installed in 1994. Gas produced is used as fuel for gas turbine engines for electricity for use within the process.
Wind turbine.  64 meter high wind turbine that will help generate eight per cent of the energy needed to power the site.
Thermal hydrolysis plant. This is an industrial-scale pressure cooker which will heat sludge to around 160 °C, in order to produce up to 50 per cent more biogas, which is then burnt to create heat to generate renewable energy

Gallions Reach Shopping Centre,
Retail Park. Originally this had 30 shops built in 2004. This is on part of the gas works site

Hornet Way
Gemini Business Centre. This is on part of the gas works site

Northern Outfall Sewer
The Northern Outfall Sewer is a major gravity sewer which runs from Wick Lane in Hackney to Beckton sewage treatment work. Most of it was designed by Joseph Bazalgette in the late 1850s.  The eastern end of the Northern Outfall Sewer, running 4.5 miles from Wick Lane, to Beckton is a public footpath/cycleway called The Greenway.
Lee Tunnel.  Thames Water is building this underground link to prevent storm discharge into the river at Abbey Mills. It will follow the Greenway from West Ham to Beckton, but at considerable depth.


Riverside
Beckton Pier No.1. 19th jetty on cast iron columns for unloading coal, 400 yards, no conveyors, or cranes.  The columns are now all that remain. It was built in 1870, with. Heavy plate girders on cast-iron caissons.  This would have been served by collier vessels from the Durham and Northumberland coal field. It was modernised with hydraulic cranes in 1890.  In the early 1920's it was rebuilt again with modern cranes and conveyors to feed the Beckton internal railway system. There were also facilities for loading for Bromley by Bow and Stratford gas works. This installation was opened in 1926 by King George V
Beckton pier No.2. Built in 1895 this second pier was for coke and pitch,
Managers House. The original managers at Beckton Gas works had a specially built riverside house. It was from here in 1878 that the Trewby family saw the wreck of the Princess Alice and were able do what they could to help rescue and support survivors

Sources
Bird. Geography of the Port of London
Bygone Kent
Carr. Docklands History Survey,
Clunn. The Face of London
Diamond Geezer. Web site
English Heritage. Report on Gasholders
Essex Journal
Everard. History of the Gas Light and Coke Co.
GLIAS. Newsletter
James. Chemistry in Essex
Marcan. London Docklands Guide
Millichip. Gas Works Railways, 
Model Engineer
Nature Conservation in Newham
North Thames Gas. Beckton Centenary
Sergison Bates. Web site
Stewart. Gas Works in the North Thames Area
Thames Basin Archaeology of Industry Group. Report
Thames Water. Web site
The Trams. Web site
Walford. Village London

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