26 August 2016 | 21 °C

News | By: Lindsey

1,740 Tons Of Sludge: The New River Tunnel Inspection

1,740 Tons Of Sludge: The New River Tunnel Inspection
Looking towards the tunnel, Summer 2012
Looking towards the tunnel, Summer 2012
The river was dammed and long pipes inserted to suck 150 years of mud and sludge into huge tanker-lorries while men with waders and shovels do the hard and mucky work. The sludge will eventually be turned into fertiliser.
The river was dammed and long pipes inserted to suck 150 years of mud and sludge into huge tanker-lorries while men with waders and shovels do the hard and mucky work. The sludge will eventually be turned into fertiliser.
A boat and a barrel stuck in the mud
A boat and a barrel stuck in the mud
A pike saved from the tunnel -- the workmen saved thousands of individual fish, including bream, perch and bucketsful of crawfish
A pike saved from the tunnel -- the workmen saved thousands of individual fish, including bream, perch and bucketsful of crawfish
The level of silt at the Myddleton Road end of the tunnel
The level of silt at the Myddleton Road end of the tunnel
A light at the end of the cleaned out tunnel - workmen's headlamps coming this way
A light at the end of the cleaned out tunnel - workmen's headlamps coming this way
Caroline is now the temporary custodian for a little collection of the most interesting bottles which should be displayed as a permanent, history-based artwork somewhere local. Ideas and offers of help please.
Caroline is now the temporary custodian for a little collection of the most interesting bottles which should be displayed as a permanent, history-based artwork somewhere local. Ideas and offers of help please.
Proof of the skill of the Victorian brickies - a perfect join around a pipe
Proof of the skill of the Victorian brickies - a perfect join around a pipe
Because bats roost in the tunnel, machines couldn't be used to clear the sludge. Hence the manpower!
Because bats roost in the tunnel, machines couldn't be used to clear the sludge. Hence the manpower!
The brilliant Barhale team! "There are a number of Lithuanians and Romanians as well as ‘Native Brits’, much in the same way as in the 19th century many of the ‘manual workers’ were Irish, but the Irish don’t like working in tunnels these days! The youngest member of the team is Matthew Wilkinson who has just finished his ‘confined space training’. He ‘commutes’ each week from just north of Cardiff – with his Dad David! They are one of a number of fathers-and-sons on the larger team, and there are also two brothers who are Steve’s ‘top chaps’."
The brilliant Barhale team! "There are a number of Lithuanians and Romanians as well as ‘Native Brits’, much in the same way as in the 19th century many of the ‘manual workers’ were Irish, but the Irish don’t like working in tunnels these days! The youngest member of the team is Matthew Wilkinson who has just finished his ‘confined space training’. He ‘commutes’ each week from just north of Cardiff – with his Dad David! They are one of a number of fathers-and-sons on the larger team, and there are also two brothers who are Steve’s ‘top chaps’."
The path remains closed for a few more weeks while Thames Water undertake urgent bank repairs - without water in the canal, some banks collapsed.
The path remains closed for a few more weeks while Thames Water undertake urgent bank repairs - without water in the canal, some banks collapsed.

The New River Tunnel in Wood Green was built in the 1850s to shorten the route of Hugh Myddleton's original (1613), very loopy route and speed up the "flowing reservoir" bringing fresh water from Hertfordshire to the city. The 1km long, Grade II listed tunnel between Myddleton Road and Alexandra Palace is a fine example of Victorian brickwork and engineering.

The tunnel used to be inspected regularly by hard hatted folk aboard a flat bottomed boat, but since health and safety concerns vetoed access on the water, it was decided to drain the tunnel this autumn and give it a proper clean out for the first time since it was finished in 1858.

Bowes Park Community Association trustee, Caroline Simpson, got some fascinating insights into the process and some great photos from the crew sent to do the very dirty job — it probably helped that she encouraged local people to take cakes and buns down to them!

But what exactly was brought out of the tunnel? Caroline reports;

Silt total 1,740 tons. Every ounce and pound shifted by hand. And over the 154 years we also have: the two guns and two rounds of ‘live’ ammo’, lots of knives, five or six safes, lots of handbags and credit cards, two motor-bikes, three bicycles, a skateboard, lots of kids trikes and scooters, some imitation Swedish medallions(!) a 17th century pipe, two small Buddhas, lots of plastic dolls, one antique white ceramic doll’s head, a boat, a big oak barrel and the old metal bridge handrail which must have fallen off many years ago. The largest non-silt collection was bottles of various ages.

Happily, the tunnel's interior was in pretty good nick, only requiring minor repairs and repointing. Those Victorians totally knew what they were doing. As did the terrific Barhale crew who had to clear tons of sludge and rubbish by hand so as not to disturb the roosting bats too much.

Click through the picture gallery for more or read the full story here.

September 2013 sees the 400th anniversary of the opening of the New River.

Last Updated 16 July 2015

Lindsey

Article by Lindsey | 3,291 articles | View Profile

DaNi Shalom

GOood its like criminals use it to move gooods or somethin

www.fullertankers.com

Hello,

The tunnel used to be inspected regularly by hard hatted folk aboard a
flat bottomed boat, but since health and safety concerns vetoed access
on the water, it was decided to drain the tunnel this autumn.

www.fullertankers.com