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IMechE Awards Crossness Engines Hallmark Heritage award.

One of the country’s most famous sewage works, which saved the lives of thousands of Londoners from cholera and typhoid, will be honoured with a special heritage award on Tuesday 20 January between 10am and noon at its Thames Water site in Abbey Wood. The Victorian Crossness Engines (pictured below) once coped with 26 million gallons of raw sewage when it was operational in the 1860s and cost £3 million (£3 billion in current money!)

A team of volunteers working for the Crossness Engines Trust got together back in the 1980s to restore the unsung historic London landmark which would otherwise have fallen into dilapidated ruin. The Trust will be awarded a rare Engineering Heritage Hallmark Award (EHHA) from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) in recognition of the Trust’s outstanding efforts.

Over 90,000 volunteer man hours and a stream of fundraising efforts meant that one of the engines, named Prince Consort, at Crossness is now operational. There are a series of engines there that are named after Queen Victoria’s husband and her children. A gravitational sewage system leading up to a reservoir and into Crossness meant that contaminated sewage streams could be diverted away from London homes and into the Thames – resulting in lives saved from the deadly diseases.

John Ridley, a retired mechanical engineer in his 80s, spearheaded the massive restoration project in the 1980s. He said: “The award is fantastic. This Victorian sewage works is a landmark, and is an amazing part of our heritage. It took a lot of work to restore it but it is part of London’s legacy which people can now enjoy.”

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