The Waterworks Museum prides itself that the museum never stands still and that there is always something new for visitors to see. Living up to this mantra is a real challenge, but one which the Museum’s trustees and volunteers welcomingly embrace. Currently, we have two engineering projects as work in progress, which will create new displays at the Museum in 2020 and 2021.
A sub-theme of the Museum’s Collection Policy is to conserve rare engines and pumps that were used in an educational context to train the engineers and apprentices who may have worked in the water or an associated industry. The collection includes several engines of this kind.
In 2017, we were fortunate to receive a donation of a cross compound slow speed instructional engine set used by engineering firm W Sisson & Company of Gloucester to train its apprentices. The donor, Mr Peter Curtis from Denbury in Devon, was one of these apprentices.
Work to restore the Sissons Engines has been completed and a new display is being created at the rear of the Museum, adjacent to the Engineers’ Workshop. This new display will be opened in 2020.
BROCKHAMPTON PUMP SET
The Museum’s collection contains few artefacts from the early decades of the 20th century, so the Trustees were delighted when they had opportunity to acquire a pump of this era with strong local provenance.
The triple throw pump acquired was used to supply water to the Brockhampton Estate near Bromyard before there was a public water supply. Manufactured by Frank Pearn & Co of Girton, Manchester, this pump is a rare example of its kind.
The restoration of the pump set, which was in poor condition and had to be completely stripped down, is nearing completion (see page 2 of WaterWords Spring 2018 for an explanation of the repairs that were required). When refurbishment is finished, the pump set will be displayed covered in the courtyard along with a pressure filter, which is also from the Brockhampton Estate. Trustees were unable to acquire the original engine, so the pump will be powered by a Lister CS diesel engine or another engine of similar vintage.
Trustees hope to add to this display a 20th century instrumentation panel, but this has yet to be sourced.
A new display has already been created in the Southall Gallery which has brought together a range of meters, gauges and measuring instruments used in (or typical of the sort used in) the water industry. This display continues to be improved and, when complete, it will include a visitor operated interactive touch screen panel to reveal the story behind each of these important instruments.
CREATING A NEW STORAGE AREA
Projects at the Waterworks Museum is not all about restoring historic engines and pumps to working condition. The Museum operates on a single site with no scope for expansion, so we are basically running out of space. To improve the position, for the last year volunteers have been creating a new storage area at the back of the Museum, behind the Massington Lineshaft Display. This has included relaying the rail track to extend to this area to make movement of heavy items much easier. When this project is complete, bulky items currently stored on the Museum forecourt will be moved which will both improve the visual tidiness of the forecourt, but also create additional space for new exhibits – including the Brockhampton Pump Set (see above).