Kew Bridge Steam Museum
At midday on
Saturday 8 April several club members met at the Rose and Crown on Kew
Green for lunch. This was followed by Richard, Pat and Mike heading off
to the Kew Bridge Steam Museum, while everybody else went to Kew
Gardens. Now I'm hoping one of that group wrote something about 'the
gardens' because the rest of this piece is about the interesting part
of the day.
The 'steam' museum is located in the historical premises
of the former Grand Junction Water Works Company which derives its name
from the Grand Junction Canal which joined the Thames at Kew. Pumping
at Kew commenced in 1838 and continued until 1944 when electric
technology was installed, making the steam engines redundant.
At full capacity the Kew Bridge pumping station supplied 30 million
gallons of water every day to its delivery area which extended from
Sunbury to Kensington. The water was first pumped to reservoirs at
Campden Hill before being pumped to individual streets. In its heyday,
around 1900, eight engines and 18 boilers were in operation. The site
is still owned by Thames Water Plc who lease it to the Kew Bridge
Engines Trust and Water Supplies Museum which is a registered charity.
The museum is housed in a unique collection of Grade I and II listed
buildings. They include the original engine rooms, boiler rooms and
outbuildings. The tall tower is not, as many people think, a chimney
stack, but a standpipe tower soaring 197ft. into the air. Its viewing
gallery, right at the top, is occasionally open to the public.
won't bore you by talking about the exhibits, other than to say it is a
remarkable collection of steam and diesels engines. Most work and, with
the exception of the Boulton & Watt and Maudslay beam engines, are
run during opening hours. The beam engines are so expensive to run they
are only used a few times a year. Nowadays all the museums steam is gas
heated and with the rising costs machinery running is rotated. What
else can I say, other than, the next time it pours with rain and you're
wondering what to do, take yourself off to the Kew Bridge Steam Museum,