I was given exclusive access to the works when pushing a TBM (Tunnel Boring Machine) under Hastings & St Leonards from the very start and took many pictures in the process.
I was also asked to take video’s for the Emergency services, Fire & Ambulance (Police weren’t involved) whilst carrying out a simulated rescue from deep down in the Storm Water Tunnel, whereby a person was trapped under a large concrete section.
You will have to forgive me when looking at some of the photo’s as some are not as good as others, mainly due to the fact the camera was quite old and still used wet film and sometimes the flash didn’t always work! I did use 2 cameras and a video cam recorder for the action shots, unfortunately haven’t got round to putting those on line as yet, but we will!
Please, if you have any comments or questions then use the contact box at the top of this page, and I will endeavour to answer your questions as to my ability of an author and not as a Southern Water man!
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Alexandra Park shaft lining segments
Alexandra Park dig begins on 22mtr deep shaft
Temporary spoil bin in Alexandra Park, so that digging could make a start.
Digging away at the base, as the spoil was removed hydraulic rams pushed down on the ring forcing the complete ring downwards, as more concrete rings were added the weight alone did most of the work.
Another view of the shaft
Rock Crusher sitting on its new base but waiting for the roof to be installed.
Starting the shaft at Warrior Square Gardens.
Bolting on another ring of concrete segments at Warrior Square.
Control panel that operates the rams mounted around the top of the shaft.
Coombs Motors old showroom and garage site on Western Road, now the new site for the pumping station.
As the same as picture above.
Alexandra Park shaft now sunk to the maximum depth. The only way down at the moment is by crane lowering you in a cage as seen here, and the plant was carried up and down in the same fashion (but not in a cage!)
Settlement tanks prior to being housed in a shed type building.
Liquid/Silt separators almost ready for use.
Rock crushers and shaking beds now installed under cover.
Cornwallis Gardens getting ready for yet another shaft to connect to the Town Centre.
Brookland Close shaft well under way, this one connects to Alexandra Park main tunnel as you will see further on.
Brookland Close shaft spoil being removed straight onto a waiting lorry and taken down to Alexandra park for bulk removal.
Brookland Close shaft showing exit tunnel to Alexandra Park.
At this present time the exit was sealed as this was a live sewer intersection!!
Stand well back!
Again November 1997
Coombs, showing main iron cutting ring on base of concrete liners that dug its way downwards under the weight of the rings above and with the aid of some hydraulic pressure in the form of rams pushing down on the top layer.
Alexandra Park starting to enclose some machinery in semi sound proof enclosures.
Alexandra Park concreting base of shaft.
Alexandra Park. Main 7m tunnel ring in place in readiness for the larger TBM, this will connect with Warrior Square.
Alexandra Park. ‘Little Ceel’ 2m TBM in readiness to bore its way to Brookland Close. (If you were wondering to how this 2m TBM arrived here……….well it came on the back of a few lorries in many pieces delivered straight into Alexandra Park, whereby it was lowered piece by piece down the shaft and put together, the brown marks on top are where the lifting eyes were cut off and ground flat. At the receiving end the lifting eyes were welded back on, so there you are). I suppose it’s more like trying to get your head through a hole but your ears were in the way, the only solution to that is….CUT THEM OFF!
2m Tunnel linings.
Alexandra Park. Starting to assemble the conveyor belt housing that will carry the spoil away to the adjacent railway sidings to be carted away by train to a landfill somewhere in Kent!
Conveyor belt housings being made ready for installation across the road to the railway sidings.
Alexandra Park. ‘Little Ceel’ the 2m TBM ready to drill its way to Brookland Close.
The machine had been drilling but was withdrawn due to a fault on the cutting head, hence the worn look!
Alexandra Park. Showing port of entry for 7m tunnel to Warrior Square.
Same as before but from a different angle.
Conveyor almost complete.
Railway sidings behind Earl Street to where the conveyor will tip the spoil into a massive storage containing area in readiness to by carted away by the railway.
