Farewell, Tunnel Refineries

Nearly gone. The Tunnel Refineries silos, which stood over the Greenwich riverside for decades, and pumped out a distinctive whiff over the area, are now reduced to stumps. Latterly known as Amylum, Tate and Lyle, and Syral, the plant closed in September 2009 with the loss of 150 jobs.

I wandered over to the Isle of Dogs on a drizzly Saturday to get that photo, but a team has been documenting its demolition over the past few weeks and would like to speak to people who worked there. A few have commented on my previous post on Tunnel Refineries, and there’s been a steady stream of visitors to this blog from search engines who have been looking for information. If you are a former Tunnel Refineries worker and would like to find out more about this project, drop Mary Mills a line at the Greenwich Industrial History Society and she’ll pass your details on.

Ever wondered what the view was like from the top of the silos? One cheeky rascal found out and stuck some spectacular photos on urban exploration forum 28 Days Later. Oblivion State has some other photos from inside the site during the early states of demolition. And in case you haven’t seen them yet, here’s some incredible photos of the peninsula in the 1980s courtesy of The Greenwich Phantom.

Who knows? We might even get some of our riverside path back soon…


  1. My dad worked on the building of these towers and I was taken up as a lad to see the view when they were close to completion. They were using an open air “bucket lift” that ran on a track up the side of the tower. It could only be operated from the bottom so you needed someone on hand to see you out at the top to return the bucket. One very foggy morning, my Dad went up with a couple of others and they were quickly out of sight of the operator at the base. On arrival at the top, the first two guys clamboured out and my Dad had his hand on the rim when one of the guys he was working with pressed the button to signal to the operator that the bucket was ready to come down. The operator was desperate for a cuppa and was awaiting the light. As soon as he saw it he pressed for the bucket to come down and my dad was suddenly left like a dead weight against it’s side as the bucket disappeared into the fog. His colleagues tried desperately to haul him up but is was 17 stones and he was unable to get enough purchase on the side to get up. Eventually he fell and thought he was a dead man but he dropped “thirty or forty” feet and landed in the bucket. I believe things got a little heated at the bottom.

  2. Did you know that Denis thatcher was part of tunnel refineries and that they produced all of their own electricity and even sold the excess to the national grid

  3. My dad worked for T.Refineries for over 40 years and was so dedicated to his job I don,t think he ever had any time of sick,even when he was feeling a bit below par. Known by all that knew him as Chalkie the pan man,,or Bill White..He is no longer with us and neither is the factory,sad but time marches on,

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