The magnificent Victorian pumping station at Crossness that had to close suddenly earlier this year has secured its future after raising nearly £500,000.

The Crossness Pumping Station found asbestos in the main Beam Engine House during restoration works, and had to close to the public, with restricted access for everyone else.

It was likely that it would remain closed for a long time as they needed £400,000 to remove the asbestos safely.

Asbestos is generally safe if left untouched, but during building work, disturbing it requires specialized work which can be quite expensive to remove it safely.

Thames Water was the first to come to the buildings rescue, when they stepped forward with £250,000 in the early autumn. Despite fundraising efforts, the Crossness Trustees had not been able to raise all of the remaining money needed to complete the works.

Cory Riverside Energy has now come to the rescue too, after Bexley Council asked for its help, and it agreed to provide £130,000 for the removal works.

In total, the Trust raised £478,000 to fund the works.

Pippa Catterall the Chair of the Crossness Pumping Station Trust said; “The discovery of asbestos has been a real challenge for us, coming at a time when the Trust was completing a major project and looking forward to a successful future. 2019 is a very significant year for Crossness Pumping Station – marking the 200th anniversary of Joseph Bazalgette’s birth. Now that the building has been saved, celebrations are being planned – the financial support from Thames Water and Cory and the continued support and guidance of Historic England, has provided a very generous early birthday present!”

Crossness Engines Pumping Station was opened in 1865 as part of Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s sewer network.

Crossness is now designated a Grade 1 Listed building, featuring spectacular ornamental Victorian cast ironwork. It houses a historical exhibition space and four original pumping engines, thought to be the largest rotative beam engines in the world. One of the engines is fully operational during set ‘steaming’ times during the year.

The asbestos removal process is already underway, and now that the remaining budget has been secured, the works can be completed.

The aim is to reopen by March 2019 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, with Prince Consort in steam.

Photos by the Crossness Pumping Station Trust


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  1. Andrew says:

    Rarely comment but always read. You are English. You should spell the word as specialise. You are letting an American spell checker overtake you.

    • R. Brite says:

      The very English Oxford dictionaries have for some years given the -iz spellings as preferred, with -is as variants. Many British publications use -iz.

    • Abe says:

      Indeed. The ‘-ize’ form is the original English spelling. Spelling such words with ‘-ise’ was adopted in the 1700s when it became fashionable in England to spell the French way (e.g., ‘centre’). This wasn’t the case in America, which therefore retained the ‘-ize’ spellings. The regrettable persistence of the ‘-ise’ forms in the UK have been pushed by spell-check software (ironically, usually from the US) that uses this spelling in their UK dictionary files.

  2. Dave says:

    Is the asbestos used for heat/fire restraint, why does the asbestos need to be removed and after it has been removed what replaces it?

    • Ade Jones says:

      Asbestos will be used to lag pipes and boilers, and also in composite panels if there are any there. It is used for insulation and fire protection purposes in the main.

      If undamaged, the best option is to seal it and leave it in situ. However, when damaged, it is very friable, and to remove the risk of fibre release it may be better to remove it. Removing it from such settings can be quite involved.

      Where it needs to be replaced as an insulation material, there are modern non-hazardous mineral based substitutes that can be used.

  3. Philip Jones says:

    Fantastic news! Visited Abbey Mills a few weeks ago so will now hopefully be able to visit Crossness at some point in 2019. Apparently it’s even more spectacular than Abbey Mills.

  4. MikeP says:

    I’d missed that this had happened. Visited some years ago, and it is truly spectacular.

    So good to hear funds for the works have been secured.

  5. Julia Hanson says:

    Thanks for this news – and indeed for your whole website. Even London friends who are great culture visitors are amazed by facts you pass on and sometimes you are the only obvious publicity source in this strangely niche information world e.g.the excellent SOAS Sikh exhibition.
    Looking forward to Crossness.

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