One of Thames Water’s most spectacular structures – hidden under ancient woodland in London – was revealed in all its Victorian glory during maintenance work recently.

High Beech, an underground reservoir in the middle of Epping Forest, was built in 1887 and normally stores 10 million litres of treated water before it is pumped to the taps of 18,000 customers across the region.

At four metres deep and covering an area of 2,800 sq metres, the arched Victorian structure was drained to allow engineers to carry out £100,000 worth of maintenance ahead of the festive period.

Diane Barlow, of Thames Water’s water production operational excellence team, said that “The reservoir was in pretty good condition considering it’s more than 130 years old. The attention to detail and beautiful craftsmanship of the Victorians who built it never ceases to amaze us.”

With the main reservoir out of action, a reserve tank ensured supplies were maintained.


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  1. John Ward says:

    Amazing subsurface reservoir, looks as if inspired by the Cordoba mosque-Cathedral, yet the details display simple elegant brich arch engineering design.

  2. Alan says:

    hi can you give me guide to who and how this was funded please. regards AG

  3. Calum Mercer says:

    a few years ago I visited the Victorian reservoir below Dover Castle when it was drained to check it out for maintenance. It was an amazing sight with the original brick work in great condition. The hooks for the chandeliers used in the gala dinner for the mayor and corporation at its opening were still in place too. the Victorians knew how to build infrastructure to last

  4. Jennifer Burnett says:

    There are so many hidden wonders beneath our city. Wow !! So beautiful.

  5. Rogerthedodger says:

    There a preserved Victorian reservoir at Papplewick. It is open to the public during steaming weekends and well worth visiting along with the pumping station which still has lots more to see including the steam boilers. For more see

  6. Claire says:

    Woohoo! That’s wonderful. Thank you for writing this. Pity we couldn’t visit, but I dare say we’d pollute the site (and I’d prefer my water not to have visitors’ footprints in it).

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