The Garchey refuse disposal system was an early system of collecting and destroying refuse in blocks of flats in the United Kingdom. It was first installed at the Quarry Hill flats in Leeds in the 1950s.

History and systemEdit

The system was invented by Frenchman Louis Garchey, after whom it was named, in 1927 for a large block of flats in Paris.

Various forms of refuse would be put into a bin beneath the kitchen sink, drenched with water to compact them together and then flushed down refuse chutes to a refuse station or to an incinerator. If they were sent to a refuse station, it would be vacuum-pumped into a retention vessel and transported to an incinerator. The refuse would be spun in the dryer to remove excess water and would then go into a furnace incinerator. Sometimes the heat would be used to heat water and the flats in the complex.

Housing complexes benefited from the system more than dry-chute methods as the water regularly cleaned the refuse chutes and pumps, removing any bod odour sources, unlike the dry chutes. Although, it was common for a blow-back to occur and gas to come out of the Garchey beneath the sink. This could be easily prevented just by flushing fresh water through the system.


Leeds City Council was the first British local authority to adopt the refuse system in its schemes, with the famous Quarry Hill flats being the first of their schemes to use it, as well as schemes such as Saxton Gardens. Although it was revolutionary, it was also complex and plagued with problems. In the Quarry Hill complex, it is considered a major factor in their demise. It was also installed in the Duddeston Four tower blocks in Birmingham, where it was also plagued with problems. New grinders were installed in the flats to help break down refuse before it went down the chutes to prevent blockages, and eventually the entire system was removed. A separate coal-fired boiler heated the flats in the complex, making the Garchey system relatively inefficient.

Today, there are only three working examples of the Garchey system in England, all in London; at the Barbican estate, Islington's Spa Green estate, and another estate in Enfield. The Garchey system at the Barbican estate in London has been documented in detail. Here, refuse is sent to one of 150 pits beneath complex, connected by 2 miles of tunnels. The original manufacturer was Matthew Hall Ltd. and the Barbican gave the maintenance contract to Linbrock and Sons who still do it. They make any parts that are needed. The Barbican's system is not used as much as before, with 600 of the original 2,100 Garcheys now removed. Despite this, it is still considered a valuable refuse disposal system. Changes in consumer packaging has also led to a reduction in usage as the original system was designed to manage bottles and tins, not modern plastic packaging which floats and blocks the pits and overflow pipes.

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