Tuesday, 24 May 2016

135 years of soap and sewage!

Out for a walk we arrive at a small marina just before we reach the junction of the Rivers Brent and Thames.  We’ve walked this way a few time before but I’d not noticed it’s name before ...
It’s in quite a pretty setting
You can see middle left the stainless steel structure which we look out for on our way off the Thames onto the approach to the Grand Union Canal
It’s called Soaphouse Wharf and is on  Souphouse Creek.

The name fascinated me so off I go to the internet again!

The Thames Soapworks existed in Brentford from 1799 to 1934 trading as T B Rowe Ltd. initially.  A corner property on Town Meadow (still in existence today as 60 High Street) was initially purchased expanding to include Ferry Road, and doubling its size to include Parkers Wharf (later renamed at Soaphouse Creek) in 1806.  The soapworks was acquired by Lever Brothers in 1916  and operated from there until it closed down when the manufacture of soap moved elsewhere.

Close-up of underwater scenes cut-out on the steel sculpture at the embankment...
… from where we could see Kew Gardens across the River Thames.
As we walked back towards the town demolition was going on alongside some rather interesting buildings
Brentford Sewage Station, engine shed and house designed by F C Lacey, surveyor in 1883.  He lived at 62 High Street (next door to the Rowes family who owned the soapworts). (more info here)

Lacy also designed the ‘sludge pressing works’ in Brentford although I can’t find any further information regarding these works.  Apparently sewage sludge could be recycled for manure and brick making as it contained a lot of clay and chalk! 
The pumping station was built at a time when there was a desperate need to improve the sewage system of the metropolitan areas of London.

Not surprisingly, the road leading from the pumping station is called …. (drum roll) …. Pump Alley!

Monday, 23 May 2016

The delivery … so check your life jackets!

A week or so ago I was reading Indigo Dream’s information regarding travelling on the River Thames, (some really good stuff on here, tide tables/heights from Brentford and all sorts of useful info). Anyway I read about the importance of checking all your equipment before going onto the river including your life jackets which I have to admit had never occurred to us and we had no idea what needed too be checked until I researched the internet to find out. There’s lots of information out there and demonstrations on youtube.

There are two elements to the equipment in life jackets, the water sensor with pull cord and the charger which is the cylinder containing pressurised gas to inflate the jacket.  There was lots of information and videos on u-tube explaining much better than I can about how to test these elements and replace them if necessary.

When we checked ours we were mortified! We have four onboard and all of them were out of date (we thought that if they’d not been used in anger they were good to go). 

The water sensors are dated and when new should have up to 6-years ‘use by’ dates on them.  Two of ours went out of date in 2012 which would only have been a couple of years after buying them!  The other two expired in 2013.  As I say I was mortified.

**A lesson here that perhaps other boaters don’t realise.  When you buy a new life jacket always check that the water sensor has a decent date and the red pull cord is properly fitted.

We realised that when we purchased both sets there must only have been a couple of years on them before they expired, not that we’d have realised that it could have been much longer, but now we know!

So then we set about finding where to buy them, but more importantly, and much more difficult was how we would get them to us before we ventured onto the River Thames. 

Martha, the sales assistant at Marine Warehouse was very helpful but couldn’t ship the replacement water sensors directly to us as we hadn’t got an address near to where we were at the time or near Brentford where we were then heading.

These items can also be purchased from the likes of Amazon and E-bay at a slightly reduced cost than Marine Warehouse but they still come from Marine Warehouse as the seller on both web sites and we still needed to overcome the problem of not having a delivery address.

I had contacted the Post Office in Brentford and they did not offer the Post Restante service in fact they had no idea what we were talking about!  There’s a Parcel Hero office at Brentford by the water points so we called there too but they don’t actually take delivery there either and the system to use them as a carrier was far too complicated for us.  Once we ordered them we needed to know exactly where and when they would arrive.

In the end we asked our son who works in London if we could send them to his home address and he would bring them to us the next time he was working down here so that was the delivery we had last week.  

I know you were expecting something spectacular and special, sorry about that, but it was very important!

So, four sensors safely in our possession; how do we change them?

Try this one      or       this one 

 - these are the two different types that we have onboard Still Rockin’.  

Once we’d replaced the out of date sensors George actually tested them by submerging them in water - two worked and two didn’t but one of the ones that failed did work when he pulled the cord and one didn’t work at all!  There’s a salutary lesson to be learned there, it could have been disastrous.