Coombs site during early stages of shaft digging.
Coombs site taken from a different angle.
Coombs shaft being dug under great difficulties, as they had encountered a 3m thick layer of Lime Stone!
As above but looking down into the shaft.
Braybrooke Terrace as the road was narrowed due to yet another shaft to be dug.
Braybrooke Terrace all fenced in and work started.
Braybrooke Terrace and the spoil bin in full operation.
Braybrooke Close shaft under way.
Braybrooke Terrace shaft almost completed.
Coombs shaft site general view.
Coombs site, encountering a large amount of Lime Stone, because of this slight hold up 2 diggers were now engaged in the operation to speed things on.
Warrior Square gardens being made ready for the arrival of plant and machinery.
As above taken from a different angle.
Conveyor belt bridge in Alexandra Park nearly completed.
Conveyor belt assy, being built up on the ground before being raised by crane and bolted on to the previous section.
The Railway siding that were to be put back into constant use since the late 1930’s to store open wagons for the spoil to be loaded into and transported away.
Looking inside one of the conveyors with the belt system nearly ready for linking up with others.
‘Little Ceel’ TBM almost arrived at Brookland Close, just a few more tunnel pipes and she’s there! The rams behind the tunnel segments pushing the TBM through with the linings behind.
The TBM comes out at the other end leaving the bore fully lined with the concrete segments.
The 7m tunnel entrance is being opened up in readiness for the big ‘girl’ TBM after the removal of the 2m equipment is lifted out of the way. (Why do I call the big TBM a girl? you just wait and see)!
Alexandra Park, grey sludge and very wet clay
First load of spoil to be deposited in a temporary bin, first dry stone then very wet sludge!
Settlement tanks in Alexandra Park now in full use.
The end of the conveyor at the railway sidings.
Warrior Square half completed plant rooms.
Same plant room but full of emptiness!
Cornwallis Gardens shaft outline being dug in readiness for the ring.
Coombs shaft now progressing much quicker after encountering the thick layer of Lime Stone.
‘Janice’ the 7m TBM awaits off shore for high tide .
March 14th 1998.
‘Janice’ has arrived! I did say it was a girl!!
The reason for girls names on TBM’s is that these are generally named after the top people’s wife’s on the Water Board, or whom they are built for!
The beach was specially dug out to accommodate the flat bottomed barge, so that when the tide went out it would remain flat!!
TBM being made ready for road transportation into Alexandra Park at night.
Building the roadway across from the barge to the beach.
Roadway now built.
Heavy haulage low loaders back onto the barge under one of the rings and jack the trailer up and take it onto dry land in readiness for its journey to the park at night.
See the cage suspended in the air with top officials on board to get a birds eye view!
Brookland Close and ‘Little Ceel’ cutting head now completed its work here brought to the surface.
April 28th 1998
Brookland Close break through.
The brown stain on the bottom sections of the shaft show how water was at that level during drilling when the shaft was unattended.
Water was pumped out prior to break through, other wise someone would have got wet at the other end!!
Brookland Close coming to an end, whereby the site was being cleared.
7m cutting head delivered to Alexandra Park.
7m TBM ‘Janice’ now awaits to be sent to the bottom of the shaft.
Railway sidings spoil bins collection area now ready for use. In the construction of the walls some 480 old railway sleepers were used as a supporting wall between steel girders set into the ground.
Braybrooke Terrace site as seen from Linton Road railway bridge.
Braybrooke Terrace shaft nearing completion.
Cornwallis Gardens shaft.
Warrior Square shaft being cleared ion readiness to receive ‘Janice’.
Coombs shaft base being concreted over.
Coombs site being prepared for the erection of the new pumping station.
View inside the 7m TBM rock crushing jaws.
Sealing brushes on ring for seal.
Alexandra Park. Part of the pumping equipment that follows behind the 7m TBM.
Hydraulic ram system that pushes the TBM forward when cutting.
