London’s Fleet sewer or in the footsteps of Sir Joseph Bazalgette
Among the bags left in the middle of the pavement I find one that bears my name. There are quite a few things inside that I need to wear; white overalls, a helmet with a torch, thick gloves, harness and impressive long boots. I also get thin rubber gloves to wear under my thick gloves so that I can take photos with my little camera. 5 minutes later we take a few group shots and we are ready to go down London’s Fleet sewer. The whole thing feels very much surreal.
As I walk some 3 meters down the narrow metal ladder and then stand in what feels and smells like a very small and damp cellar, it becomes perfectly clear why it is not an adventure that can be offered to the public. I can only imagine what it would feel like to someone who suffers from claustrophobia for instance… In fact, there is quite a long list of medical conditions I’m happy I don’t have. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.
There is barely enough space for 5 or 6 of us standing here around a fascinating looking machinery. This machinery turns out to be penstock winding mechanism that is used to open and close a gate in order to control the flow of sewage. It is Victorian and there are only about dozen of them in the whole sewage system in London.