Our mission is to find, map, photograph and catalogue every stinkpipe in the Greater London area, though out of London is welcome too. Please send your stinkpipe pics here or to stinkpipes@gmail.com Twitter: @stinkpipes Holder of 6Music's Geek of the Week accolade, 1st October 2011

Saturday, 25 February 2012

February Round-Up part 1

My first pick of the month is from the "Faded London" blog and was posted back in 2008. 
He takes a rather controversial view of the function of stinkpipes, without any evidence as far as I can tell, so as I have no evidence to the contrary, only hearsay, you make your own minds up.
to be honest I've a feeling it's a bit of a misnomer. After all could it really be possible that the manufacturers of London's sewage system would build in, at regular intervals, outlet pipes to waft the sickly -sweet hints of sewage across the neighbourhood? I doubt it. Actually, I believe that they were installed almost as 'safety valves' to prevent any dangerous increase in air pressure in sections of the tunnel. 
that said, I do have my own take on this. Firstly, the Victorians did not have modern standards of hygiene and had no environmental legislation to prevent smells and other nuisances. Even with nasty odours spewing out of these pipes, it would have been a big step forward from the old open sewers which had existed in living memory. Even in Dickens' times cities were very smelly places. Phil Stride, the head of London Tideway Tunnels, Thames Water, talks specifically about "odour control equipment" or lack of, in this article too.
Secondly, if there weren't noxious odours coming out of the pipes, why were they built so high. If they only spewed clean air then they could just have left holes in the ground with grating, like backward drains. No - think Faded London is quite quite wrong there...

This picture accompanied the post:

source: Faded London Blog

Stinkpipes were identified in Merton Road, and Southey Road, in Wimbledon, Lambton Road, Raynes Park, Vicarage Road, Hampton Wick and Garrat Lane, Wandsworth. 

Describing the slightly unusual pipe seen in Southey Road, Faded London goes on to say:
this unit was adapted to take an early electric light. Now very much defunct, I believe this design would date back to the early years of the last century, with the small pices of mirror reflecting the light back on the assers-by(sic) below
I like the idea that such a thing as "assers-by" exist in the leafy suburbs of Wimbeldon.