We had a slightly interesting journey to get there - the Brede Valley was flooded, and the road by the river was about a foot deep. Some drivers are such fools, the way they surge through floods at high speed - not only will they swamp themselves, but they risk swamping other cars also.
The Waterworks, and the modern treatment plant beside it, are in an isolated and beautiful position in the Brede valley. Originally, coal to fuel the engines was brought by barge up the river and then carried to the works on a little steam railway. Apparently, however, the wells were sunk in the wrong place - the underground supplies of water turned out to be inadequate.
The 'Giants' of Brede - the steam engines, are just fabulous.
The oldest and most beautiful engine was made by Tangye's of Birmingham in 1904.
|The Tangye engine|
The huge engine is in flawless condition, and is still working perfectly after over a hundred years and a long working life - it was superseded by electric pumps in 1964.
I could not help reflecting, briefly, on the tragic decline of Birmingham heavy engineering industry. Formerly, the much derided inhabitants of 'Benefits Street' would have had a hard, but dignified, working life labouring to make wonderful things such as that engine.
|That flywheel weighs 12 tons|
As mentioned before when we went on the Kent and East Sussex Railway back in the summer, Battleaxe is fascinated by old engines. Don't ask me why. Perhaps its genetic. As usual, most of the Engine Admirers there today were men.
In addition to the big engines, there were lots of other smaller pumps and engines working away that had been brought from other waterworks around East Sussex. The outfit is entirely run by volunteers. You could get coffee, and of course - cake. We were impressed, particularly as it is free to go in.
I'll upload a little video of the Tangye engine below.
Outside, there was another treat - a big nuclear bunker to wander round. This one would have housed the heads of the utility companies in the South-East. All the fixtures and fittings were still in place. Philosopher and I reflected on the craziness of the thinking back then. There would be these bunkers with groups of big-wigs in, but what were they supposed to do? All the workers would still be outside, presumably unprotected. I suppose they had to plan something, but it was, in practice, pretty meaningless.
|The nuclear bunker|
The organist was practising his hymns. 'O Sacred Head Sore Wounded', for Easter, presumably. One of my favourites: 'What sorrow mars thy grandeur? Can death thy bloom deflower' etc. It was nice to hear it even with a few mistakes and rheumatic organ wheezes.
This will be my last blog post for a few days - we are off to Lisbon. Assuming we ever get there - the weather is just horrendous.
|View of Brede Valley|
|Driving home through the floods by Brede Bridge|