Dates for the diary 2: Crossness Public Steaming Days

Decorative Ironwork in the Octagon at the Crossness Pumping Station
Decorative Ironwork in the Octagon at the Crossness Pumping Station

The Crossness Engines Trust have published their programme for 2012 – the Crossness Pumping Station public steaming days. There were long queues when I visited last year on one of the London Open House days, but it was well worth waiting to see this amazing example of Victorian public engineering, which has been described as “a Victorian cathedral of ironwork” by Nikolaus Pevsner. The combination of massive mechanical engineering and detailed decorative ironwork  in a romanesque style building fully justifies Pevsner’s description.

The Pumping Station is the final link in Joseph Bazalgette‘s sewerage system for London, developed in reaction to  1858’s Great Stink (and epidemic Cholera). Bazalgette’s massive intercepting sewers fed the effluent by gravity down towards two pumping stations nearer the mouth of the Thames, at Crossness and Abbey Mills. The job of the Crossness pumping stations was to raise the incoming liquid by 30-40 feet into a sewage reservoir containing 27 million gallons of raw sewage which was discharged into the Thames at high tide to flow out to sea with the tide. This required 4 huge pumping engines – believed to be the largest rotative beam engines in the world, with 52 ton flywheels. As part of their restoration work, the  Crossness Engines Trust have one of the engines, named the Prince Consort, running as shown in the brief video sequence below:

Work on preserving and restoring the Pumping Station started in 1985 – it’s a huge task, and is staffed entirely by volunteers. Their achievements are already very impressive, and they have an ambitious vision for the future – restoration of the buildings and engines to their 1899 condition.

The Crossness Engines Trust web site gives the dates when they will be open this year:

The dates currently agreed are as follows:

Sunday April 22nd – Local History Fair ( please note that entry to the Fair only is free)
Sunday June 24th – Model Engineering
Sunday July 29th – Transport
Tuesday August 14th – Local History
Sunday September 2nd – General
Sunday September 23rd – Open House London (Free entry)
Sunday October 21st – Local History
Admission will be from 10.30am until 4.00pm and the admission charge will be £5.00 except for Open House London which is free. No booking is required. People under 16: free. It is recommended that visitors wear flat shoes.

Please note that the Trust can only accept payment in cash or by cheque.
A Mini-bus service will operate from Abbey Wood BR station to the Crossness site at approximately 30 minute intervals. The first bus will leave Abbey Wood station at 10.15am and the last bus will depart from the Crossness site at 5.00pm

It’s well worth adding one of these dates to your diary.

Detail of ironwork at Crossness Pumping Station
Detail of ironwork at Crossness Pumping Station

There are more photographs on Flickr.

Dates for the diary 1: Falconwood Miniature Railway Public Running 2012

Despite being under threat of eviction, the Welling and District Model Engineering Society have announced their public running dates for 2012:

Welling and District Model Engingeering Society

Public Running Dates 2012
We look forward to welcoming you back in 2012 for another summer of nostalgia, riding behind our steam and electric locomotives. The dates and timings have now been confirmed.
The railway and clubhouse will be open from 2:30-5:00pm. Train rides will be available for children and adults(!), with the last ticket issued at 4:30pm. Refreshments are available in the clubhouse.
Sunday April 22nd
Sunday May 6th 20th
Sunday June 3rd 17th
Sunday July 1st 15th 29th
Sunday August 12th 26th
Sunday September 9th 23rd
Sunday October 7th (last running)

The WDMES still haven’t been given a firm date for when they need to vacate the site behind the electricity substation on Rochester Way, so they have planned a full year’s events for 2012.

The Falconwood Miniature Railway is very popular with readers of this site.  The railway, in its various wordings,  is one of the most frequent searches that brings visitors here, attracted no doubt by my predecessor’s sound recording and video of the miniature railway in action. I’ll certainly be visiting one of their public runnings this year, and I’ve added the dates to the site calendar.

Welling and District Model Engineering Society – A Film

Last year I uploaded a sound recording of the model railway at falconwood, well now here’s a video to go with it. It was filmed whilst holding on to the driver with one hand and the camera with the other, which looking back on it was probably a bit reckless and could have ended up with me falling into the suspension bridge, but in a way it was worth a bit of a risk. I especially like the bit where we go through the tunnel and you can see the steam on the lens, plus all the friendly bystanders of course.

Spitfire steam train coming through falconwood station

Judging by the relatively large amount of visitors this website receives via its post on the falconwood model railway[1. Welling and district model engineering society], it seems that there is much enthusiasm for steam trains in these parts, and so it gives great pleasure to announce[2. Thanks to 853, ianvisits, and event sponsors sheperd-neame, the journey itself is being run as part of a two day hop festival in faversham this weekend.] that this train will most likely be passing through falconwood on it’s way to kent having left london bridge at 0955 on sunday september the 5th and due to arrive at faversham at 1145. The train is expected back at london bridge at 2000, but it’s coming back a different way.

I say most likely going through falconwood station as the journey is advertised as passing bexleyheath, which is on the same tfl line as our station, whether or or not the same goes for special services I’m not sure. As a provisional guestimate, and pending the actual departure times, I would reckon that the train might come through the falconwood at around 1015-1100.


London, Midland & Scottish Railway "Black Five" No. 44932 (this is not at falconwood by the way)

Welling and District Model Engineering Society

Welling and District Model Engingeering Society
Welling and District Model Engingeering Society

Well, that’s it for another year of local steam train fun. Sunday was the last public running day on the Falconwood Toy Trains, and it was busier than I’ve ever seen it before – which is understandable considering that Electricité De France, the landowners, might need the land back. Unfortunately a suitable new home has not been arranged as yet, and I get the feeling it’s going to be hard finding somewhere as neatly secluded as the grounds of an electrical substation. The thought of moving must be quite a daunting one, as the track itself is twelve hundred feet long (that’s 386 metres to edf), and that’s before they begin to think about what to do with all the other accumulated steam travel paraphenalia and structures they’ve been adding to the circuit over the last x years, such as the glorious little humpback bridge that takes you over the railway as you enter the enclosure.

In my continuing efforts to present a multi-sensory hill experience I have added a recording of a ride around the track to accompany the photo, and short of coming round to your house and starting a coal fire in front of your armchair and spraying you with steam, I think it goes some way towards reflecting the moment, I deliberately didn’t use video, as sound leaves a bit more to the imagination.

Welling and District Model Engineering Society