Report - - Sandfields Pumping Station, Lichfield - August 2009 | Other Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Sandfields Pumping Station, Lichfield - August 2009


living in a cold world
Regular User
Sandfields is the oldest pumping station site belonging to South Staffs water, having once formed part of the original scheme implemented by the Company, shortly after its' formation. Under the South Staffordshire Waterworks Company Act 1853, the Company was authorised to provide a more ample supply of pure and wholesome water to Lichfield, Walsall and other towns in the Black Country area. Originally Sandfields Pumping Station was the Company's sole source of supply, it was opened, as a tablet records, by Lord Ward the Earl of Dudley, on the 26th October 1858.


1924 treatment plant (demolished 1998). The cornish engine house is left of centre and remains as a Grade 2 listed building. The 1858 engine house, chimney stack and boiler house to the right of the cornish engine house were all demolished in 1966.

The original pumping plant was designed and erected under the supervision of the Company's first engineer and originator, John Robinson McClean MP a well known engineer and railway contractor. The original buildings (demolished in 1966) were designed and erected by Branson and Gwyther (Birmingham). Originally the pumping plant installed in 1858, comprised two (Nr.1 and Nr.2) double acting expansion and condensing, single cylinder beam engines, buily by James Watt & Company (Birmingham). The two engines were connected by a common crankshaft to a single flywheel positioned between them. Foundations for a similar, but independent Nr.3 engine, were laid at the same time as those for Nr.1 and Nr.2 engines. The Nr.3 engine was installed in 1866. Each engine developed 120 HP at 9RPM and hada capacity for pumping water at the rate of 1,250,000 gallons per day with a delivery head of 355 feet on the force pumps.

In 1873 an additional sump well was constructed, and the original beam engine house extended to accommodate the Cornish beam engine (Nr.4) which has been preserved in its' original setting. The single acting expansion and condensing Cornish beam engine was constructed by Jonah and George Davies (Tipton) and ran until 1927, when it was retired from its standby duty service. It has a steam cylinder of 65" diameter and a stroke of 9 feet and once developed 190 HP at 7 strokes a minute, whilst pumping at a rate of 2,000,000 gallons perday with a delivery head of 355 feet on the force pump. A Tuscan arcade of three arches with fluted columns, supports the bearings for the beam and the wholeconstruction even the smallest moulding, illustrates the close relationship between architecture and engineering prevalent in the second half of the 19th century.


The Cornish engine house in 1923. Note the railway line on the left hand side which provided a route for the pumping main to Walsall.

George and Jonah Davies Steam Engine Details

Power: 190 HP
Speed: 7 Strokes per minute
Engine house size: 52 feet long, 20 feet wide, 42 feet high
Beam length: 36 feet
Beam weight: 20 tonnes
Steam Cylinder: 65" diameter x 9 feet stroke
Well Pump bucket: 2 Feet 1inch diameter x 9 feet stroke.

In 1966 the pumping plant was fully modernised with the construction of a new pump house building and the installation of new electrically powered pumping plant. The new pumphouse was constructed on the site of the 1858 engine house using the original basement and wall footigns. The chimney stack and boiler house were demolished.


A small part of the1966 pumphouse (now empty) can be seen on the extreme right hand side.

In 1996 negotiations were entered into with the Environmental Agency to reduce groundwater abstraction in the Lichfield area in order to improve base flows in the nearby Leomansley Brook. It was subsequently decided to cease pumping completely from Sandfields and the pumps were shut down in September 1997. The filtration plant was demolished in June 1998 leaving the Cornish engine house and the empty 1966 pumphouse as the only major structures still standing.

The Cornish engine house is a Grade II listed building and will be retained in perpetuity. A group comprising a number of enthusiastic South Staffs Water employees and like minded individuals from the nearby Burton on Trent based Clay Mills Pumping Engine Trust have formed the "Friends of Sandfields Pumping Station" who have commenced cleaning and restoration work on the Cornish engine with the primary objective of cleaning and restoring the engine to first-class condition and periodically opening the premises to the general public.



I visited with inlovewithsound on a sunny Tuesday afternoon, and this place does NOT disappoint. Everything is as shiny as the day it opened, and shows no signs of decay.


Seems we weren't the first people to enter the works without permission...


The Cornish beam. It really is amazing standing next to it, it's huge!





Top of the steam cylinder in the foreground, with top of the valve chest behind it.






Valve trip gear, with the bottom of the steam cylinder at the back.


Boxes and boxes of old paperwork, including complaints, sample reports, summaries and brochures. Earliest date we found was 1912.



These books were dated 1944 and 1973



The electrical control panel in what was the pumphouse.




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