FAO aero280

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FAO aero280

Postby StokeySue » June 8th, 2019, 11:47 pm

0389026D-F3C9-4B57-AEE2-694EE039F74A.jpeg


OK. This is really bugging History of Stoke Newington https://stokenewingtonhistory.com/ and friends

This is a cover of something, probably to do with water supply, found on Stoke Newington Church Street. We think it’s late c19 or very early c20. We have also discovered one quite near that’s just the same, except the initials are N.R., and someone found one near Farringdon with the initials F.B. Leading theory is that it might be connected to the New River Water supply but I’m not convinced.

aero280, or anyone else for that matter, any idea what it is or where else we could look for information? All information gratefully received
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Re: FAO aero280

Postby StokeySue » June 9th, 2019, 9:17 am

01FBF4D0-581F-4C9B-841F-69F02E831D2F.jpeg
Another pic
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Re: FAO aero280

Postby scullion » June 9th, 2019, 10:20 am

does look like a stop valve/cock cover - have you tried lifting the flap?
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Re: FAO aero280

Postby earthmaiden » June 9th, 2019, 10:39 am

Sue, I hope Aero can help. Those covers look quite small, like valve covers to outside stop valves serving properties rather than larger valve covers for valves on water mains but could possibly be over 3" mains running under footways. Pre early 1900's there were, as you probably know, many different water companies serving different bits of London which eventually amalgamated into the Metropolitan Water Board but those initials (apart from N.R.) don't seem to tally with anything. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metropolitan_Water_Board.

I have a feeling that I have heard that sometimes covers bore the manufacturer's initials.

If you don't have any luck, Thames Water does hold quite decent archives I think - contact the press office. There are also a few retired old boys who like to dabble in that kind of thing who could probably be found ;).
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Re: FAO aero280

Postby StokeySue » June 9th, 2019, 2:52 pm

Thanks em

I haven’t tried lifting one though I think someone else may have done. :oops:

I think aero is currently our best bet
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Re: FAO aero280

Postby StokeySue » June 10th, 2019, 5:49 pm

I hadn't appreciated aero was swanning round Scandinavia, so I've sent him a PM that he can see on his return to soggy England
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Re: FAO aero280

Postby aero280 » June 10th, 2019, 8:22 pm

Thanks for the PM. Here's the response...

I'm on the way home! Back on Friday evening. :)

We have had a long drive down from Trollhättan on Lake Vanern today and a very nice meal in the Scandic hotel in Kolding on the Danish mainland.

The cover in question should be over a small valve with an open end, with or without a filter. It's an "Air Cock". Probably just an ordinary small brass stopcock on the end of a length of lead pipe. The pipe may be long enough to move the position of the air cock so that it could be operated in the footway while the main itself was out in the road.

These were fitted at local high points on the water main so that all the air could be removed and the pipe completely filled with water. They were really only used on first filling the pipes, or when the pipe had been drained for a repair and refilled. They perform the same function as the air-bleed valves on radiators in your house. They were entirely manually operated by the local "Turncock". There was a turncock living in a staff house every dozen or so streets whose job it was to operate all valves and record the position of them. No one else was allowed to operate valves on the mains.

These days any new main will have an automatic air valve at high points which will release any trapped air at any time. It's a rubber bung that's lifted into a hole by a float. These later valves will also let air into a main when it's being drained down for repair.

Hope that helps!
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Re: FAO aero280

Postby aero280 » June 10th, 2019, 8:42 pm

A bit more on the letters on the valve covers. There were two sets usually and sometimes an arrow.

One set was the function.

So a house would have a cover with "SV" for stopvalve on it, or just "W", or "water". Because the gas boards used the same designs.

"AC" is aircock
"FH" is fire hydrant
"WO" is washout - exactly the same as a fire hydrant, but the FH was adopted by the fire brigade and maintained by them after installation.
"Meter" will have a flow meter beneath.
"AV" will be an automatic air valve.

