These peculiar concrete remains are located in the wooden area west of the current sewage works, just north of the waterline. We came across the mysterious ruins for the first time in early 2013, and they were indeed quite impressive! It was a privilege to be the first to photograph the construction although it wasn’t until after visiting that we realised their use as a sewage works thanks to the help of http://www.benfleethistory.org.uk. We had initially set out to find some Victorian explosives magazines rumoured to still exist, and initially believed these to be them. However, we later realised this was not the case and we would not actually find the nearby explosives magazines until three years later.
What do we know about the works’ past?
Little is known about the sewage works’ history, although we do know that it would have predated the current very large sewage complex just east of this structure. Judging by the concrete ruin’s slate and terracotta brick details, and the fact that it is not recorded on 1919 maps, suggest it was probably constructed during the 1920s. Yet another sewage works containing tanks and other vessels was built south of the railway near Jotman’s farm, on the opposite side of the path this structure was found on. This was said to have dated later than these remains, so perhaps a sewage works was built in the mid-20th Century between the lifespan of this works and the current complex. Alternatively, it could have been a now-demolished continuation of the original sewage works seen here. We do know that these sewage works did have several overflow and settlement pits on the other side of the adjacent unmade road. The site would have still been active during the 1930s and became a popular area for mischievous children to play, although we know that it had become ruined by the 1960s and 1970s thanks to locals’ recollections; see http://www.benfleethistory.org.uk/page_id__674.aspx. A 1959 map (pictured) shows the rectangular enclosure with two round pits or tanks immediately to the west of it.
For those interested, right is footage of the sewage works from our 2013 adventure. Remember this is not anywhere near the standard of our recent documentaries although it is provided for those who may find it useful.