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First London embankment for 150 years planned in Sir Joseph Bazelgette's honour

  • First London embankment for 150 years planned in Sir Joseph Bazelgette's honour
    Image: Thames Water

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Thames Water
Every day, we serve 15 million customers across London and the Thames Valley.

London looks set to be gifted its first new open space on the River Thames for 150 years in honour of Victorian engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette.

The announcement of intention to name the land has been made to mark 200 years since the birth of Sir Joseph with the proposed ‘Bazalgette Embankment’ space due to open by 2024.

Across London in Abbey Wood, Sir Joseph’s Grade I listed Crossness pumping station will also reopen to visitors on March 31 following extensive restoration work.

The new embankment is being created in the river near Blackfriars Bridge as part of the ground-breaking work to create London’s super sewer. The shape of the embankment within the City of London is already mapped out in the Thames with steel girders, which will make way for a permanent structure in the coming years.

The engineer is most famous for his work on the sewer network in the 1860s, which transformed the public health of London and remains the system Thames Water rely on today – despite the huge surge in population growth.

Sir Peter Bazlagette, his great-great-grandson, has welcomed the news of the application to name the land. He said: “In my ancestor’s day, he too built iconic new embankments which helped shape our famous capital city. It would be an honour to see his name getting the credit it deserves as his system is expanded to cope with modern-day London.”

This is the first time since the Victoria and Albert Embankments were built in Victorian times that new areas of land on the River Thames have been created, offering additional open space in central London for all to enjoy.

The name of ‘Bazalgette Embankment’ is subject to approval by the City of London, but the land will offer 1.5 acres of accessible space, with new opportunities for cafes and shops, art installations, and a landscaped area for leisure and recreational use.

Tideway, the company constructing the super sewer which will be operated for Thames Water customers as part of its network, is busy building a 25km tunnel under the River Thames that will capture the millions of tonnes of untreated sewage that currently pollutes the river, before being taken away for treatment.

Tideway is creating seven new open spaces for London, which include extensions of Victoria and Albert Embankments, and new areas in Putney, Chelsea and Wapping.

Crossness Pumping Station was first opened in 1865 and features spectacular ornamental cast ironwork. The pumping station will reopen to visitors on Sunday thanks to generous individual supporters plus financial help given by Thames Water and Cory Riverside Energy. In addition, Historic England and the London Borough of Bexley have also given invaluable guidance and support.

Rosemary Waugh, corporate responsibility manager at Thames Water, said: “Crossness pumping station is an important part of Thames Water’s heritage, and the Crossness Engines Trust, along with many of our other partners, do a fantastic job of looking after our historic buildings and telling the story of what we do. We are delighted this much loved and iconic building will reopen so the community can again enjoy its rich and interesting history.”

Emily Gee, Historic England’s regional director for London and the South East, added: “We are delighted that the Grade I listed Crossness Pumping Station is open to the public once again, marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, the Victorian engineering mastermind and public health visionary who designed London’s sewerage system in the mid-19th century. The new underground system helped to save the capital’s inhabitants from further cholera epidemics and other diseases.”

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