I just don’t know where to start with this. I thought when we did Weston Point back in May it was about the peak of ‘power station exploring’ for the year but after this place im not so sure. It all started with a recce on an interesting looking building, no real expectations, then it just kept coming!
Wikipedia can provide an overview of the history of the stations that have existed on this site and as you can see it states ‘All three have now been demolished’.. Well yes the boiler houses and turbine halls are long gone. The site is now in use for self storage depots and even the Barking Sunday market. HOWEVER as with many old CEGB sites all is most defiantly not lost!
Our initial port of call was the remaining yet derelict 33kv Substation. Its easy to spot being close the the road and fairly easily accessed being part of the market site rather then the container yard next door. Its not the only substation left on the site but it is the most obviously ‘derelict’ building. First trip was an evening recce. At first we were pleasantly surprised to find simply ‘something’ inside. The building was a true relic of the CEGB days with crazy enamel signs, a nice battery room and a very nice Mather and Platt sprinkler system still in situe. Poking around we had the first moment of epicness. Peering down through holes in the floor where cables once ran we were met with the warm glow of sodium light shining back up at us.. This place had tunnels! and what did we find on the wall? yep a bloody map of them!! (with access and egress points clearly marked no less!) of course it wasnt going to be that simple was it.. All access points were concreted. I scoured the floors of the building for hours before ‘epic moment number two’ reared is head and provided an ignorable distraction..
As we approached the end of the building i stepped outside and on the wall above, just about at the limit of my finger tip reach there was a door ever so slightly ajar. I strained to reach and getting my finger tips around the corner managed to swing it open. Two steps taken back, i fumble for the torch and without being too obvious shine it up though to doorway. We had found what we came for!!! CONTROL ROOOOOOM!!!!!
Next up was the control room and office block.. Now.. i hear what your saying! didnt we just have the control room?? well no.. you had A control room. Not THE control room. Now on the third visit. Remember that tunnel map from the first? Yep you probably noticed to too! ‘CONTROL ROOM AND OFFICE BLOCK’ well this was our next target and things started to get a little more tricky. This building was once the main entrance, offices and control room for the whole of A and B station not just a poncy little 33kv substation! you can imagine we were a little keen to see what was in there. Blocking our path was some kind of cockney pikey death gauntlet of men in transit tippers and barky illegal dog breeds. Verdict. Not do able in the daytime, not if you value your health anyway! First we tired asking, didn’t work, man just let us look through the window at the tantalising ceiling! Going at dawn was the only real way to get a decent look and a decent set of pictures but it didn’t leave much of a window. By now it was late October and the clocks were about to change giving that valuble extra hour of daylight that was needed to get in, explore and get out before the men arrived and blocked my escape.
Back to that very first trip again and THAT map. I had one more idea how we could access these tunnels and it only bloody worked! Talk about the Barking Catacombs! The whole site is hollow! We spent hours exploring. Take the tunnel, come up against a brick wall, work your way around, carry on exploring, reach the next bricked up door or whatever, find a way around, keep going. Pics really dont do the maze much justice.. The desired destination was the Thames cable tunnels but so far they seem elusive. We were way off our map so flying a bit blind but it seemed as if the network had been quite well sealed in that sort of direction. Eventually we ended up under the live 132kv substation ‘C’ and were met with several anti pikey measures that prompted us to GTFO!