Have your say on shaping the City Corporation’s priorities
From the Thames to Eternity installation
From the Thames to Eternity is a temporary stone re-use project repurposing 58 granite stones removed from Joseph Bazalgette’s 19th century Thames river wall at Victoria Embankment.
The idea behind the project is to stimulate discussion about reuse, material lifespan and cultural heritage, at a time when we can make a significant contribution to a more sustainable built environment.
The stone simply rest on the ground, with some supported on reclaimed oak frames, and no foundations. You can find the stones across seven sites in the City: from the River Thames up to Smithfield Market.
The stone's history
The story of these granite stones starts with the Great Stink in 1858. Untreated sewage and industrial effluent flowing straight into the Thames was causing disease and a truly unbearable smell.
Parliament accepted Joseph Bazalgette’s proposal for a London sewer system that moved the effluent east to outfalls outside of London. This was a huge project involving over 1,000 miles of sewers. As a part of the works, three stretches of embankment were built on the Thames to accommodate the Low Level Sewer.
Completed in 1875, the embankment river wall was built from many thousands of granite stones, sourced from quarries across the UK, mainly in Scotland and Cornwall.
Today, with the London population reaching over eight million people, the sewers are unable to cope and to help increase capacity, the Thames Tideway Super Sewer is being constructed beneath the Thames.
To help the connection between the old and the new sewer, a few sections of river wall are being removed.
The stones: their future
Weighing around one tonne each, the stones come from the Victoria Embankment, they have been gifted by Westminster City Council, assisted by Tideway.
Granite is particularly durable, and these stones could last for thousands of years and contribute to dozens of buildings and structures over this time.
Cutting them in smaller pieces would have made their re-use easier but this would have reduced their potential for a broader range of further uses in the future. So we took the decision not to cut them into smaller sizes.
Instead, we cleaned them and made them safe for public use and great care has been taken to display all aspects of their history – the geological character of the raw stone, the mortar that held them together as an embankment wall, and the tide marks from the Thames.
At the end of this project the stones will be re-used in the permanent King Edward Square public realm project. The opportunity to use the stones for this long-term use came about as a direct result of our temporary re-use project.
Download the full story
From the Thames to Eternity is a City of London Corporation temporary stone re-use project designed by Matthew Barnett Howland, Oliver Wilton, and CSK Architects.
With thanks to Tideway, CED Stone, Tenon, Westminster City Council, FM Conway and St Paul’s Cathedral.