There is more to England's sewers than London they say. Well sure, i guess every town has a sewer system of some sort, but are they any good? That's what counts. Today we visited one such system located in the 'fabulous' town of Brighton, that was not only good, but was well on par, if not better then some of what London has to offer.
A Brief history. In the mid 18th century at the request of the towns council, Brighton's sewage and raw waste was discharged directly into the English channel. This continued until 1869 when Brighton's residents pressured the council into building an intercepting sewer to stop the sewage from reaching the sea. Arguments and debate continued until 1870 when the Brighton Intercepting and Outfall Sewers Board was formed, tasked with dealing with the sewage problem.
Work began on the new sewers in January 1871 but was halted five months later when the contractors found they couldn't cope with the amount of water they encountered. In August a new contract was awarded to Messrs John Aird and Son and the sewer was eventually completed in 1874 at the cost of over £100,000. Prompted by heavy rainstorms and flooding various improvements and repairs continued on the system until the construction of a relief sewer in 1929.
Colossus is defiantly what you would call a 'feature' packed drain. Junctions, staircases, intercepting sewers, brick chambers, the list goes on. Both old and new, a mix of Victorian engineering with today's cost efficiency. We spent the first few hours walking the older Victorian section of Colossus, photographing the 8ft brick storm relief's and overflow chambers. Even now after visiting most of London's sewers i still believe Colossus contains some of the best examples of Victorian engineering in England, which is presumably why Southern Water offer tours to the public in the summer. With pictures taken we packed our bags and headed south towards the newer concrete sections.
These days instead of discharging into the sea during storms the relief's now terminate at the most terrifying sewer feature in England, 'Eddies vortex'. A smooth edged, 10ft wide plughole sucking the sewage, and anyone who gets too close 100ft straight down to the concrete storage tunnel beneath. With no ropes or harnesses to hand, a slip here could be fatal. Why its called Eddies Vortex i do not know, it is spray painted on the walls beside it, so i guess its just stuck. We took what pictures we could, carefully side stepping around the walls to get in shot before returning to the moderate safety of the brick tunnels above.
With our subterranean adventure almost complete we ventured deeper into the darker, unseen depths of Brighton's underworld. But that, is a tale for another time.