Hydraulic power in London
[Source: Andy Emmerson]
WHAT'S LEFT TO SEE
Typical accumulator tower for storing hydraulic power. This one is close to the Royal Mint where the LTS railway line from Fenchurch Street crosses Mansell Street. The faded lettering on the side of the tower proclaims 'London Midland & Scottish Railway City Goods Station and Bonded Stores'. Photo taken in April 1975.
Can you spot the characteristic accumulator tower in the background? This is Wilson Street warehouse, seen from Finsbury Avenue. Photo taken in April 1976.
Over the years GLIAS, the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society, has done a grand job recording hydraulic installations. A search of their website will bring up useful data.
Two installations that survived into the 1970s were lifts. At Union
Bank Chambers, 61 Carey Street, WC2, the main passenger lift operated
on a hydraulic ram, with electric press-button control. With passengers
aboard the lift car traveled at normal speed but when called from rest,
the ram propelled the car at a truly unnerving rate of knots. The Grosvenor
Hotel, adjoining Victoria station, had a service lift of a very antique
character. It still used rope control (you pulled up or down on the
rope to start the lift and held it to stop). It operated at two speeds,
depending on your pull. There was no self-levelling at each floor but
auto-stop trips at the top and bottom of the shaft prevented over-run.
Electrical interlocks had been retro-fitted to the lift car's doors.
After the LHP Company went out of business, the system was converted
to oil, using an electrically driven compressor. Whether these two installations
survive is unclear.
The reason that I am writing to you is that at one time when I lived in London, I worked for LHP at 80 Grosvenor Road, Pimlico, where one of the pumping stations stood at the rear of the workshops. The workshops were on two floors; the machine shop was in the basement to road level, which turned the rams and cylinders, and the top shop we used for the building of lift cars.
I started working there in 1961 till 1968 and I was 17 years old at that time. I started as a turner improver and progressed to fabricator welder.
I worked on the Tower Subway at Tower Hill, where I fitted a new chequer plate floor. I did not know at that time the history of the subway until I got on to your website.
I also was on mains call out and when we had a leak, nine times out of ten it would blow up the road. Then I would get all my cutting gear ready to go out to cut out the section of pipe. Sometimes they would put steel plates over the hole to keep the traffic moving, while I was underneath cutting out the pipe.
Front view of the LHP Company's premises in Grosvenor Road, Pimlico in the mid-1960s.
The premises at 80 Grosvenor Road went under the name of HYPOWER. When I left in 1968, we were making hydraulic rams for the main shield for the Victoria Line for the section between Brixton to Victoria. which was started in Bessborough Gardens on the north side of Vauxhall Bridge. Where a 100ft hole was dug to go under the river to Brixton and Victoria, it now remains as a vent.
FURTHER RESOURCES ON THE WWW
[Source: Andy Emmerson]