The Grade I-listed pumping station in which this museum housed was built in 1838 and it was the first to drive clean water into people’s homes, 24 hours a day – at an affordable price. The revamped museum now combines remarkable working remains of our Victorian industrial heyday – nine machines (five still in their original locations), including the 90-inch steam-powered Cornish Engine – with the story of how London’s water has been cleaned up since the seventeenth century.
You can follow a timeline of pipes right up to modern sewerage, stopping off on the way to ponder Hugh Myddleton’s New River (an ambitious engineering project realised with financial help from King James I that was designed to bring clean water from the River Lea, near Ware, in Hertfordshire to New River Head in London). There are tunnels and sewers to walk and crawl through, the 1902 Hindley Waterwheel, plus lots of interactivities: labs where the nippers can compare clean and polluted water, and in the new Splash Zone a variety of water-pumping experiments, using sluices, pulleys and pumps.
The new museum hasn’t pulled the plug on its prime attractions though: every weekend (and at bank holidays) the ancient engines are fired up and whir into action, along with a puttering narrow-gauge railway and steam-powered fire engine. There’s action on weekdays too, but the waterwheel and the James Kay rotative engine use that new-fangled electricity stuff.
Exhausted? The Stokers Café is open daily and is accessible without having to enter the museum.
Note: annual passes cost just £3 on top of your day ticket.
|Venue name:||London Museum of Water and Steam||Contact:|
Green Dragon Lane
|Opening hours:||11am-4pm daily|
|Transport:||Rail: Kew Bridge rail|
|Price:||£11.50, £10 concs, £5 children (5-16), £16.50 family (1+2), £28 family (2+2)|
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I took my boyfriend when he came to visit, as he's big into old engineering stuff (we're 20/21) and we really had a great day. The displays are very well paced and let you ingest a fairly significant amount of information easily and entertained; the interactive exhibits for kids are well designed; the old engines are genuinely beautiful, and for anyone over 1.2 meters I recommend going to the top of the 90 and 100-inch cylinder engines. We were lucky there was beautiful weather, and there are outdoors water-edu-toys
I walked past here on the off chance last weekend when the museum and cafe were having their "friends and family weekend" and I am so glad I did! The kids had a wonderful time going round the museum playing on all the interactive games and were positively worn out by the end. The cafe, which you can go to without paying for the museum had such smiley staff. The food was devine..the children shared a brownie whilst I had a chicken and quinoa salad..the coffee was very good too. I will sure be coming back here with my husband to sit in the cafe garden with a cider and a glass of wine!