Stinkers in Lowestoft

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History of sewer ventilation columns, commonly known as Stench pipes, Stink pipes or Gurney pipes, or simply 'Stinkers'
The summer of 1858 was known as ‘the Great Stink’ in London as there was a strong smell of untreated waste throughout the city, affecting those at work in the House of Commons. Joseph Bazalgette, the chief engineer of London’s Metropolitan Board of Works, proposed channelling waste through street sewers, into main intercepting sewers. These would transport waste towards the tidal part of the Thames so that it would be swept out to the sea.
The network of wide sewer tunnels required venting, which is why stink pipes were incorporated into the system. Based on the concept of a locomotive's blast-pipe - an idea allegedly invented by a Victoria-era surgeon, chemist and engineer named Sir Goldsworthy Gurney - stink pipes were made out of cast iron and placed along main sewer routes.
Some could be more than nine metres tall, which was deemed necessary in order to direct the toxic fumes a suitable distance above street level and unaffected by down-draughts.

Hundreds of stinkers still survive in many of the older towns and cities throughout the UK. Some have been truncated and appear more like bollards than ventilation systems. Others have retained their original height, including design elements and decorative motifs association with the Victorian period. Typically painted green or grey, stink pipes often include plaques that proudly display the names of their manufacturers. People tend walk past them every day and have no idea what they are - nor do they take any notice of them. However, the better preserved pipes are highly regarded by members of the numerous clubs and societies dedicated to the appreciation of this seemingly mundane, but essential part of the urban street-scene. Heidi Schwartz

Gurney’s ventilation pipe principle was put into practice along much of the length of the Victorian sewers, as you can still see the pipes in place today more or less following the route of the main sewers and on many of the connecting sewers too.

The smell is pervasive and mainly hydrogen sulphide, giving off a rotten egg smell, worse when sewage is travelling slowly over long distances. If mixed with methane there is a real risk of an explosion.

The pipes had to be tall so the noxious fumes and gasses escaped way above roof-level, and the Victorians were given a new canvas on which to show off their casting skills. Sewer gases can be heavier than air, it was necessary for the wind to disperse them before they could settle at ground level.

The vent pipes were located near the highest and lowest points in the system which encourages the through-flow of air, with some in-between on the longer runs.

A number of manufacturers were able to build and supply the ventilation pipes, usually with ornate designs, probably massively over-engineered, and many of which survive in place to the present day.

Companies such as J.Stone and Co. George Preston and John Prestige. Henry Edie and Co of Bow Foundry, in East London. AC Woodrow & Co. Frederick Bird & Co West Drayton. Ham, Baker & Co. of Westminster.



TM5292 : Stench pipe in Commodore Road, Oulton Broad by Adrian S Pye
The pipe has an extension to take it above the height of the roof.
The manufacturer's mark indicates it was made by Broad and Co, Ltd of London and bears "No.1" in the centre of the plate. TM5292 : Base of Stench pipe
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5293 : Stench pipe in Commodore Road, Oulton Broad by Adrian S Pye
This pipe is within 100 yards of an earlier pipe TM5292 : Stench pipe in Commodore Road, Oulton Broad and may be a vent for a private septic tank. This one is manufactured by Farrer of the Star Works, Heath Mill Lane, Birmingham, and bears a cap to prevent birds nesting and to disperse the gases. The base: TM5293 : Base of stench pipe in Commodore Road
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5493 : Stench pipe in Rotterdam Road, Lowestoft by Adrian S Pye
Neither the base nor the pipe have any maker's mark visible. It stands just on the edge of the Lowestoft cemetery.
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5292 : Stench pipe in Sycamore Avenue, Lowestoft by Adrian S Pye
The pipe is of a type common in Lowestoft, made by Ham Baker & Co - Limited - Engineers - Westminster. Like this one TM5391 : Stench Pipe outside the Fighting Cocks Pub
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5292 : Stench pipe in Dell Road West, Lowestoft by Adrian S Pye
As lofty as the houses in the street and made by Ham Baker & Co of Westminster although the maker's mark varies from the more commonly seen. See here TM5292 : Manufacturer's mark on the stench pipe in Dell Road West
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5292 : Stench pipe in Dell Road East, Lowestoft by Adrian S Pye
One of a similar pair 150 yards distant from each other TM5292 : Stench pipe in Dell Road West, Lowestoft. The manufacturer's plate reads "Ham Baker & Co Ltd - Makers - Westminster".
The plate is identical to its neighbour TM5292 : Manufacturer's mark on the stench pipe in Dell Road West.
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5492 : Stench pipe in Grosvenor Road, Lowestoft by Adrian S Pye
Originally standing between the houses and the L & N.E.R. railway line which ran from Oulton Broad South to the Mortons and Co-op canning factories (all long since gone) it barely reaches the rooftops but is topped with a crown. It bears no obvious maker's mark.
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5492 : Stench pipe west of Cleveland Road by Adrian S Pye
Someone's knocked a hole in the pipe to see what it contains. Many people I have spoken to have no idea of the purpose of these pipes. There is no obvious maker's mark but it was once topped with a crown as seen on its neighbour, just 67 yards away. TM5492 : Crown topping a Stench pipe in Grosvenor Road A few more rust holes are apparent in the upper stages of the pipe.
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5492 : Stench pipe in Commercial Road, Lowestoft by Adrian S Pye
This appears to be the most easterly of all the remaining "stinkers". The base is tall and fluted, like the one in Rotterdam Road and shows no obvious maker's mark
The pipe is split almost from top to bottom by rust and no doubt be removed in the not too distant future.
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5392 : Stench pipe in Kimberley Road, Lowestoft by Adrian S Pye
Standing close to the wall of the property in an access road this was another casting from Ham Baker & Co, - Limited - Engineers - Westminster.
The reflection in the glass door is NOT the householder.
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5392 : Disused stench pipe by Evelyn Simak
It stands by the side of a short access road turning off the B1531 road near the roundabout where it joins the A12, leading to work yards and businesses of which only hardstandings and weeds remain. The post was manufactured by Ham Baker Limited Engineers, Westminster > LinkExternal link. Ham Baker & Co produced a wide range of products including hydrants, white porcelain bricks, manhole covers, lamp posts, sewage vents and assorted sundries for piping systems. Like a lot of major companies, Ham Baker had a postal address in London but manufacturing took place at a canalside factory in Warley, West Midlands. In early 1983 the company was taken over by the Biwater Group.
by Evelyn Simak


