This is one of a series of posts exploring some of the more obscure parts of London and their past. Some of the photographs will appear in my 2022 calendar which will shortly be on sale. Click here for more information and check back to see when the calendar is available.
Markfield Park is a former sewage and water treatment works. It is now a living work of art with a working beam engine.
The north London area of Tottenham, where it is located, was rapidly expanding in the first half of the nineteenth century and there was an urgent need to deal with human waste (most of it was running into the nearby River Lea). In 1849 work began on the sewage treatment site. It was a private venture and when the owner died in 1858 it was left to decay and sewage once more began running into the River Lea, the main source of water for the local population. It is suggested that up to 4000 people were killed as a result of the poor quality of the water.
A new sewage works was built in the 1880s and remained in use until the 1960s.
The site was taken over by the local council as a park. It includes the working beam engine that would have pumped the sewage and a legal graffiti site on the walls of the old channels and tanks where the water used to run.