Sunday 28 February 2010

Down Below

"Hatton Garden is a spot ... that we like to go a lot ... since a bloke in Leather Lane dropped a diamond down a drain ... we've been waiting .... but in vain ... " sings Ian Wallace in his recording of Sydney Carter's Down Below. Ian Wallace? That Ian Wallace? Oh yus. And Sydney Carter's the Sydney Carter that wrote the Lord of the Dance. So Ian Wallace singing Sydney's little ditty about what goes on underground. Anyway, when folks talk about the wonders of Victorian architecture they tend to refer to the grandeur of buildings such as the Royal Albert Hall or St Pancras Station. But one of the great architectural achievements of the Victorian era was, well, down below. The network of sewers built in response to The Great Stink of 1858 was a great success, and among the features of the scheme was pumping stations in key locations such as Abbey Mills on the River Lea and Cross Ness down on the marshes in Erith. One of the key architects of the scheme was Sir Joseph Bazalgette. He was also the man behind the Woolwich Free Ferry, which started in 1889 and runs to this day (though daily traffic bulletins will often inform you there is a reduced service) linking Woolwich on the south east side of the Thames with North Woolwich in east London. Sir Joseph's great-great-grandson is one Peter Bazalgette, the media mogul responsible for popularising Big Brother and other reality TV formats. Ironically the original Big Brother house in east London is a short distance away from Abbey Mills. Sydney Carter isn't the only person to write a song about the sewers beneath London ...

No comments:

Post a Comment