TM5391 : Stench pipe in London Road South, Lowestoft by Adrian S Pye
One of the remaining stench pipes to still be found in the Lowestoft area.
These, in Lowestoft and surrounding area were manufactured by Ham Baker & Co Limited - Engineers. Westminster.
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5391 : Stench Pipe outside the Fighting Cocks Pub by Adrian S Pye
One of the remaining stench pipes to still be found in the Lowestoft area. I recall in the 1950s and '60s there used to be a concrete sewage pumping station in the centre of the road.
These, in Lowestoft and surrounding area were manufactured by Ham Baker & Co Limited - Engineers. Westminster.
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5392 : Old disused stench pipe on Waveney Drive by Adrian S Pye
One of the remaining stench pipes to still be found in the Lowestoft area.
Manufactured by Ham Baker & Co Limited - Engineers. Westminster. TM5391 : Manufacturer's mark on the local stench pipes
This is one of five I have been able to find to date.
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5391 : Former stench pipe in Walmer Road, Lowestoft by Adrian S Pye
Reduced to a stump when no longer necessary and made into a mini-garden by a householder.
These, in Lowestoft and surrounding area, were manufactured by Ham Baker & Co Limited - Engineers. Westminster.
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5394 : Stench pipe in Normandy Road by Adrian S Pye
Made by Adams Ltd. York
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5394 : Stench pipe in Teddar Road, Lowestoft by Adrian S Pye
Made By Adams Ltd. York
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5394 : Stench pipe #2  in Spashett Road, Lowestoft by Adrian S Pye
Made by Adams Ltd. York
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5394 : Stench pipe on Spashett Road, Lowestoft by Adrian S Pye
Made by Adams Ltd. York
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5494 : Stench pipe in Europa Road, Lowestoft by Adrian S Pye
Made by Adams Ltd. York.
One of two in close proximity
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5494 : Stench pipe in Europa Road, Lowestoft by Adrian S Pye
Made by Adams Ltd. York
One of two in close proximity
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5392 : Remains of a stench pipe in Kimberley Road by Adrian S Pye
There are two stinkers in Kimberley Road, the other is TM5392 : Stench pipe in Kimberley Road, Lowestoft This one was made by Tuke and Bell Ltd. - Engineers - Lichfield & - London.
When decommissioned it was filled with concrete.
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5392 : Stench pipe in Waveney Crescent by Adrian S Pye
Still retaining its full height it was made by Tuke and Bell Ltd. - Engineers - Lichfield & - London.
by Adrian S Pye


TM5090 : Stench pipe in Chapel Lane, Carlton Colville by Adrian S Pye
It has obviously been repaired by the addition of a concrete collar instead of the usual cast iron base.
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5292 : Stench pipe in Bridge Road, Oulton Broad by Adrian S Pye
Made by Ham Baker & Co - Limited - Engineers - Westminster
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5293 : Stench pipe in Higher Drive, Oulton by Adrian S Pye
Half the height is concealed in the tree canopy
Made by Broad & Co - London
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5393 : Stench pipe failure in Kent Road, Lowestoft by Adrian S Pye
The cast iron pipe has been replaced by a plastic pipe held in by a blob of what appears to be putty, and does not comply with the regulations as it is only half the height it should be, reaching only the bedroom windows of the nearby houses (nice!?). The ridiculous cap on the top releases the stench in a downward direction. A man living a few doors away told me, "The old pipe was replaced about a year ago and this one stinks." It is a perfect example of stupidity and bad workmanship; moreover it isn't even exactly upright.
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5493 : Redundant stench pipe base in Avondale Road, Lowestoft by Adrian S Pye
The pipe has been removed and the base blocked with concrete.
It was made by Ham Baker & Co of Westminster.
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5494 : Stench pipe in St Margaret's Road by Adrian S Pye
The pipe retains its full height and was made by Ham Baker of Westminster.
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5392 : Stench pipe in Kirkley Run, Lowestoft by Adrian S Pye
Standing adjacent to the old railway crossing gate house it was made by Ham Baker of Westminster.
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5593 : Sewage works ventilation shaft by Adrian S Pye
The modern equivalent of the Victorian Stinker located east of the sewage treatment works and west of the outfall. TM5593 : Outfall at Lowestoft Ness
by Adrian S Pye
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TM5593 : Outfall at Lowestoft Ness by Adrian S Pye
The most easterly outfall pipe in the UK.
These days it is only clean, treated water that is discharged into the North Sea; whereas in the Victorian era raw sewage was poured out from this point.
by Adrian S Pye



These are just the ones I found still extant around Lowestoft.
Most towns had them at some time, those that still remain are a signpost to our Victorian past.


























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