Patrick Pollak

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DRIVER, C[harles]. H[enry].
Thames Embankment.

A fine watercolour on paper of the proposed designs for the Thames Embankment - measuring 36 x 21 cms. approx. This picture has at one time either been mounted in an album or on board, judging from the edge glue mark. It has a very small nick at the lower edge towards the right corner visible in the attached image, but apart from that it is in excellent condition.

*CHARLES HENRY DRIVER (1832-1900), eminent architect of the Victorian Gothic era. He was a pioneer in the use of ornamental iron work and an authority on its casting and manufacture. His work in this field is strikingly seen in the Thames pumping stations at Crossness and Abbey Mill. In these two projects and with his work on the monuments and jetties of the Thames Embankment he collaborated with Sir Joseph Bazalgette. The above painting of the latter work is signed and dated 1863, the year before completion of the work in 1864. He painted in both oils and watercolour. **The Southern Outfall Works, as the Crossness complex was originally called, was officially opened on 4 April 1865, by Edward, Prince of Wales, attended by Prince Alfred, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of York and the Lord Mayor of London, and many other persons of rank. Following an address by Joseph Bazalgette, the Royal party toured the works and reservoirs, and the Prince then turned the wheel which started the engines. At Crossness, the incoming liquid was raised some 30 to 40 feet (912 m) by the application of four large steam driven pumps. The engines were of enormous size and power, built by James Watt & Co. to Joseph Bazalgette's designs and specification, and were named "Victoria", "Prince Consort", "Albert Edward" and "Alexandra". At 11 revolutions per minute, 6 tons (approximately 1,500 imp gal or 6,800 l) of sewage per stroke per engine were pumped up into a 27-million-imperial-gallon (120,000 m3) reservoir, and was released into the Thames during the ebbing tide. The steam required to power these engines was raised by 12 Cornish boilers with single "straight-through" flues situated in the Boiler House to the south of the Engine House, and which consumed 5,000 tons of Welsh coal annually. The Crossness Works merely disposed of raw sewage into the river seawards, and in 1882, a Royal Commission recommended that the solid matter in the sewage should be separated out, and that only the liquid portion remaining should be allowed, as a temporary measure, to pass into the river. In 1891, sedimentation tanks were added to the works, and the sludge was carried by steam boats and dumped further out into the estuary, at sea. During the 1880s, chemical engineer William Webster developed a system for the electrolytic purification of sewage (patent application filed on 22 December 1887; US patent awarded on 19 February 1889), trialled in 1888 at the Southern Outfall works which had been built by his father's firm over 20 years earlier. By 1897, additional pumping capacity was needed, and four extra pumps operated by triple-expansion steam engines were installed in an extension, designed to fit in with Bazalgette's main engine house, to the north of the older building. Later, in 1899, a further increase in London's population necessitated an increase in the efficiency of the original Watt engines, and considerable alteration to their design was carried out by Goodfellow and Co of Hyde, Manchester, for London County Council. They were converted from simple to compound engines with the original single cylinders were augmented by high and intermediate pressure cylinders. The additional steam required was provided by replacing the earlier Cornish boilers by more efficient Lancashire boilers with double flues and in 1901 the improved engines were fully working. In 1913, the triple expansion steam engines were replaced by diesel engines, which are still to be seen in the triple expansion engine house, and by 1956, the Watt-Goodfellow engines had been decommissioned, (Prince Consort having been temporarily put back in steam in 1953 to assist with draining the flooding of the eastern Royal Arsenal and Abbey Wood) and were left, with the rest of Charles Driver's ironwork, to rust and to vandals. This station is now a Grade 1 Listed Building and open to view - it is a marvel of Victorian engineering. The station contains the four original pumping engines, which are thought to be the largest remaining rotative beam engines in the world, with 52-ton flywheels and 47-ton beams. Although the engines are original, they are not in their original 1864 configuration, as all four were converted from single-cylinder to triple-expansion operation in 1901 and 1902. Prince Consort was returned to steam in 2003 and now runs on Trust Open Days. The other engines are not in working order, although work has begun on the restoration of Victoria. The original boilers did not survive and Prince Consort is now steamed by a small 'off the shelf' boiler. This boiler has nowhere near the steam capacity of the originals, but this is not a problem as the engine no longer operates under load.

Date Published: 1863.

Stock No. 63301

Price: 3,500.00