Kew Bridge Steam Museum
Kew Bridge Steam Museum houses a museum of water supply and a collection of water pumping steam engines. The museum is an Anchor Point of ERIH, The European Route of Industrial Heritage. It is situated in Brentford by Kew Bridge on the River Thames in west London, England.

The 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, with the addition of more steam pumping engines as well as four Allen diesel pumps and four electric pumping sets. The steam engines were retired from service in 1944, although two were kept on standby up until 1958, when a demonstration run of the Harvey & Co. 100 inch engine marked the final time steam would operate at the site. The Metropolitan Water Board decided not to scrap the resident steam pumping engines and set them aside to form the basis of a museum display at a later date. This action bore fruit in 1973 with the formation of the Kew Bridge Engines Trust. Today the site remains an internationally-recognised museum of steam pumping engines as a reminder of the many pumping stations spread throughout London and the UK. In 1999, the United Kingdom government Department for Culture, Media and Sport described Kew Bridge as "the most important historic site of the water supply industry in Britain".{Listed Building Description TQ 1877 787/18/10064}

The museum houses the world's largest collection of Cornish beam engines, including the largest working beam engine, the Grand Junction 90 Engine, which has a cylinder diameter of 90 inches and was used to pump water to London for 98 years. This machine is over forty feet high and weighs about 250 tons. It was described by author Charles Dickens as 'a monster'. This engine is still steamed once a month for public viewing and additionally also for private parties. There are also several other large working Cornish beam engines, a triple-expansion engine and several rotative steam engines. In 2008, the museum completed the restoration of its Bull Engine, which is one of only four known examples in the world, and the only engine in its original location and still working. The Bull engine was built in 1856 and first steamed in restoration in 2006. One of the museum's Allen Diesel engines is also on display and operated most weekends subject to staffing levels.

The steam museum is home to London's only operating steam railway. The 2 ft (610 mm) gauge narrow gauge railway is run by volunteers of the museum and in 2009 saw the debut of the museum's new "Wren" class locomotive, "Thomas Wicksteed", following the departure of Hampshire Narrow Gauge Trust-owned Quarry Hunslet 'Cloister'. The line runs for 400 yards around the Kew Bridge site and passenger trains are operated on Sundays during the summer months also Bank Holiday Mondays and on other special days. The railway was inspired by similar facilities provided at major waterworks in the United Kingdom, notably the Metropolitan Water Board Railway between Hampton and the Kempton Park waterworks.

Special exhibitions take place on a number of weekends each year (see Official Website for details).

Other locations
A chimney-standpipe tower used to stand on top of Campden Hill in Kensington on the T-junction of Campden Hill Gardens and Aubrey Walk. Designed by the same architect it was visually almost identical to the Kew Bridge standpipe tower (which is only a standpipe tower, and not a chimney as well).

Use in television
The museum has been a filming location for episodes of TV serials including EastEnders, The Bill, Doctor Who ( Remembrance of the Daleks) and Industrial Age. As well as many music videos and feature films, including Jude Law's The Wisdom of Crocodiles, it was also used as the location for the 1991-1995 title sequence of the BBC music show Top of the Pops.


2 photos

Building Activity

  • removed a media
    about 6 years ago via