Alexandra Park. 800 ton crane being assembled in readiness to lift all of ‘Janice’ and her bits and pieces down the shaft.
I was informed that this is the largest land crane in the UK to lift a load of 800 tons, and had to be booked 2 years in advance; and the daily hiring cost was something like £8000 per day, so there was no time wasted here!!
Crane fully assembled and ready to be put to work.
Apart from the cutting head housing which had already been taken down, this was closely followed by the cutting head itself.
And away she goes!
Cutting head being positioned onto its housing which had been taken down a day earlier.
Guide ring being got ready.
Guide ring now secured in its proper place.
The next few pictures show the amount of additional parts required to make up a TBM .
Now to make all this equipment work you need some power so! How about 11kv (11,000 volts) from a dedicated transformer supplied and installed by SEEB/EDF on site.
‘Little Ceel’ completed her first journey to Brookland Close, now she is to connect Warrior Square to Coombs.
Alexandra Park, Emergency generator on top ready for any break in the supplies to the plant underground.
A whole load of more parts of the TBM await a decent underground.
The main control room also waiting to be lowered down.
Now lowered, it now has to be turned in line with the tunnel.
Even now the train is incomplete, even though the control room has now been connected.
I have no doubt was so ever as you ask how did the various parts start to disappear into the tunnel when there was so much including the control room still on top? Easy, The main cutting ring was obviously the first to be assembled and start to work, but how? A temporary wall was set up at the rear allowing the rams to push the machine forward,(later it pushed against the rings in the tunnel) and the head was controlled from a remote station on top as there was no dedicated path to follow until all the machine was set up and underway proper. There were dozens of pipes and cables going back to the top and connected with temporary equipment to get the front end moving. The spoil was sent back as it was intended under the train and collected in large iron buckets at this stage. Now that’s how it went all on its own just for starters!!
Railway sidings. Train awaits to be filled.
Cornwallis shaft all complete.
The little hole at the base to the side contains a temporary sump pump to help keep the shaft free of water!
Coombs site. Outer walls being cast in reinforced concrete.
Coombs shaft base being prepared for concrete oversite.
Coombs shaft having a second ring installed inside the first, with landings for pumps etc.
Water will be held between the two rings with the centre kept dry at all times.
At various levels there are to be installed water tight inspection doors with glass windows. The gap between the two walls was about 6 foot wide.
Braybrooke Terrace. A row of 10 terraced houses had to come down for fear of severe cracking when ‘Janice’ passed underneath.
This is the new train crew cab that will transport workers and equipment through the tunnel. This is a 2 foot gauge railway.
These are the flat wagons that will carry the concrete segments to the face.
Braybrooke Terrace demolition well in hand now.
Alexandra Park. 7M TBM well under way now under its own power. The 2 ft gauge railway track has been laid in the centre in readiness to receive the train.
Coombs Site. Various footings are being constructed for pumping station plant etc.
Coombs site. Outer supporting walls now completed.
September 1998 The boarded up holes in the walls will eventually have windows fitted.
Cornwallis Gardens, general view of site.
Cornwallis Gardens and ‘Little Ceel’ the 2m TBM on surface, ready for its last journey to the town centre.
The old cutting head that no longer is needed as this had served its purpose well.
A new style of head has been brought it to deal with a different soil condition.
Town Centre site being the last is being set out.
Yet same again!
Memorial site shaft being out lined now that the site has been secured.
Braybrooke Terrace site with the 10 terraced houses nearly all gone.
All but gone!
Site now cleared.
The steps to no where remain for now.
Left all neat and tidy,(well nearly!) but no development will ever be built on this ground ever again.
