Next month, four of London’s magnificent sewage and water pumping stations will be opened to the public for free tours, and tickets to go to three of them will be released this coming Monday (8th August). There’s also a chance to go inside the former boardroom of the New River company, built in the 17th century and still in its original splendour.

Very nicely, the tours are spread out over a couple of weeks, so it’s quite possible to visit all of them in turn for a rare glimpse behind the ornate facades at the machines that keep London’s water and sewage flowing beneath our feet.

In date order…

The Western Pumping House

Friday 9th September 10am to 3pm

Grosvenor Road, Pimlico, SW1

Western Pumping Station is a key part of London’s wastewater drainage system. It was built over 150 years ago in Pimlico and was part of a radical overhaul of the sewer system by Joseph Bazalgette.

Ian has visited.

Booking opens on Mon 8th August here

Western Pumping House (c) Thames Water


Abbey Mills Pumping Station

Sat & Sun 10th-11th and Sat & Sun 17th-18th September 10am to 4pm

Abbey Lane,  West Ham, E15

Abbey Mills Pumping Station (Pumping Station A), which is now Grade II*, is central to the sewerage system created across London by Joseph Bazalgette in the mid-19th century. Built to lift sewage from the low-lying sewers, it collects a huge amount of the capital’s wastewater, transferring it to our northern outfall sewer and on to Beckton STW. It has a very elaborate design with many interesting features including the recently restored interior paintwork scheme.

Ian has visited.

Booking opens on Mon 8th August here

Abbey Mills Pumping Station (c) Thames Water


Streatham Pumping Station

Friday 16th and Saturday 17th September 11am-4pm

Conyers Road, Lambeth, SW16

The very first pumping station was constructed in 1881 and housed in a corrugated iron shed. The location was chosen primarily because of the huge underground reservoir 1,000ft below the site, but also because of its rural location and closeness to the railway line. This allowed easy transportation of coal to power the pumps needed to bring water to the surface.

In 1894 the Streatham Pumping station was built by the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company, to serve the rapidly expanding suburb of Streatham.

Booking opens on Mon 8th August here

Streatham Pumping Station (c) Thames Water


King George V Pumping Station

Saturday 17th September 10am to 4pm

Swan & Pike Road, Enfield, EN3

Booking is NOT needed for this one

Designed to pump water from the River Lee into the King George V reservoir, the building houses three old disused gas Humphrey pumps, and two electric pumps currently in service. The buildings in the complex were opened in 1913 and were designed by William Booth Bryan for the Metropolitan Water Board.

The pumps, the invention of H A Humphrey, dispensed with the usual pistons, flywheels etc. and were provided with their momentum by the free movement or oscillation of water between pump and tower. They are the first example of their type in the world. They were used up until the late 1960s when they were replaced by electric pumps.

Details here

King George V Pumping Station (c) Thames Water


Also…

Oak Room, New River Head

Sunday 11th and Saturday 17th September 10am-4pm

Rosebery Avenue, Clerkenwell, EC1R

Formerly the boardroom of the 17C water house, the Oak Room is a fine late Renaissance room demonstrating the New River Company’s wealth. 1697 carved oak interior, attributed to Grinling Gibbons, including over-mantel and panels over the doors.

Booking opens on Mon 8th August here

Oak Room, New River Head (c) Thames Water


And regularly open to the public are:

Crossness Engines

London Museum of Water and Steam

Kempton Steam Museum

Markfield Beam Museum

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4 comments
  1. Derek Smith says:

    what about Abbey Mills ?
    Its a must see

  2. Derek Smith says:

    sorry I see its on
    Thank you

  3. Bryan J delos Santos Moon says:

    What about the ones in Kingston, do you have any plans for them as l can see a lot of construction work going on?

    • James Scantlebury says:

      Ianvisits isn’t Thames Water, this post is about tours of pumping stations. Probably best you ask Thames Water instead.

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