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Full steam ahead for £1.5 million

PUBLISHED: 14:20 20 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:42 25 August 2010

Bexley
12-11-08
Crossness Pumping station
Lottery money allocated for restoration
Dennis Stanfield

Bexley 12-11-08 Crossness Pumping station Lottery money allocated for restoration Dennis Stanfield

A VICTORIAN pumping station is to receive a £4 million restoration after 10 years of fund raising.

A VICTORIAN pumping station is to receive a £4 million restoration after 10 years of fund raising.

The Crossness Engines Trust received a £1.5 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) last Wednesday, completing the funds needed to restore the Abbey Wood building.

The last donation will allow a two-year programme to start next Spring, which will add a café and visitor centre to the Grade I listed building.

Peter Bazalgette, president of the Trust, said: "This is a great achievement that will make possible new community ventures that will allow this monument to Victorian engineering to take on a new lease of life."

The Trust has been raising money for the project for the last decade, and have secured money from English Heritage, the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The HLF donation towards the project was timed to commemorate 150 years since the "Big Stink".

In 1858 all sewerage was channelled directly into the Thames, leading Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli to call it "a Stygian pool reeking with ineffable and unbearable horror."

The Palace of Westminster was almost evacuated due to the stench whilst cholera and typhoid were rife.

The problem was solved by Mr Bazalgette's great-great-grandfather, chief engineer of the Metropolis, Sir Joseph Bazalgette.

Sir Joseph designed an 85 mile sewer system to take waste towards two sites including Crossness, in order to send it out towards the Thames Estuary.

The project took 1,000 workers eight years to finish.

Now the Crossness site is now looked after by 150 members of the Crossness Engine Trust, including 50 active volunteers made up of engineers, mechanics, electricians and artists.

Mr Bazelegette added: "The thing is that it's the members who are in the 40s and 50s who belong to the generation when steam was actually used.

"It is going to be ever more important to bring up a new generation to learn about steam, and I hope that we will be able to help substantially with that in the future."

The Crossness site has four steam engines, but the Prince Consort is the only remaining one acti ve.

The Crossness restoration programme is due to be completed before the end of 2010.

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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