Clients of various BHT projects visited the captivating hidden depths of Brighton’s Victorian sewer network, which dates back to the mid-19th century and spans 44 miles.
Entering the system via Pier Arch 260, the group watched a short video about the sewer system before putting on hard hats, head torches and gloves and entering through a heavy, water-tight door into a safety passage. At the end of this tunnel we were able to look down to the East to West intercepting sewer; an egg-shaped chute designed to control water flow and break down solid matter.
Sand from the beach was used to cement together the red bricks which form the perfectly circular tunnels. Sewage was initially discharged into the sea, however after a campaign to build an intercepting sewer, waste water was taken out of town.
During the tour we descended down to the Overflow tunnel, which leads to an outfall on the Albion Groyne. In the 1990’s Europe’s largest storm water storage tank was constructed under Brighton beach. It is 3 miles long and a diameter large enough to drive a double-decker bus along the inside of the tank. The storm tunnel comes into use during extreme and prolonged weather, after which it is pumped back into the main sewer system.
Nowadays, all of the city’s sewage passes through the Peacehaven treatment facility which is hidden in a valley, out of sight.
At the end of the tour we switched on our head torches and walked single-file along a fascinating 200-yard stretch of the Overflow tunnel. At our feet, a small trickle of clean water ran along the length of the tunnel. We returned to ground level (and fresh air!) via a short vertical ladder which took us up through a man-hole cover in the Old Steine.