Underground Support


Driving the 1st Pile at Thamesmead

Both Venice and Thamesmead share the distinction of being towns on stilts, though the materials used up to 1000 years apart are different. The 16th century stone Rialto Bridge in Venice for example was built on Alder Wood footings that are still in excellent condition. Some of the timber sampled in a recent survey dated to 900-960ad.

The 20th century construction of Thamesmead’s tower blocks however, demanded a different solution in similarly marshy ground and was provided by West’s Shell Piling system. 

This photo was published in the Daily Telegraph on 16th March 1967, when the then Minister for Housing Mr Greenwood turned up to drive the very first pile for one of the original 13 storey towers – though I am not sure which one was built first in TM Stage 1. According to the New Civil Engineer magazine for March 1999, they drove over 260,000 pilings in Thamesmead, using 30 rigs.


Piling Advertising sourced by Steve Mace, a friend who worked on heavy plant maintenance in Thamesmead in the 1970s.


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