interiorPapplewick Pumping Station



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Papplewick Pumping Station is one of the finest surviving Victorian waterworks in the UK and the only fully restored and working one in the Midlands.  Built in the early 1880s, Papplewick was part of a scheme to provide water for the rapidly expanding city of Nottingham.  The station was officially reopened after extensive restoration work in June 2005, by HRH the Duke of Gloucester. exterior
sandstone The pumping house drew water from a 200 foot deep well leading from an artesian supply in the local Bunter sandstone beds by working a pair of beam engines. The water was stored in a nearby covered reservoir with a capacity of 1.5 million gallons. The brick vaulted reservoir was designed by Thomas Hawkesley and completed ahead of the pumping station. It had to be closed in 1906 when it developed cracks and was later replaced by a concrete structure.
The beam engines were built by the famous engineer James Watt and bear a plaque stating “James Watt & Co Late Boulton and Watt, London and Soho Birmingham 1884. They are thought to be among the last that Watt built.watt plaque flywheel The 140 horse power engines are a magnificent example of Victorian engineering and feature two of Watt’s key inventions.They are both fitted with rotary governors and Watt’s patented three link parallel motion gear that converts the arc movement of the end of the beam into straight movement to drive the pump pistons.
They were installed at a cost of £5,525 each, part of a £55,000 bill for the whole pumping station. In use they had a steam pressure of 50lbs per square inch although they are now operated at around 25lbs per sq in. The 24 ton flywheels have a 20ft diameter and the beams are 25 feet long and weigh 13 tons. Each engine has a daily pumping capacity of 1,500,000 gallons.

The engines were powered by six Manchester boilers built by W & J Calloway and Sons. The original hearths exist in some of the boilers but others have been replaced.  During regular operation the boilers were fired up three at a time so that continuous power and maintenance could be carried out.

boiler front
robey engine








The boilers were fuelled by coal from nearby Linby Colliery and the steam-powered winding gear that hauled coal from the pit can still be seen on site. The winding engine was built by Robey and Co of Lincoln in 1922 and was in use until December 1982 when it was replaced by an electric engine.

In 1880 responsibility for Nottingham’s water supply was taken on by the Nottingham Corporation Water Department and engineer Marriott Ogle Tarbotton (1835-1887) recognised the urgent need for additional water sources to meet demand.  Tarbotton was responsible for several engineering projects in and around Nottingham, including replacing the Trent Bridge in 1871.  He was the first municipal engineer to put public services such as gas and water pipes in subways under streets.