Into the Belly of the Beast: Exploring London's Victorian Sewer Cover

My photograph of the cast iron interior of Abbey Mills Pumping Station Interior was chosen for the cover of recently published book “Into the Belly of the Beast: Exploring London’s Victorian Sewers” by Dr Paul Dobraszczyk published by Spire books.

Into the belly of the beast is a rare pleasure within books on subterranean London and Victorian architecture in that is combines real academic meat, in an easily readable manner, with extensive and sumptuous illustrations. Thus the book can be equally enjoyed as a visual feast or read as a continuous narrative. Paul Dobraszczyk shows us the unexpected fact that the methods of describing and drawing these vast underground spaces at the time of their inception were not the disinterested studies we might expect, but hint at wider aspirations of the Victorian age which he further illuminates in his description of their most noticeable architectural expression, the great pumping stations. An essential addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in London or Victorian architecture and engineering.

The cover photograph shows Interior of the old Abbey Mills Pumping Station (Station A) showing wrought iron metalwork and modern vertical motors that replaced the original steam beam engine.Located in Abbey Lane, London E15, the building is a sewerage pumping station, designed by engineer Joseph Bazalgette, Edmund Cooper, and architect Charles Driver, it was built between 1865 and 1868 after an outbreak of cholera in 1853 and “The Great Stink” of 1858. It was designed in a cruciform plan, with an elaborate Byzantine style, described as The Cathedral of Sewage. The pumps raise the sewage in the London sewerage system between the two Low Level Sewers and the Northern Outfall Sewer, which was built in the 1860s to carry the increasing amount of sewage produced in London away from the centre of the city.

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Buy “Into the Belly of the Beast: Exploring London’s Victorian Sewers” from Amazon UK here

Architecture and Interiors Photography © Quintin Lake, 2010