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Octagonal Turbine House

Octagonal Sluice or Turbine House, Lea Bridge Weir (1876)

Octagonal Turbine House

Architectural Merit

In brick with dentil cornice of stone. Slate roof with metal finial and metal ridges. Stone or stucco mouldings to arched windows. Boarded windows and doors cannot be assessed. Two Concrete sluice channels travel beneath - mapping evidence refers to ‘turbines’ - probably waterwheels which may have acted as pumps to provide a local water supply water to Hackney.

Lea Bridge has been a site of waterworks possibly since Tudor times and certainly since the 1770s. The weir/lock at this point is a key element of this infrastructure. Whilst this is mostly of archaeological value, the remnants, in the form of the river, tributaries and the wider landscape, remain. The point at Lea Bridge, where the saline tidal Thames driving up the lea gives way to the freshwater river is a crucial geographical and hydrological moment.

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The building is ornate, not utilitarian in design and was clearly intended to display a degree of civic/municipal ambition.

In terms of architectural design and craftsmanship the building has a very strong presence with a picturesque or arcadian quality in the English landscape tradition.

The octagonal form point to ancient Greek building typologies specifically the ‘tower of the winds in ancient Athens, a form often adopted for garden lodges in English Country houses. The building, along with the Headquarters Building bears comparison with Chingford Mill Pumping Station Lower Hall Lane (Grade II) New River Head Headquarters 173-177, Islington, Kew Bridge waterworks and the former Coppermills, now Water Board stores.

Historical Association

The buildings on the site may possibly be associated with Charles Greaves, Engineer to the East London Waterworks from 1851-7I.

It is not clear if the sluice building relates only to the weir, to the Waterworks, or both. There are however, architectural similarities between the building and the adjoining engine houses on the Essex filter beds site.

If it is only related to the weir it is then related to the reconfiguration of the water courses by the newly established Lee Conservancy Board in response to flooding.

If it only relates to the waterworks then it marks the later phases of the development of the waterworks and is an important survival.

Group Value

Group value with the Headquarters buildings and remaining engine sheds.

The sluice building has strong group value with the adjacent headquarters building and the engine houses, the Lea Bridge weir and Essex filter beds and illustrates the episodic development of the water supply and treatment at Lea Bridge.

The sluice building has strong group value with the Lea Bridge weir and the start of the Hackney Cut.

The sluice building is constructed of a similar palette of materials to the two engine houses.


leabridge.org.uk December 2012
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