28 Jun London Underground Structural Repair at Embankment
Construction photography on the London Underground is not a straight forward process. Whilst I have a construction industry recognised CSCS Card for Health and Safety with twenty years experience in this field, I still had to go on a days course at the London Underground training centre for their own H&S course which was followed by an asbestos course.
Work on the Underground can only be undertaken during what they call engineering hours which is in the middle of the night when London is asleep. The time slot available is not actually that long, especially when possession of the track is often delayed and the track power cannot be isolated because of operational logistics.
My photographic commission was cancelled many times at last minute. But eventually we got the green light, only to find that a two hour delay prevented us again that particular night shift. A few cups of coffee and meeting the guys was good but at 2.30am we all went home.
The next time on site again in the early hours was successful. An hours delay this time wasn’t enough to force us to abort the night shift, but the guys didn’t have any time at all for me to set up some shots I was hoping for and had pre planned. So we just went it and I tried to get in the right place at the right time, was is often the way I have to work when time is money and these guys are on bonus I am sure!
The Contract involved the structural strengthening of 90 Victorian cast iron steel beams undertaken by Concrete Repairs Limitedcommissioned by LU Framework Contractor, Clancy Docwra. This part of the London Underground District Line is not far below ground level, running alongside the Thames under the Embankment road. Constructed using cut and cover method, the 90 cast iron beams support brickwork arched vaulting in between the beams which were generally found to be be in good condition.
The strengthening of the beams was undertaken to prevent any over-stressing of the old cast iron beams resulting from any increase loading. This involved the removal of any surface corrosion and then priming the steel beams. This is followed by the bonding of a Sika product, a ultra high modulus composite reinforcement to the underside of the primed steel beam.
During this particular time slot of engineering hours the guys task was to do one beam which had been prepared and primed the previous week. This obviously includes the protection, set up and removal of all equipment for the shift.
I like the two shots at the end, the one with all the guys on the shift on the Embankment District Line Station platform and Soloman, the guy on the phoning notifying that we had cleared the area. His total responsibility was our safety whilst we were all in the tunnel, one that he understandably took very seriously for which I thanked him.