Archive for August 6th, 2012

Kew Bridge Steam Museum

Monday, August 6th, 2012

If you’re in London this week and you’re already feeling Olympic-overload, we suggest that you break from the festivities and visit one of London’s lesser known historical sites. The Kew Bridge Steam Museum  celebrates the power of water and steam, and the ways it revolutionized life in Europe’s largest city and has become a major point of the European Route of Industrial Heritage. The museum has even starred in uniquely British television series such as Doctor Who and EastEnders, and films like Jude’s Law.

According to the museum website, by 1830 water quality coming from a public water pumping station in Chelsea had been deteriorating and so the Grand Junction Waterworks Company built a replacement pumping station at Kew Bridge, opening for operation in 1838. The station was powered by massive steam-powered engines, marvels of cutting edge engineering at the time, which drew water from the River Thames into London’s potable water supply. The power and capacity of these steam engines allowed city and regional planners of the time to supply the city with clean water, critical for fighting off persistent Cholera epidemics. Powered down in 1944, the pumping station became a national landmark and is preserved to commemorate the great change in sanitation and urban living made possible by man’s ability to harness and apply the power of steam.

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