The saga for compensation from householders in the vicinity of the boring started very early in time (Lower Park Road) stating that the works even before they had started were claiming that their houses were cracking up! ‘Miller and Southern Water’ employed the services of a highly qualified building surveyor to check every property in the area, one by one for any damage long before the works started and photos were taken of each house. Once the tunnel was underway the surveyor revisited all the properties and again took photos, NOTHING had changed at all even to a minor flaw! The 7m TBM did vibrate a little especially when it came across hard rock, but surface detection monitoring equipment all along its route picked up nothing abnormal for a machine of this size and depth.
The only ones that were in some sort of a problem was the stretch of 10 terraced houses directly opposite the shaft in Braybrooke Terrace that some were already in poor upkeep, so possibly the vibration from the boring might just help them on their way, especially as the foundations weren’t up to scratch! It was a long time before a positive decision was made to compulsory purchase the entire site, but home owners weren’t happy with either the offer nor having their houses flattened! But the level of compensation was raised to an undisclosed sum and they all eventually moved out, and then the demolition crews moved in and tore down the buildings.
The next site for discussion was Cornwallis Gardens, there was one particular property right in the line of fire as they say for the connection from the shaft in Cornwallis Gardens to the Town Centre. This, if as planned would go straight under N0 12, but the building was already unstable on the rear corner and the contractors couldn’t take the risk of having to demolish more property and rebuild, especially as this was a HMO (house of multiple occupation) so perhaps not quite the easiest answer was to divert the course of the tunnel and follow the road out of Cornwallis area and straight down the middle of Cambridge road, this way it would affect no one. All properties were monitored all the time, and I was allowed to follow one of their representatives go round and check. Brookland Close was a different case as a domestic garage sat right on top of a man hole just where a new shaft was to be dug. Consequently, the owner was paid yet another undisclosed sum to demolish the garage and see ‘Millers’ dig a thundering great hole just where their garage was, but after all the works had finished they had a brand new garage built to a much higher specification than what was already there in the beginning. Rock crushing especially on Coombes site was a bit noisy to say the least but no one got any compensation that I am aware.
The town centre site was laugh all of its own, as before the works started the contractors were told that during reinstatement of the ground, they had to make the top bare the weight of about 50 tons, as the council would re-position the memorial clock on that circle, some 16/17 years later I can’t recall seeing a clock there!!! But ‘Southern Water’ spent a lot of extra cash installing steel girders underneath as added support apart from the reinforced concrete slab!
Coombs site. Inner ring being constructed in shaft.
Cornwallis Gardens. 2M shaft to town centre.
Cornwallis Gardens. ‘Little Ceel’ the 2M TBM now starts its journey to the town centre.
Alexandra Park. We are now at the base of the main shaft and looking up the tunnel which connects to Brooklands Close.
Alexandra Park. Now in the tunnel looking back to the main shaft.
We are now at the front business end of the main TBM, the rams that push the whole machine forward can be seen on the left hand side.
This shows the traverser that positions the concrete segments ready for the machine to put them in their place around the ring.
Looking to the right hand side, again showing the rams.
The cutting head is behind the front wall which is air locked between two shields.
If maintenance has to be carried out on the head, ie., replacing cutting wheels (which has happened on more than one occasion) the crew access the inner chamber with all the bits required for the job, then wait for the pressure to equalize with the front end before the second door is opened, this is to keep a constant pressure up so that there is minimal risk of a collapse at the head as its drawn away from the soil. All this happens in reverse on withdrawal.
Coombs site. The main pumping station is now taking shape.
Warrior Square. New shaft being hand dug to the left of the site in the roadway, this is for the overflow pipe of clean water to be discharged beyond the beach opposite. All the broken clay pipes seen smashed here were replaced as new.
This picture gives you a rough idea as to where the new shaft was sunk.
Warrior Square. This shows a bucket on a small crane being filled with spoil dug from the hole towards the beach.
Looking up the tunnel which is being dug completely by hand.
Another similar view.
Here is a poor chap on his hands and knees digging away towards the beach.
Alexandra Park. The big white tube takes fresh air into the tunnel.
Coombs site. The steel framework of the pump house in very much under way now.
From yet another angle.
Looking at the steel work from above.