If there's an arrow, it will show the direction of closing. These days all valves are right hand close, but in the past it was common for the "normal" set-up of the system to have all valves fully turned anti-clockwise. This was so that after a long repair - usually overnight - the guys with the local knowledge and expertise in isolating and draining a pipe for repair could be sent home to rest and anyone else from other areas could be brought in and told to go round and make sure every valve was "open" i.e. turned anti-clockwise. It may mean that some valves would be closed, which would be their normal position. Usually sitting between different pressure zones and only opened when there was a need for an alternative supply to an area in an emergency.

The first water into London was the New River from Hertford to Islington. The New River Company had covers with "NR" on them. There was also the East London Waterworks Company with a treamant works in Lee Bridge Road. Then there was the Hampton and Surbiton works that were set up when the London County Council banned anyone from pumping water from the Thames below Teddington Weir and selling it. So there was the Lambeth Waterworks Company, Vauxhall WWC, and many others, all with their own street furniture. The Metropolitan Water Board too over them all, including Croydon and Epsom, et al.
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Re: FAO aero280

Postby earthmaiden » June 10th, 2019, 9:56 pm

Do the ACs show up on modern plans? I don't think they do unless they are under a different guise, it would be quite useful ....
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Re: FAO aero280

Postby StokeySue » June 10th, 2019, 10:20 pm

That is fantastic aero280, thank you so much

All that detail about turncocks etc. is just the sort of thing History of Stokey loves

I feel a history talk coming on

Thanks again. Enjoy the rest of the trip
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Re: FAO aero280

Postby suffolk » June 11th, 2019, 8:57 am

Absolutely fascinating Will .... I’ve seen these and wondered ... now I know :D

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Re: FAO aero280

Postby aero280 » June 11th, 2019, 8:33 pm

earthmaiden wrote:Do the ACs show up on modern plans? I don't think they do unless they are under a different guise, it would be quite useful ....


I think it's a bit hit and miss. The plans were copied by temporary staff who had no idea what they were copying. They were then sent back to the local area for checking, but due to staff cuts etc. no one had time to do it. :( I've seen plans with "AC" on them, but not many.


A bit more on the history of the London water supply and the turncocks...

When the New River, an artificial canal, was built in the very early 1600's it ran from the springs at Amwell on the edge of the chalk in Hertfordshire, Nr Ware. It ran down the west side of the Lee Valley to a reservoir in Islington next to the Savoy Theatre of Gilbert & Sullivan fame. From there, mains ran downhill into London. From the mains a small diameter lead pipe ran to the boundary of a property that had paid for a water supply. The pipe stopped at the boundary where the householder would install a water butt. The turncocks would go around the area opening valves to run water through each of the mains for about half an hour in the morning and sometimes again in the evening. That was the only time the house would be fed water, hence the water butt. There were no valves on the household supply, so the butt would fill as far as possible in the half hour, or overflow in some cases. There was no continuous water supply to properties in the early days. But the responsibility of supplying water to a property boundary remains. this makes it different from the supply of gas and electricity where the responsibility ends at the meter which is at, or inside, the house.

The New River was cut short in the late 19th century and used to fill the two open reservoirs in Stoke Newington. The treatment works opposite the "Castle" (now flats) was the new source of water for central London. The river was further cut back about 20 years ago at Enfield and the water transferred into the Lea Valley reservoir system.
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Re: FAO aero280

Postby StokeySue » June 11th, 2019, 9:57 pm

Wow aero
The err nerds are very happy with all the info so thanks. :hi5:

We’ve had a couple of discussions of the New River at History of Stokey, and I’ve walked a fair bit of the New River Path in chunks, a couple of us had a plan to walk it all last summer, I should resurrect it.

