July 27, 2015, by Kathryn Steenson
Papplewick Pumping Station
This summer is the 10th anniversary of the re-opening of the only surviving working Victorian pumping station in the Midlands, Papplewick Pumping Station.
In 1879, the Nottingham Waterworks Company built a reservoir near Papplewick, a small village just under 8 miles from Nottingham. Its purpose was to store water from Bestwood Waterworks to cope with demand from the rapidly-expanding population of Nottingham.
Shortly after, the responsibility for the water supply was taken over by the Corporation of Nottingham. In 1884, the Corporation completed construction of Papplewick Pumping Station. It was sited near to the reservoir, on land purchased from Andrew Montagu, owner of the 18th century country house Papplewick Hall.
The Pumping Station was designed by Marriott Ogle Tarbotton, former Borough Surveyor and Engineer for Nottingham. Manuscripts and Special Collections holds over 200 plans and other engineering drawings of the buildings, engines and pumping equipment at Papplewick Pumping Station, most of which relate to the original construction and pre-date 1920. The photographs here are taken from an album entitled ‘Nottingham Waterworks. Photos of Work in Progress‘ and includes several images of construction and repair work at Papplewick in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Construction cost about £55,000 (equivalent to £4.5 million today). Despite this expense, it actually came in slightly under budget, and there was enough money for elaborate decoration of the interior, as shown in the photograph of the Engine House below. The station was driven by two beam engines made by James Watt and Co. that required over 5 tons of coal a day to run. Each engine was capable of pumping 1.5 million gallons of water per year, supplying approximately 200,000 people and businesses.
Despite the many technological advancements since 1884, Papplewick Pumping Station’s steam-driven engines remained in service until 1969, when they were replaced by electric pumps to reduce running costs. The pumping station closed in 1973 and was replaced by a completely new electric pump house.
Within a few years, a charitable trust had been established to prevent the Pumping Station from falling into further disrepair, with a museum opening shortly after. In 2002 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded them a £1.6 million grant, allowing the extensive restoration work to be carried out, work which won the Brick Development Association’s award for Best Refurbishment and Renovation Project 2006. The Duke of Gloucester formally re-opened Papplewick Pumping Station in 2005.
The records relating to Papplewick Pumping Station are part of our collections of Water Records. These can be searched in our online catalogue and viewed in our Reading Room at King’s Meadow Campus. A small display of copies of some of the documents and photographs of the Pumping Station is currently in the Business Library on Jubilee Campus. For more information about Manuscripts & Special Collections please visit our website or follow us on Twitter @mssUniNott.