Categories
Miscellany

Kempton Water Works steam engines

With England v Ireland rugby at 14:30, I had a dilemma, I wanted to go and take a look at the Kempton Steam Museum where the engines would be running, but I also wanted to get a walk in, all of which would take place near Twickenham. I took s look at the maps and it would be a bit of a challenge.

When I woke up in the morning the decision was made for me, the mini-beast from the east had arrived and it was snowing and there was a bitter wind to go with it. Sid the walk I would drive to the museum and then get back in time for the rugby.

Kempton’s pair of triple-expansion steam engines were at the cutting edge of water pumping technology when they were installed in 1927-28 to supply 39 million gallons of water to North London. The demand for water in London ramped up after WW1, and was the reason for building the twin triple steam engines to pump water, into the local reservoirs. Later steam turbines were added rather than a third triple engine.

The pumps finally closed down in 1980 and were declare of national importance by English Heritage, an army of volunteers restored them and the building reopened with one working engine in 1984 when HRH Prince of Wales reopened the place.

I arrive at just about 10:30 the opening time of the museum, parking was under the M3. Entrance was £7 and included a free optional guided tour of the non-working engine. The workshop by engine would be steamed up for 30 minutes once an hour. The engines are very big, in fact massive and they dominate the left and right end of the building, they are as tall as the building which makes sense as the building was built to house them. The spectator area is about a their of the way up the building and a balcony all the way round over looked a large pot of an area which contains large values and pipes.

I had a good look around the exhibition of unusual stuff, ranging from measuring equipment if all sorts, radios, computers and loads of other interesting junk. I grabbed a coffee and coconut cake from the cafe, while I waited for the steam up to start and then the tour. The tour was very good in a group of eight we got right up close to the machinery on all the 4 levels of gangways around the engine. It took about an hour and a half, and I left soon after to get back for the rugby.