Friday 8 April 2022

Thames Tideway Update

 We have received an update on the Thames Tideway’s latest Community Liaison Working Group:

This week marked the beginning of the end for Thames Tideway’s Greenwich Connection Tunnel – and for the Tunnel Boring Machine Annie.  Annie started from Greenwich Pumping Station - GREPS - on Norman Road last winter, and has just arrived at the destination for the Greenwich Connection Tunnel: Chambers Wharf, just downstream from Tower Bridge.  There is as of this week a new tunnel between Greenwich and Tower Bridge.  How often can you say that!  So the last barge load of chalky tunnel soil is now being shipped out of Deptford Creek ,  and TTT’s GREPS contractor, AVB, will now start dismantling the Phoenix Wharf machinery used to ship out the tunnel spoil.  AVB are very pleased with themselves, both for making the tunnel breakthrough,  and for managing to get much more spoil out by barge,  not lorry, during the tunnelling  (41%,  not the original promise of 25%). They certainly deserve our thanks for this.   

But before the Connection Tunnel can do what it’s designed to do  - guarantee that any storm overflow from the Greenwich / South London sewers no longer gets shoved raw into the Thames,  but instead is safely diverted into the new Thames Tunnel Super Sewer at Tower Bridge – there’s still plenty more heavy work to do here in Greenwich.  First, there’s all the barge loading machinery on Norman Road’s Phoenix Wharf to dismantle and remove.  Next, the whole 3 and a half mile length of the Connection Tunnel will have to be made waterproof by being given a coat of concrete – a sort  of concrete wall paper.  And this will need 6 vast tubes called “Shutters”  to be inserted into the tunnel at the Greenwich end,  to roll up towards Chambers Wharf, applying liquid concrete as they go.  That’s why Norman Road will almost certainly have to stay closed until its planned re-opening date,  22nd September, 2022.

And even then, even after Norman Road is re-opened, there’ll still be plenty of finishing off on the GREPS site, through the rest of 2022,  and all of 2023:  getting the Connection Tunnel fully completed, removing the noise shed by the railway arches, and sorting out the listed pumping buildings on the GREPS site.  Finally,  when all that is done (target date April 2023), AVB’s final actions will see them carrying out Main Site landscaping and reinstatement (target end date February 2024).

Amidst all this,  the CreekLink Heritage Trail group are continuing to work towards creating a series of heritage interpretation panels along the Creek, to tell the story not just of the Bazalgette’s 19th century sewage system,  but also all the other remarkable 19th century industrial achievements Deptford Creek deserves to be famous for. The CreekLink working group is hoping to have its own web site after Easter.  We have just made one application for funds,  focussed on telling the GREPS / Bazalgette story.  Now we can start preparing a more comprehensive funding application, to cover the wider Deptford Creek story.  More information can be obtained from the ATA’s Barbara Reid and Mick Delap.

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