The Waterworks Museum is housed in the Lower Pumping Station of Hereford’s Victorian waterworks at Broomy Hill whose early electricity supplies were brought in via this green connection box. Until recently, it was situated outside the water-tower pump annexe, built in 1882, which is now the Museum’s toilet block.
Replacing the ‘Lucy Box’ with a modern distribution unit meant the Museum was without electricity for three days in July 2018, but this act of modernisation will shortly create a new exhibit for the Museum forecourt - and one with an important hidden story to tell.
Around the turn of the 20th century most English towns and cities had opted for internal combustion engines to power their water pumps but Hereford, rather far-sightedly, went straight from steam power to electric motors.
Electric pumps had first been installed at the base of the water tower in 1911, to pump water from the pure water tanks of the then new filter beds to the high-pressure storage tank, but full electrification of the works took place in the spring of 1914 when two Mather & Platt centrifugal pumps were installed in the well area of the lower pumping station.
The now replaced green Lucy Box relates back to this important pre WW1 phase in the development of Broomy Hill water works, which saw the removal and (sadly) the disposal of the original Simpson beam engines, and which marked the end of the day-to-day use of the magnificent Worth Mackenzie Triple Expansion Steam Engine.
Visitors will soon be able to see some of the porcelain fuse carriers removed from the Lucy Box in a new display inside the Museum.