From Thames To Eternity Stone Reuse Project
Post date: 07 Sep, 2023
Thames To Eternity - The Project
you have been travelling in and around London recently, you may have
spotted these beauties adorning the streets. These large blocks of
stone - 58 in total, are part of the From Thames To Eternity project, a
temporary stone reuse project
by Matthew Barnett Howland and Oliver Wilton from University College
London and CSK Architects.
project aims to stimulate discussion about material lifespan and
reuse as the city endeavours to achieve its goals for a sustainable,
net-zero City by 2040. As an art installation, it encourages
Londoners and visitors alike to slow down. To take a break and enjoy
London's public spaces whilst celebrating the role of stone in the
development of one of the world's oldest great cities.
Photo credit: ©Clive Totman 2023
weigh around 1 tonne each and have lived for the last 150 years as
part of the Victoria embankment river wall. In the early 19th
century, untreated sewage and industrial effluent flowed directly
into the Thames, causing disease and an unbearable smell exacerbated
by the hot summer weather in 1858. The event in 1858 was dubbed 'The
Great Stink'. Joseph Bazalgette, a civil engineer, put forward a
proposal to fix the problem, a London sewer system. Parliament
accepted the proposal, and by 1875, works were complete, with over
1,000 miles of sewers and many thousands of granite stones.
Construction of The Thames Embankment: The Illustrated London News 4 February 1865; p. 112; Issue 1300 This copy: http://www.iln.org.uk/iln_years/year/1865.htm
From the Thames to...
Due to the
growth in population over the last century, these sewers are unable
to cope, and so the construction of the new Thames Tideway Tunnel is
underway, and this is where CED Stone's involvement began.
As part of
the works, a few stretches of the river wall are being renewed, and
CED Stone Group Chairman Michael Heap, was approached to discuss the
matching and sourcing of new stone for the Super Sewer design. As
part of that discussion Michael enquired what was to happen to the
original blocks being removed. At that point there was no plan, and
they were moved into storage in Dartford by the Tideway project team. Whilst in storage, CED Stone Group, amongst others, were tasked with finding a use for the blocks.
Asked to identify the individual granites that formed the
stones, our resident geologist noted three different sources; A
silver Cornish granite, a pink Scottish granite, and a few dark grey
granite blocks from Wales. Whilst in storage, CED Stone Group,
amongst others, were tasked with finding a use for the blocks.
stones were stored in Dartford for a time, until the storage facility
unfortunately closed. We then arranged storage at a site in Tilbury,
and it is here that the stones were selected for the City of London
Working The Stone
an incredibly durable material, and as such, these stones could last
for thousands of years and used in countless future projects within
the city. The architects decided not to cut the blocks down, which
may have made re-use easier but would have reduced the potential for
their use in the future, but the stones had to be cleaned and made
destined for the streets of London were stored in our West Thurrock
yard and prepped at our Bespoke Masonry Centre there. Richard, our
stone mason, worked each block individually. Most were
sandblasted on the rough top face, with the sandblasting gradually
getting fainter as you move down the block until completely
untouched. This shows the original masonry residue and history of the
also worked a few "map" blocks. These were the exception,
laid the opposite way up to show the flat face that would have stuck
out into the Thames. Only the sides of these blocks were sandblasted,
the top surface remains in its original state, showing the tide marks
caused by the Thames.
Where are they now
be found at seven sites across the city; Sermon Lane, Carter Lane
Gardens, St Paul's Cathedral, Christ Church Greyfriars, King Edward
Street, St Bartholomew's Hospital and Smithfield Rotunda Garden,
with information boards at each location.
No foundations were required for the installation by contractor FM Conway,
the stones simply rest on the ground, or are supported on reclaimed
oak frames. This makes relocation of the stones easy, and the sites
remain as they were before installation.
From Thames to Eternity project is also part of this month's London Design Festival, with a guided walk and symposium taking place on the 21st of September. The event is free, and you can reserve tickets here.
MD Giles Heap comments,
It has been a real privilege to be involved
in this project, and we are delighted that as a direct result of this
initiative the stones will have a more permanent home after the
projects end in the King Edward Square public realm project.
history and stories that those old stones could tell is something we
need to preserve and learn from, and CED will continue to be at the
forefront for finding sustainable uses for old stone wherever