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  • Richard

Thames Tideway, May 2017

Visiting Chamber Wharf (Bermondsey) to see one of the 25km long Thames Tideway tunnel launch sites – this one to be used ‘to drive the main tunnel to Abbey Mills Pumping Station, Stratford and receive the main tunnel from Kirtling Street, to the west. It will also receive the connection tunnel driven from Greenwich Pumping Station, in the east.’ The tunnel/sewer being up to 7.2m diameter and up to 70m deep, therefore well under all the tube lines and other buried services infrastructure in London.

UK GDP per person USD$ 39,720 (

The ‘Five Billion Pound Sewer’ (as the excellent BBC programme titles it)….. USD$6,500,000,000 – sanitation is indeed expensive: a quarter of a million dollars per metre for this sewer!

The ‘Application for Development Consent’ (big project!) with impressive consultation processes also ….

Philip Fletcher, earlier Chair of Ofwat, the economic regulator, explaining how the cost of capital for the Thames Tideway entity was enabled to be kept impressively low, because of government guarantees and access to European funding …..

Wikipedia explains that Thames Water is not responsible for this phase of the project with a ‘special-purpose company’ being established for delivery and operation. ‘Bazalgette Tunnel Limited (BTL) is the licensed 'Infrastructure Provider' set up to finance, build, maintain and operate the Thames Tideway Tunnel.’ And ‘hold its own license from the industry regulator, Ofwat’ .Customer bills were initially expected to increase by $90-$105 per year ‘However, these figures were subsequently revised downwards. In August 2015, the impact was expected to be around £20 to £25 [$20-$33) per year by the mid-2020s’.

Phil Stride, the Strategic Projects Director, explaining the layout of this site.

And more recently, the Blackfriars Bridge Foreshore site, one of the intercepting locations to divert sewer storm-overflows into the new deep Tideway Tunnel.

Interestingly (to me anyway!) if you turn in the other direction at Blackfriars Bridge you can visit a 150 year old public standpost, constructed to ‘confer a boon on all classes, and especially the poor’.

Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountains Association, 1867 (USD$4,560 per person, derived from


“That, where the erection of free drinking fountains, yielding pure cold water, would confer a boon on all classes, and especially the poor, an Association be formed for erecting and promoting the erection of such fountains in the Metropolis, to be styled “The Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain Association”, and that contributions be received for the purposes of the Association. That no fountain be erected or promoted by the Association which shall not be so constructed as to ensure by filters, or other suitable means, the perfect purity and coldness of the water; and that it is desirable the water-rates should be paid by local bodies, the Association only erecting or contributing to the erection, and maintaining the mechanical appliances, of the fountains.”

A public meeting was held on 30th May 1859 at St Martin’s Town Hall, Long Acre, presided over by the founder, at which Mr Wakefield, a member of the Executive Committee, announced that £900 had already been raised. But from the start the Association aimed high and, at the same meeting, it was declared that London needed four hundred fountains and £20,000 a year for their maintenance.


And in a 2018 update The Mayor of London now proudly (25 March 2018) ‘welcomes new public water fountains and invites bids for next 16. “First new fountain installed now in one of London’s busiest shopping areas, Kingly Court off Carnaby Street. Three more set to follow in Liverpool St Station and Flat Iron Square, Southwark. Fund opens for land and site owners to bid for locations of next 16. Up to 20 new fountains to be delivered by Sadiq and partners by the end the year.”

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