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Limehouse accumulator tower

Limehouse accumulator tower

Limehouse Basin, Mill Place

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Hydraulic power for a canal dock
Limehouse accumulator tower

An octagonal tower dating from 1869 which regulated one of the first hydraulic power systems.

View from Limehouse accumulator towerA hydraulic system was installed at the Regent's Canal Dock at Limehouse to drive cranes, capstans and lock gates. This was in the days before electricity was available to drive motors.
Hydraulic systems use a liquid under pressure to drive machines. In the nineteenth century a central pumping station with steam engines kept the system topped up with water under pressure. A weight-loaded accumulator was used to regulate the pressure.
Up the middle of the accumulator tower was a huge iron cylinder. Inside the cylinder a piston loaded with 80 tons of gravel pressed down on a reservoir of water.
None of this works any more and a spiral staircase cuts through the cylinder leading to a public viewing gallery. The view from the gallery includes the railway viaduct built in 1839-40 which now carries the Doclands Light Railway.

Submitted by: Andrew Hunt, 22 January 2007

Find out what Wikipedia has to say about hydraulic accumulators which are still used in modern systems - but are now usually based on compressed gas rather than a raised weight.
Find out how hydraulic machines work.

See also: Fuels and energy

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City sponsors:
ASE London Region
Nuffiled Curriculum Centre