This book does exactly as described in the product description; it focuses on how the installation of Bazalgette's new drainage system for London was planned and presented and how the massive project was received by the newspapers of the time. By virtue of a detailed examination of the cast iron work and general designs employed the author ascribes much of the architecture of the Crossness and Abbey Mills pumping stations to the architect Charles Henry Driver, rather than to Bazalgette himself.
Much of the contents of the book are based on extensive research undertaken for a Ph.D. thesis completed by Dobraszczk in 2006. The book is written in a lucid and entertaining style and contains many interesting illustrations from Bazalgette's original plans and from contemporary issues of The Illustrated London News. A viewpoint of the story often overlooked by other writers is that there was substantial and sustained opposition to Bazalgette's drainage scheme and that, somewhat surprisingly, this came from the `environmental' lobby who were keen to recycle sewerage for use in the numerous market gardens that surrounded London.
Despite the excellence of the book it should be said that it will be of most interest to architects, architectural historians and serious students of the Victorian period. It is perhaps too detailed for the general reader for whom `The Great Stink of London' by Stephen Halliday (1999) may be a better buy.
on 26 January 2010
Into the belly of the beast is a rare pleasure within books on subterranean London and Victorian architecture in that is combines real academic meat, in an easily readable manner, with extensive and sumptuous illustrations. Thus the book can be equally enjoyed as a visual feast or read as a continuous narrative. Paul Dobraszczyk shows us the unexpected fact that the methods of describing and drawing these vast underground spaces at the time of their inception were not the disinterested studies we might expect, but hint at wider aspirations of the Victorian age which he further illuminates in his description of their most noticeable architectural expression, the great pumping stations. An essential addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in London or Victorian architecture and engineering.
on 20 January 2010
This highly readable account of one of Londons great Victorian engineering feats, chronicles the development of 82 mile sewer system completed in the 1860s by the Victorian genius Joseph Bazalgette.
Dr Dobraszczyk's use of contemporary maps, engineering plans, illustrations from the press and colour photographs illuminates this hidden wonder.
In it he explores with great clarity the surveying, design, building and grand opening of its construction. In particular he looks at how Victorian Londoners (including the press, general public and engineers) viewed it - Was it a hidden monstrosity or was it viewed as something to celebrate ?
The section on the architectural embellishment of the pumping stations is of great appeal to specialists and non-specialist alike. In it he explores the influence on continental (especially Venetian)style not only on the exterior brickwork and stone but also the amazing metalwork interior. Dr Dobraszczyk has also identified these features in numerous contemporary structures, a credit to his meticulous research of Victorian London.
This book will be of interest not only to specialist art-historians, students of architecture, engineers, building material specialists and historians but to the general public. It is a very enjoyable and informative read. Highly recommended.