Express & Star

Rare Victorian 'stink pipe' in Shifnal given special protected status

A rare Victorian 'stink pipe' in Shifnal has been given protected status.

A Victorian Stink Pipe in Church Walk, which is off Victoria Road in Shifnal, has been listed as Grade II by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport..

The sewer ventilation pipe - or stink pipe - in Shifnal has been listed at Grade II by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England, giving it greater protection and recognition.

The pipes were used to release gases from the sewers in Victorian Britain at a height that would stop the public from breathing them in.

They were modelled on the pipes widely used for London’s new sewers, which were installed in response to what was known as the ‘Great Stink’ when during the hot summer of 1858, the capital’s unpleasant sewage smell rose to an unbearable level.

It is thought that the Shifnal stink pipe was installed following the 1875 Public Health Act, when the town’s sewers were substantially upgraded.

Nationally, the pipes became obsolete due to advances in domestic and public sewage processing in the 20th century, and so very few remain.

Where they can be found, ventilation pipes are often cut in half and now resemble bollards, so Historic England say the survival of the full-height pipe in Shifnal is remarkable.

Aside from the rarity of its survival, the Shifnal pipe, located behind the Jaspers Arms pub, is ornately decorated, showing that it was designed to be seen in public and as more than a purely functional structure.

Hugh Shannon, Historic England Listing Advisor, said: “It is rare to find these pipes at their full height, and although it may seem to be a minor part of the local infrastructure, it is important for showing that there was great civic pride in creating public health improvements that benefitted the whole town.

Always made from cast iron and typically green or grey in colour, stink pipes - also named stench pipes or stench poles - often include plaques that display the names of their makers.

Regularly mistaken for street lamps, they are usually taller and wider than most other poles found on residential streets, and hollow.