GES078 - Kings Scholar's Pond CSO
As a trio group, although this often ended up being a duo in practice, we were keen to see the main rivers from top to bottom. We'd been working on the various bits of the Ranelagh CSO, when we got wind of a drain party being held in the Serpentine overflow chamber. Subsequently a number of the drainers went down the KSP (Kings Scholar's Pond) CSO underneath Buck Palace. It was reported that there was a pir down there. Pirs are not usually found in pipes of thundering poop. A quick word to the Aussie drain supremo in London, and we ditched our current plans, and descended into the chamber where the KSP meets the branch of the Ranelagh Storm Relief (more details here) . Walking downstream from that chamber, we eventually came to an interceptor which took away the flow. Deep into the belly of London. If I were of the Christian faith, I would imagine the place known as hell would be somewhere off down the pipe on the left. Only a bit hotter.
As always, after the interceptor, the flow dries up. Waiting for local sewers to build up the flow again.
GE077 and crouching GE007 go about their craft.
It's difficult to be entirely sure, but based on the map and an official sewer map we had, we reckon this point is probably below Buck Palace. Due to reasons of national security, I can neither deny or confirm as to whether the effluent coming out of the local sewer pipe behind GE007 contained blue poop. I can confirm that the toilet paper was gold leaf.
As we headed into Victoria the pipe developed a concrete channel and gained a bit of height.
Unfortunately it ended with a steel pipe and a metal flap. We felt that was enough for one evening, and promptly exited from a lid just behind us.
The lid popped out near some theatre, that was luckily not active at that point. And we quickly scampered off under some pillars and changed next to a pub. The pub as we were to realise was of the 'Men who like Men' variety, and we were wearing waders. I was wearing the full chest height condom variety, and to say I was a bit worried might be an understatement.
As is usual when meeting a steel flap, we found the nearest downstream lid,and worked our way back. GE077 and GE007 were on board again, and were light painting away at the top of the tunnel by the flap.
I left an exposure going as they walked towards me from the flap, the thing I like most about photography is the experimenting. Admittedly most of it turns out rubbish, but hey ho.
The shallow base to the tunnel here, and ahead support for something above the drain.
Remnants of an old bridge incorporated into the sewer chamber. Girders adding support for something else, maybe a rail line going across or something.
Freedom and 'fresh' air, a side exit to the surface.
From the shallow base above, the chamber opened out into a vast wide chamber, Far wider than high. The bizarre thing was to have such a wide chamber, but a tiny channel 1/3 of a metre deep in the middle of it. Two side pipes enter their contents into the main chamber. Strange little fluff clouds dot the sides.
Side pipe from previous picture, and looking upstream mostly. You can see the mish mash of brickwork along the main chamber. A lot of these CSO tunnels/pipes were constructed from a variety of different shorter tunnels.
What was likely to have been a bridge, incorporated into the KSP CSO now.
Further down, and usual pucka lighting from GE077. The small channel has lost it's height, the channel deepens slightly.
Walking off down the tunnel, I turned and captured more of GE077's lighting.
The man at work. Backpack cords sucking up the fresh goodness. You can't say GE077 doesn't suffer for his art.
As Jim Morrison sang, This is the End, beautiful friend, The End. However he wasn't singing about the KSP CSO, but we had indeed reached the end of the KSP. The other side of the murky grey flap is the Thames. Our feet covered in silty Thames gloop, as we decided that this was plenty far enough thanks.
The reinforced concrete pipe that leads down to the mouth of the KSP CSO. The silty gloop lit up by GE077's light work on an impressive cobweb further up the pipe.
I quite like this one, a variation on the shot above.
As we walked closer to GE077, it was hard to resist getting another shot in, as the light in the pipe was incredible.
The reinforced RCP leads off from the end of the large wide chamber we'd been walking down. The light source is in the RCP with the pic below.
Looking upstream from a flat dry area that leads to the RCP and Thames. The channel that ran down the middle of the chamber is sucked off to the side and down towards an interceptor.
Looking downstream with the channel off to the interceptor, and the flat dry area leading to the RCP where the light source is.
Manhole access chamber, as the KSP CSO diverts into the low level interceptor. Down the forbidding looking pipe in the centre of the picture.
The flat dry area looked like a good place to just get down and party, so we all imagined our favourite dancey track (mine was Bee Gees - Staying Alive) I've no idea what the hell kind of music GE007 normally dances too. Disturbing.
GE077 was carrying out some top secret work for the government, his government. So couldn't join us. So it was left to GE007 and I to go in search of waterfalls to rival the mighty Iguazu. Yet again, we started in the large chamber where the R Storm relief joins the KSP, and this time headed upstream. We soon came to this odd mouldy gloop splattered across the ceiling.
