28DL Regular User
I had a few days off work so this week I decided to embark on another pump adventure heading towards The Fens. Unfortunately, like many recent visits, I didn’t have much luck. I’ve been keen to try the Oxborough station for a while now as it has been on my radar for years, even before me and Jake started getting into pump houses as a sort of niche. Unfortunately, the original engine and pump had been removed but it’s still quite a quirky little station and it hasn’t been properly documented online with photos so I think it is reportworthy.
I have also thrown in another corrugated pump house in the fens that I visited a few months back, for good measure. It is in a different location to this one but it’s a similar design and that one isn’t worthy of its own report due to lack of info & features so I thought I may as well bolt it on this report for those interested.
Information & History
Oxborough Pumping Station is a part of the Stoke Ferry district in Fenland. The Fens have several drainage districts and their structure has changed over the years. This district was created in 1771 for the draining of 2570 acres. Until the 20th Century, there were no district-maintained pumping stations here and any stations which did exist before C20 were private installations.
The site of Oxborough Pumping Station originally featured a small private plant that discharged water from a drain running from the south of Oxborough Hythe. This became disused in 1907 and a district-owned station was built featuring a hot-bulb oil engine of an unknown type. By 1940, this was replaced with a Ruston diesel engine which was a popular choice for powering drainage pumps around this time. They were commonly used across the UK and were even exported around the world. The Ruston drove a 12-inch pump via a drive belt from the engine. The station became disused at the end of the eighties and the pump was removed soon after. A few years later in 1998, the engine was removed and sold.
The site today now consists of the original corrugated pump house building which is fully stripped, in addition to a modern 18” Allen Gwynnes pump installed on site. There is also an old sluice gate mechanism next to the building which was controlled via a wheel, at least that is what I think it was. Lastly, there are remains of a large pipe running from the building.
As mentioned in the intro, I have wanted to see this one for ages but looking at Google Maps it appeared quite difficult to get to. This turned out to be false and was actually a relaxed 20-minute walk which was pretty much a public footpath all the way down. I passed a dead cornfield and a piece of land housing hundreds of sunflowers which were nice. There were also several jets flying over presumably from the nearby RAF bases Marham and/or Lakenheath.
Approaching the station I was surprised to see how poor condition it was in. Granted, the roof didn't look great on satellite imagery but I didn't realise how much it had sunk. You are able to see the outlet and the modern pump/electrical box which complements it as well:
Heading on inside, it is in really poor condition with lots of vegetation growing inside. Side note: these photos are straight in relation to the horizon, it is the pump house that is on the piss!
I am not sure what this wooden board was for on the wall, perhaps some sort of equipment was mounted here like tools for the maintenance of the engine/pump:
The only other noteworthy interior feature was the remains of the old pipe outlet, this would have connected to the original pump where the water would have then been discharged into the river:
Directly behind the station sits the old sluice gate and wheel control:
The electric pump on site:
A few shots of the corn and sunflower fields on the walk back:
Bonus Location: Glassmoor Bank Pump House
Next up is the small corrugated station at Glassmoor Bank. I visited this one earlier in the summer and is located in Cambridgeshire. This one seemed slightly different from the other stations I have visited in the area as it had an internal well or some sort of deep hole. I find this strange as I thought pump houses with wells are usually used for water supply as opposed to drainage. It could be that water was pumped down this well/hole and beneath the nearby road into the larger drain. There is an old drive wheel remaining but unfortunately no sort of pump or engine. The station would've pumped water from an unnamed drain into the Bevill's Leam drain which later becomes the Twenty Foot River. This then connects to the old course of the River Nene.
Thanks for looking!