Thursday, 13 October 2011

Listed Buildings and Lambeth Tunnel at Seething Wells


Identification of subterranean features: featuring the Lambeth Tunnel
Listed buildings, structures and tunnels.
All the significant buildings at Seething Wells are ‘listed’: the Nuffield Pumping Station; and Chelsea and Lambeth coal stores;  the attached tunnels and conduits; and perhaps even the suction wells are listed by default, no matter what their architectural merit. Steps were taken to remediate ‘listing oversights’ and applications were made to English Heritage (March, 2002). This included the Lambeth uncovered coalstore, associated tunnel beneath the Portsmouth Road and its demolished portal. This was granted August, 2002. Once the ‘water was tested’, applications were made (Jan, 2003) for inclusion in the statutory list apropos: Lambeth District offices and stores building (which sits atop the Lambeth Tunnel); the Lambeth Muniments Building and the small pumping station on the wharf.
Grade 11 listing was granted in October 2003 having been judged to be buildings of special historic interest. This did not include the small pumping station on the wharf as it …had been disfigured by the insertion of twentieth century doorways and too much inappropriate refurbishment had been carried out [sic]. It lacked the ‘group value’ afforded by buildings south eastern side of the Portsmouth Road although it remains a Building of Townscape merit. (BTM).
Lambeth Tunnel
The two coal tunnels either side of the conduit are therefore protected by their attachment to listed buildings. This was ruled on by the Inspector at the Sainsbury’s Public Inquiry although was too late for the Lambeth Tunnel Portal, partially demolished during the period between the Sainsbury’s Inquiry and 2000. This is located a few metres from the borough boundary, under an ever-growing cotoneaster bush, just outside the inner fencing. Contract drawings at Thames Waters HQ in Reading reveal limited detail on the subterranean features so perhaps one of the best journeys along the tunnel can be seen:


Lambeth Tunnel Portal marked by the cotoneaster bush

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