Here’s the path
https://www.walkingenglishman.com/ldp/newriverpath.html

We’ve got a fair bit of it on the ground of course, the East and West reservoirs, now Woodberry Wetlands on the East and sailing and canoeing on the West. I remember the campaign to save them. Sadly we lost the campaign to save the filter beds. We have the. Castle, the old pumping station now a climbing centre and various bits of the old canalised water course appear as ornamental ponds in Clissold Park and through Canonbury (Islington)
http://www.woodberrywetlands.org.uk
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Re: FAO aero280

Postby aero280 » June 12th, 2019, 7:12 pm

I worked on the decommissioning of the treatment works. The mains needed diverting and were quite deep. It was a very tricky job as the ground had been waterlogged for so long it was like quicksand. There was also a pause when we were clearing out the sand from the old beds. One of the workmen picked up a soggy packet sitting on the sand, and said "There's a whole load of these down here. Does anyone know what Semtex is? " :o Work stopped for a while, but Semtex isn't dangerous in its natural state!! The origin was never discovered, but it was suggested that someone in the IRA had got rid of it in a hurry and thrown it over the fence!

The New River Path could be given a bit more length. Several loops were cut off over the years. There was a big loop to the west to Whitewebbs Pumping Sta. - now the Whitewebbs Motor Museum. That was by-passed by an embankment. A loop north in Enfield that was by-passed by a culvert down toward Bush Hill. The bit to the east of Wightman Rd in Haringey runs behind the houses. I believe that there was another loop in the Tottenham area, but I never found any details. There's also the loop around Clissold Park.

I did see an map of the original route years ago, but no one was sure if that was the plan, or an "as built" drawing.
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Re: FAO aero280

Postby earthmaiden » June 12th, 2019, 9:59 pm

I think it's a bit hit and miss. The plans were copied by temporary staff who had no idea what they were copying. They were then sent back to the local area for checking, but due to staff cuts etc. no one had time to do it.

Hmmm, it's like Chinese whispers with a bit more misinterpreted or missed out each time it goes round. My colleagues will be interested in the air cocks, it will be my parting gift :lol:.
Sue - have you any idea of the address for that cover or any other A.C. one? It would be interesting for us to check it out. Many of the field workers in north London will be retiring in the next few years and this sort of info will be easily lost if they don't pass it on to the newbies.
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Re: FAO aero280

Postby dennispc » June 13th, 2019, 3:52 pm

Fascinating aero280, I was born not far from WhiteWebbs park and us kids spent happy hours there (and Hilly Fields opposite) not returning home until we gauged it was time for tea. The New River and, what was known as little Venice in Enfield, were all part of my paper round.
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Re: FAO aero280

Postby StokeySue » June 13th, 2019, 5:06 pm

I remember the Semtex. Quite a lot of excitement

We had a history evening that included a presentation on the Save the Reservoirs campaign and on the history of Middleton and the New River, that included maps of the various routes. This was given by Nick Higham, former BBC journalist who is now writing a history of London’s water supply. His slides are on line, dated 30 November 2017.
https://stokenewingtonhistory.com/2017/12/01/30-11-2017-stoke-newington-history-talks-5-new-river-save-the-reservoirs-campaign-and-photos-from-the-hackney-archives/

The history boys would like to know if you have any idea why the third cover plate is embossed F.B. ?
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Re: FAO aero280

Postby aero280 » June 13th, 2019, 9:33 pm

To be honest, I don't know.

It may be "Fire Brigade". Is it near a block of flats or large building with it's own fire fighting system, like fire hose reels or sprinklers? If so, it will most likely be a fire brigade controlled valve on the branch off the water main.

I said earlier that domestic water supplies were the responsibility of the water board/company up to the boundary of the property. If the fire brigade required a separate main for fire fighting and fire safety, they would pay for the installation and future maintenance (probably getting a reimbursement from the property owner) of that supply pipe, but the responsibility started as soon as the pipe left the water main in the road. So a "fire brigade valve" was fitted on the branch pipe as close to the water main as possible. This usually meant that it was in the middle of the road.

I never installed a cover with that marking, so I'm speculating a bit. The cover is probably very old. If it's still legible, it can't have been heavily trafficked.
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Re: FAO aero280

Postby StokeySue » June 13th, 2019, 9:37 pm

From what I know a fire riser is quite likely

Thanks aero. We’ll have to leave a bit of mystery
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Re: FAO aero280

Postby aero280 » June 13th, 2019, 9:43 pm

:tu: :tu:
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