Warrior Square. Outfall connection being encased in a concrete wall on the beach.
Again as before.
Coombs. Bricks now on site for the build of the pump house outer walls.
Coombs main shaft. Building the valve chamber.
Still the valve chamber.
Town Centre shaft.
Cornwallis shaft being connected to main drive.
Cornwallis shaft looking up from the base some 45m to the open air.
Braybrooke Terrace as seen from the base.
Coombs outer brickwork now takes shape quite quickly.
Alexandra Park. hand drive out to the road to connect to existing pipe line.
As before, but a load of old muck!
Town Centre shaft and connections from Cornwallis Gardens along with another.
Cornwallis Garden site starting to be cleared away ready for reinstatement.
Cornwallis Gardens shaft being made ready to be filled in.
Cornwallis Gardens back
filling the shaft.
Back filling the shaft, the bin is not taking the old spoil away but dumping it back into the depths of the shaft.
Alexandra Park. Grouting mixing tank up front of TBM, you stand too close when the paddles are turning and you get covered….I know I was that man!
The concrete segments being positioned.
Putting the long bolts in place that secures the segments in place, these are tightened by a pneumatic air gun.
Yes, this is now the other side!
Another segment comes into place.
All looking good up til now.
Coombs. Asphalting the roof area of the pumping station.
Coombs. Laying 3 inch thick polystyrene blocks then pumping from ground level hot asphalt which is then leveled out.
Coombs roof gardens being formed in ornamental brick shapes, so that people in the flats over looking the plant don’t just have to look at a plain old roof.
Alexandra Park. Last train load of concrete ring segments being transported to the front end, just days away from break through at warrior Square.
Now arrived at the front end. Just hours away from break through.
Warrior Square. Baldwins have now supplied the contractors with a 1000 ton crane to retrieve the TBM from the shaft back into the daylight.
Warrior Square. The 1000 tonner has joined forces with another of their fleet, this time just a 300 ton crane. these will work in tandem when the parts reach the surface when they have to be laid down flat ready for transportation on a low loader.
Cutter bearing housing now out on top, now laid flat.
The bearing housing, but it looks as if it’s had a hard time under Hastings!
Looking up through the housing.
The cutter head.
The cutting head up close.
Poor old thing really now needs to see a dentist!! We appear to have lost a molar somewhere!!!
Whilst the welding back on of the lifting eyes are re-attached, a tarpaulin covers the arc from the welding to protect those looking on (such as me!).
Now ready to be attached to the chains and hoisted up onto dry land.
Whilst the TBM is taken apart within the confines of the tunnel, there is barely enough room for each section to be lifted out, with only a few inches in clearance on either side.
Hello, I made it minus a few bits! This is the ram section.
Looks in quite a state and be sure that it was just that!
I did say earlier on in the show that when you saw the machine removed from the tunnel it would look rather like a piece of scrap metal, the lower parts were simply covered in lubricating oil, and hydraulic oil etc, etc. But according to the big officials that by the time it has gone through the manufacturers factory to recondition the machine it will look as new again (minus a few hundred thousand pounds).
Same dirty old parts.
Last view of this part.
Ere George! I swear there is a bit missing here!
Ram section being made ready to be laid flat on blocks.
More pieces made ready for the lift.
Alexandra Park. Equipment being dismantled in readiness to clear the site, and return the area back to what it was.
More plant being removed.
Cornwallis Gardens being reinstated back to a public area.
Cornwallis Gardens from another angle.
Yes! completely out of order I know, but this is Braybrooke Terrace in the early stages of demolition.
Yep! one more of the ill fated terrace before it all came down.
Alexandra Park shaft. this is a tractor being lowered down into the depths of the shaft to pull back the parts which couldn’t be removed at Warrior Square end, like the control room and other large parts that couldn’t be dismantled beyond their size that was supplied in the first place.
Now almost at the ready to enter the tunnel to retrieve those larger parts.
