Kew Bridge Pumping Station was originally opened in 1838 by the Grand Junction Waterworks Company, following a decision to close an earlier pumping station at Chelsea due to poor water quality. In the years up to 1944 the site expanded, ultimately housing six steam pumping engines as well as four Allen diesel pumps and four electric pump sets. The steam engines were retired from service in 1944, although two were kept on standby until 1958, when a demonstration run of the Harvey & Co. 100 inch engine marked the final time steam power would pump drinking water at the site. The Museum houses the world's largest collection of Cornish cycle beam engines, including the largest working beam engine, the Grand Junction 90 inch, which has a cylinder diameter of 90 inches and was used to pump water to London for 98 years. This machine is over 40 feet high and weighs about 250 tons. It was described by Charles Dickens as "a monster". This engine is still steamed regularly for public viewing as well as for private parties. A Cornish engine is a type of steam engine developed in Cornwall, England, mainly for pumping water from a mine. It is a form of beam engine that uses steam at a higher pressure than the earlier engines designed by James Watt. The engines were also used for powering man engines to assist the underground miners' journeys to and from their working levels, for winching materials into and out of the mine and for powering the ore stamping machinery.
The Museum runs a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow-gauge railway which in 2009 saw the introduction of a new-build Wren Class steam locomotive, Thomas Wicksteed. The line runs for 400 yards around the Kew Bridge site and passenger trains are operated at weekends and on other special event days. Although not an original feature of the waterworks at Kew Bridge, the railway was inspired by similar facilities provided at major waterworks in the UK, notably the Metropolitan Water Board Railway that originally ran between Hampton and the Kempton Park waterworks. A small part of that railway, is now operated as the Kempton Steam Railway, comprising the only other site in London where rides can be taken on steam trains of such a large size. The Museum site contains a number of Grade I and Grade II listed buildings. The original engine house, home of the Bull, Boulton & Watt and Maudslay engines, was built in 1837 and is Grade I listed, as is the Great Engine House, housing the 90 inch and 100 inch engines, which was constructed in two parts in 1845 and 1869. The Boiler House, which now houses the rotative steam engines, was built in 1837, and along with the ancillary buildings and Gatehouse and Boundary Wall, is Grade II listed. The ancillary buildings, which include a fully working forge and belt driven workshop, are used by a number of independent artists and creatives. The Museum’s most striking feature is its 200 ft high Victorian standpipe tower. This is not a chimney stack; it houses two systems of vertical pipes through which water was pumped before it entered the mains water supply. The brick tower, of Italianate design, was constructed in 1867 to replace an earlier open metal lattice structure. Approximately 85% of the museum is accessible to wheelchair users via rising platform lifts. Access to the Boulton & Watt, Maudslay & Bull engines is via ramp or rising platform lift. Access to the 90 inch engine is via stair-climbing lift and ramp. Access to the waterwheel courtyard and Diesel House is via ramp or rising platform lift. There is a wheelchair accessible toilet in Stokers Café, which requires a Radar key which is held at the museum ticket office. Free Car Park. Free Wi-Fi.
Location : Green Dragon Lane, Brentford, London TW8 0EN
Transport: Gunnersbury (District Line then 237 or 267 bus). Kew Bridge (National Rail - South West Trains). London Buses routes 65 (Ealing to Kingston, 24hour), 237 (Hounslow to White City), 267 (Fulwell to Hammersmith), 391 (Richmond to Fulham) stop nearby.
Opening Times: Monday to Friday 11:00 to 18:00.
Saturday / Sunday 11:00 to 18:00
Tickets : Adults £11.50 Children £5.00
Concession / Senior £10.00 Under 5's Free
Tel: 020 8568 4757