On Thursday 7th June 2018, Year 4 welcomed some visitors from the Crossness Pumping Station as part of their topic on the Vile Victorian. The session began with a demonstration of their incredible working recreation of Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s sewageworks solution to the Great Stink of 1858.
The children then joined in the action in two shifts as toilet flushers all across town from Battersea to New Cross, and pump engine operators at Deptford or Crossness Pumping Stations, processing Victorian London’s waste through Bazalgette’s system of pipes and pumps and out into the river Thames at the countryside site, around which Thamesmead would be built some many years later. Further volunteers released the sewage from the Crossness reservoir into the Thames at the high tide mark, whenceforth it was carried out to sea. Using the superbly-constructed model, it was possible to monitor and record the exact volumes of waste as they proceeded efficiently through each stage. We discussed the merits and also some thoughtful disadvantages of Bazalgette’s sewage solution regarding oceanic pollution.
The remainder of the session saw the children as mechanical engineers designing and creating their own model boxes with hand-operated beam engines, resulting in Jack-in-the-Boxes, starfishes and ballerinas. It was certainly memorable day for children.