Report - - Bigwell Pumping Station,Dowdeswell,Nov 2014 | Other Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Bigwell Pumping Station,Dowdeswell,Nov 2014


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Explored solo on a cold,wet Sunday morning recently,thought id best write it up...this place has beckoned for months but now I can cross it off. This old filtration and treatment plant is for drinking water not sewer treatment like a lot of people seem to think. I love the honesty of a working building like this,industrial and abandoned.The smells,left equipment,history and feel you just don't get on other explores. Overgrown,forgotten and with huge water damage taking hold,this this place's time must be up soon.

Pumping Station,wot dat?

A huge pump that takes water from the Dowdeswell Reservoir next to it,filters and treats the water ready for drinking,then pumps it onto Cheltenham.Or it used to-its been retired and is officially now used for flood relief although in reality it isn't and just sits there deteriorating.

How Dat Work?

The water is pumped through filter beds which remove animal and natural waste,pesticides etc. The beds actually have a biofilm layer floating on top of them (a few millimetres of natural bacteria,fungi and larvae) that do most of the work. 90-99% of the bacteria is killed before it even goes through the four foot of sand.The sand filters everything else out,progressively finer sand filter beds and chlorine treatment finish the job.

Wot Now?

Severn Trent have put the reservoir up for sale-one person bidding for it actually brought the pumping station and grounds last year. Hes Julian Dunkerton,the co-founder of Superdry clothing who lives in a suitably vulgar mansion just up the road. Hes also bidding on the huge belt of woods surrounding the reservoir so will enjoy quite a view from his kitchen window whilst doing the washing up.

The non-urbex entrance..

The main reservoir pump and walkway-note the black waterbreak walls behind for when the reservoir used to properly be full

Main building,lovely sandstone façade and name plaque

Some nice details on all sides..

..even round the back.Iron drainpipes,railings etc,other sub buildings on site are later additions,smaller and not worthy of a pic

Like this one missing the gauge

Some of the filter beds

The mixing chambers

Underground storage tank vents

Here for the stag do? (sorry)

Lovely old valve wheel

Into the main pump house,sample chambers on right

Enormous pump dominates one entire end of building

Storeroom-disinfection records dating mid-nineties

Nice to see nothing was left behind to rot away wastefully..

Nice banister leading upstairs,maybe its not as derp'd up there?


ive eaten in worse places to be fair

Original testing kit and a few bits remain

As does the main instrument panel

And who says the British don't have a sense of humour? The place next door makes telecommunication masts disguised as 'Pine Trees',youd never know,would you?

The nature reserve and forest both sides of the reservoir are a huge breeding ground for frogs.Every June two tunnels are opened up for their migration,even the busy A40 running alongside the site is closed periodically with volunteers helping them across.Its not clear what happens if a frog breaks down on the main road itself-does it get toad away?? (sorry again.)
These old pump stations are being sold off all over the place-slow sand filtration has been used since the 1800's but are slow.Modern stations use carbon blocks pushing water through at 6000 litres per minute.Thats progress I guess but I really like this place despite the damp,uncertain future and chemicals bleeding into the ground-its quite an alchemy.
Thanks for looking,hope you enjoyed.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Thanks guys,ran out of time to look properly and got talking to guy that owns the old mill house,nice bloke and got lots of useful info...have to revisit soon,only up the road from me.

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