Elaborate brickwork to incorporate the flow from a local sewer pipe.
Rusty steps up to a manhole on the surface.
Rusty steps, or would sir prefer to walk up the nice set of stairs?
We found a side pipe that was walkable, and followed it for a fair way. When we didn't find any lids and couldn't get a GPS reference on our phones. We decided to come back. I later looked at a map,and we were probably only 50m away from joining the R St sewer.
Another side pipe hid this little chamber from the main pipe.
Two different styles of pipe enter the main KSP tunnel. I thought about investigating the one on the left, but it was proper manky looking and stank worse than John Prescott's armpit after a few beers.
Something i hadn't seen before, the main tunnel of the KSP disappeared down a set of steps. Obviously the flow wouldn't go up the steps, so we guessed there must be an interceptor about somewhere. Down the steps lead to a muddy passage which led to a mini Iguazu Falls, with water coming and going all over the place.
The muddy section of tunnel is past the wooden beam and into the distance in this shot. The water disappears off to the left and down into the interceptor below.
Just passed the interceptor junction, and on the same side, was a set of steps up to another pipe with the water running down the stairs. More Flashgun usage in effect.
At the end of this 10m or so stretch, was the main KSP coming down a wide set of stairs, similar to the ones we'd descended into the muddy chamber. Utility cables fixed to the walls. I was able to climb the stairs without much fuss, as i was wearing chest waders. GE007 had to wait around only having waist waders, with a delicate hole in! The noise was almost deafening in this area.
Looking down the steps into the interceptor section. Behind the camera a few metres up was another side exit that dumped some of the flow down a vertical shaft into the interceptor below us.
As GE007 couldn't go any further, and it was starting to get late. We backed up and found a lid to exit. I always feel out of place anyway when I wander around areas as wealthy as Mayfair, but wearing fresh stained waders makes one just a bit more out of place.
GE077 wasn't about again, so the final stretch of the KSP CSO (that we didn't have to crawl through) would be a GE007 and Me trip. The lid I had in mind had a problem, it was right next to a well known department store on busy Oxford St. A street lined with actively monitored cameras. After giving it 0.3 nanoseconds of thought, we went looking for another lid.
A side exit with a difference. At the bottom of the stairs on the right, a hole in the wall leads out to the KSP. But a pipe leads off to the top left of the camera. This area was rather misty, just to state the bleedin' obvious. We wanted to complete the KSP, so we didn't hang around to explore side pipes that we usually did.
Somewhere in the region of Marylebone, we came to this iron-backed section of tunnel.
Further on past the iron-backed section we came to a distinct change in the KSP CSO, as much as when we'd passed the steel flap into the huge wide chamber near the KSP's end. The pipe now became egg shaped as we pushed on Northwards in the direction of Hampstead heath.
Looking downstream to the end of the egg shaped section.
Another side pipe we didn't explore, looking down into the KSP main tunnel.
After the long egg shaped section, with no real side exits and us wondering if maybe we should turn back. We came into this section. It had to round metal pipes that went for about 15-20m or so. Both crouchers. I went first to see what was up the other end, and after a quick wander about found a side exit. I returned, crawled back through the tunnel to get my bag and update GE007. And then went back through for a third time. I was very glad to not have to go a fourth time!
The other side of the metal crawl pipes, and we were faced with these options. After repeatedly trying the tunnel in the middle, we gave up and tried the one on the right.
Not long after and we arrived at manhole entrance from the road a long way above.
Looking downstream with the crawler KSP behind the camera. The pipe on the right goes down some long stairs into the interceptor, the one on the left goes down the KSP route to the Thames.
GE007 lights up the section of the KSP after the interceptor heading downstream. The picture above is behind the camera.
Oblivion! The hugely long staircase down to the interceptor. Definitely one I didn't fancy descending.
And with that, a very tired GE007 and I climbed some stairs up to a lid, and popped out a long long way from where we'd started. Amusingly it was near a church we'd met at before to do a tube station explore, GES061. Thanks to GE007 for going the distance. I then faced a long walk back to Oxford St lugging a pair of chest waders. But it was worth it!
This map shows the course and interaction of the KSP with other sewers and drains under London. The brown lines appropriately enough are interceptors. (A) is the last part of the KSP one can walk upright in, and is where the stairway into the abyss in the last pic above sits. (B) is where the metal ribbed bridge sits, and shortly after where the KSP takes on egg shaped form. (C) is stair city, where the KSP descends stairs along with other local drains, to join the interceptor. (D) is the large chamber where the R@nelagh St0rm relief starts. (E) is where the KSP opens up into a huge chamber down to the interceptor. (F) is where the KSP becomes a RCP (Round Concrete Pipe) down to the outfall with the Thames.