Alexandra Park. Shaft concrete lid sections being delivered in readiness to cap the shaft for ever more.
One of the sections.
The sections being laid in order to fit the circumference of the shaft..
Quite an area to cover! The filtration plant has been placed under the cover on a level cast for this assembly to sit away from the rising waters in the tunnel.
On the ring numbered 1066 a plaque was placed to commemorate this achievement in line with King Harold and the ‘Battle of Hastings’ in 1066
To commemorate the finish of the tunnel, Southern Water offered just 1,066 tickets to the public to walk the tunnel before it was sealed for life, as this type of project would never in our lifetime been seen again in Hastings. On completion of the walk you were issued with a certificate to say that you had completed the walk. At both ends you were lowered down in a cage and brought out by the same method. November 1999
At points of interest along the tunnel, signs informed you to where you were at any given point.
The end is in sight, I kept telling my wife that (as I did the journey many times on the train) That’s my dear wife in front with the white coat, not the one in the fluorescent jacket Silly!!
Falaise Road, the air vent for the Warrior Square tunnel, it wasn’t allowed to be erected anywhere near to the gardens, so the only place was at the toilets in Falaise Road, disguised as a clock.
Alexandra Park. The vent pipe from the shaft comes up behind the toilet block , the stack is yet to be built.
Warrior Square. The concrete oversite has been lifted in readiness for carting away.
Warrior Square. Clearing the site, and all the boundary fences started to collapse and having to be propped. up.
From another angle.
Coombs roof brickwork showing very expensive purpose made Southern Waters trade mark tiles.
Coombs roof garden now ready for top soil to be delivered and put into the bedding areas.
Coombs. The pipes sticking out of the border planters are water drains.
Coombs. This is a picture of one of the ornamental door ways built into the building.
Alexandra Park. Breaking up the concrete floor of the site.
Again but from a different angle.
Alexandra Park. The start of the hoarding around the site being dismantled.
Alexandra Park shaft lid now concreted over.
The cover plates to access the plant mounted on a purpose built shelf just under the lid.
The covering tops for the trap access have now arrived.
Lids now positioned, these are designed to be covered in soil, and grass to disguise these from a flat lawn.
The covers don’t lift out, they hinge!
The old Park keepers cottage just inside the main gate was taken over for the duration as offices, (mind you there was more mud on the floor here than in the tunnel at times!).
Warrior Square was under going the same treatment as far as putting a lid on the shaft.
Alexandra Park shaft venting came up behind the toilet block, the plastic pipe was more or less the liner, this was to be encased in brickwork later on.
Warrior Square gardens almost looking something like normal!
And so the reinstatement goes on.
Coombs inside the pumping station near enough now completed.
Coombs. Down inside the shaft with all the pipework and pumps below us.
Coombs. Just a glimpse of some of the equipment.
There were a lot more pictures taken but unbeknown to me the film jammed after taken just a couple of shots!.
Coombs. Sludge bins from cleaning the screens. (it stank!!). perhaps that’s to why there are double doors to get into the plant, just like an air lock!
Alexandra Park. The soil had now been rotorvated and raked several hundred times, and grass seed was sewn on the area.
The area had a new approach road and footpaths laid, compliments of Southern Water (how kind!).
Alexandra Park tunnel vent pipe now built. (how posh!!!).
Lastly, the rebuilt garage that had to be demolished to gain access to the new surface water shaft. Now a bright shiny new garage emerges from on top the shaft!
We have now reached this point in time to where we must close this little piece of Hastings history, whereby all the workers have gone and all the sites have been reinstated to their original formats.
My sincere thanks must go to ‘Southern Water and Millers’ for their total cooperation in letting me be a free agent to go where no others had gone.
For those of you that have tried to count the pictures here, there are 251, but in the collection there are more than 350, but only the best were chosen.
Thank you for having the interest to come on board and look at my web site, if you have any comments about the site, please respond by using the contact box at the top of the page, thank you.