Fancy a Stink Pipe Walk? Wee-wee Mon Sewer

Social interaction has been at a premium for much of this year, so a chance to join a small group walking round the backstreets of Plumstead finding stink pipes was a welcome distraction. John led the walk and began by giving a little background information. Joseph Bazalgette and Sir Goldsworthy Gurney were commissioned to design a sewer system and devise a way to vent the waste gases. You can find out more about the subject here.

In spite of their size and ubiquity around London, they are often overlooked. Most are rather neglected with peeling paint in drab colours – khaki and washed out air force blue for instance. However, there are sometimes little decorative elements. If they were painted to bring out the detail they would add a welcome touch of colour to the urban landscape. Stink pipes are located along the sewers aligned with each other. More than one can be found in some streets. Later pipes tend to be less ornate and are made of steel instead of cast iron. A few are rusting into oblivion.

Our walk nominally covered 10 pipes, but they are so easy to miss, especially on tree lined roads that a couple of ‘extra’ ones were found on the way. At one site, a later replacement stood a couple of yards away from the Victorian original, which had been truncated to a base (see header pic). There were a few other interesting sights like a bell on the side of The Church of the Ascension and a fine King George oval pillar box with a decommissioned stamp machine on the side. We briefly crossed the boundary with Bexley Borough by the horse field – it was sunnier on that side of the road! We also looked around one of the local cemeteries and admired a Cedar tree replete with splendid cones.

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