Not just another pumping station but a transport museum. Currently undergoing more refurbishment this will become a great attraction if properly funded. The area now occupied by the Museum formed part of Low Hall Farm and was purchased from the Bosanquet family in 1875 by Walthamstow Urban District Council in order to build a sewage pumping works. But as far back as the fourteenth century, the two hundred acre site had been home to a moated country house, Low Hall Manor, which gave its name to the farm which subsequently developed. Although the site is therefore of considerable antiquity, today nothing remains above ground of the seventeenth century manor house (itself a successor to the mediaeval building) and farm as they were both completely destroyed by a flying bomb in 1944. The Pump House building was constructed of yellow London stock brick with blue engineering bricks around the doors and windows. The two Hayward Tyler steam pumps that moved the effluent were situated in a pit at the front end of the building (this pit was filled in during the 1970s and has now been partially excavated). The steam for these was generated by two boilers situated in the left bay. Accommodation for the chief engine room attendant was provided in No. 1 Farm Cottages in Acacia Road at a rent of 10/- per week. It is recorded in the Council’s minutes of 1885 that Tangyes of Birmingham also installed a single horizontal engine at a cost of £420 which was situated next to the pit. However, what this engine was for remains a mystery despite extensive research. It should be noted that the Pumphouse did not form part of Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s celebrated London sewerage system, which was built under the Metropolitan Board of Works Scheme.
Walthamstow and the Lea Valley has been closely associated with the development of transport in London. The museum gives a fascinating insight into the role played by the area. Arthur Salisbury-Jones, who was a member of the Stock Exchange, had an idea of starting a large-scale motorbus company to serve London’s commuters, which if successful, he would expand to cover the whole of Britain. In 1905 he launched the London Motor Omnibus Company, which was so successful that other bus companies were quickly introduced to the metropolis. By the middle of 1907, Salisbury-Jones had over three hundred passenger-carrying vehicles on London’s roads. At the onset, Salisbury-Jones recognised that to achieve his aims and objectives, he would need to control closely the manufacture and design of his vehicles. This he did by forming the Motor Omnibus Company in 1905 and in the following year a small tin hut was rented out in Hookers Lane, Walthamstow, London. Initially, parts were purchased from a range of outside contractors to be assembled into vehicles. However, by 1907, a new 30,000 square foot factory was opened at Hookers Lane, which brought in-house much of the work provided previously by outside suppliers. By the following year the factory had doubled in size and the workforce had increased from six in 1906 to over five hundred and seventy. There are numerous examples of both rail and road transport to explore. The museum is wheelchair accessible (but not all the exhibits). There are toilet facilities for the disabled. There are touch tours for the visually impaired. The museum is entirely run by accommodating volunteers.
Location : The Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum, 10 South Access Road, Walthamstow, E17 8AX.
Transport: St James Street (Overground - Lea Valley Line). London Buses route W19 stops outside the Museum.
Opening Times: Sunday 11:00 to 16:00.
Tickets : Free (donations welcome).
Tel: 020 8521 1766