Work Completed on Hammersmith Super Sewer Site

Pumping station also gains plaque celebrating former resident Queen Caroline

Work taking place at the Chancellors Road site

February 12, 2024

Tideway, the company building London’s new super sewer, has announced that construction work at Hammersmith Pumping Station is now complete.

The super sewer, a 25 km long tunnel under the River Thames, is due to be finished next year.

At Hammersmith Pumping Station, on Chancellor’s Road behind the Riverside Studios, Tideway says it has:

• Excavated a 32m-deep shaft which will channel and direct sewage overflows into the new 300m tunnel.
• Built a 300m tunnel linking the pumping station to the main 25km sewer.
• Built new air treatment structures to draw air into the sewer and ensure that the air that is released is filtered, to minimise odour.
• Installed mechanical and electrical equipment to make everything run smoothly.

The company adds, “Construction work is now complete at this site, however you may continue to see some Tideway or Thames Water presence as we work to bring the super sewer into operation.”

Hammersmith Pumping Station has also become the first Tideway site to gain a permanent public artwork - a bronze plaque displaying a quote from Queen Caroline.

Queen Caroline spent her last years in Brandenburg House, a mansion which stood on part of the site overlooking Hammersmith’s riverbank. She was married to King George IV - a disastrous marriage which outdid any of today’s royal scandals.

The bronze plaque contains her words, first quoted in The Times, “ A government cannot stop the march of intellect any more than they can arrest the motion of the tides or the course of the planets.”

Queen Caroline spent her last years in Brandenburg House in Hammersmith
Queen Caroline spent her last years in Brandenburg House in Hammersmith. Picture: H&F Libraries

Artist Sarah Staton, who created the panel says, “ I became fascinated by the flamboyant Queen Caroline who lived at Hammersmith, and appears to have been rather more popular with the British public than with her husband, or his extensive and powerful entourage.

“ I was taken with Caroline’s resilience, independence and the progressive circle she ran with. Caroline’s canny perception shines through time, and I am delighted to re-present her words in the enduring format of the bronze plaque."

The plaque with the words of Queen Caroline near the site
The plaque with the words of Queen Caroline near the site

In 1794, George III refused to support his wayward son unless he married, and his cousin, Caroline of Brunswick, was considered a suitable match - despite the fact that they had never met, and the fact that George was already secretly married to Maria Fitzherbert, though this was not legal as he did not have the King’s permission.

The marriage was a disaster from the start, with the couple repelled by each other. Seeing Caroline for the first time, George called for a brandy and was extremely drunk throughout the wedding ceremony.

Queen Caroline
Queen Caroline. Picture: H&F Libraries

Caroline did give birth to her daughter Princess Charlotte nine months after the wedding, but by April 1796 the couple had formally separated and she became increasingly unhappy and left for Europe in 1814.

In 1820, George became King and Caroline returned to Britain to assert her position as Queen. George, however vowed she would never be Queen, and attempted to divorce her by introducing the Pains and Penalties Bill to Parliament, which was effectively a public trial.

The trial caused a sensation, but George was deeply unpopular and seen as an incompetent drunk, whereas Caroline was viewed as the wronged wife and was so popular with the public that the Bill was withdrawn. .

It was during this period that Caroline was living in Brandenburg House, and when she died in August 1821, her funeral procession began at the house. It was demolished a year later.

The words on the plaque were set in Doves Type, which also has a fascinating history. It was created at Hammersmith as a reinterpretation of hand drawn manuscript letters. However, a bitter feud between Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson and Emery Walker, partners in Hammersmith’s celebrated Doves Press (named at the Dove’s Pub), led to the unique metal type being thrown into the Thames from Hammersmith Bridge.

Robert Green, a contemporary typographer, began to re-create the Doves type in 2013, and in two years later a search of the riverbed near Hammersmith Bridge, with help from the Port of London Authority, turned up 150 pieces of the original type. This helped Robert to refine the font and Doves Type is now being used in several Tideway commissions.

Sarah Staton is also creating two bronze sculptures for our borough’s other Tideway site, in Carnwath Road in Fulham, showing two herons, one standing and another flying upstream.

The plaque with Queen Caroline's words can be seen on the western wall of the pumping station.

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