Two years ago, the Trustees of the Waterworks Museum were were very proud when the efforts of the Heritage Water Park team of volunteers were recognised and the project was declared the winner of the inaugural West Midlands Museum Development Volunteers Project Award.
Today, the Trustees are thrilled to announce that this award has been won for a second time, for the Massington Lineshaft Project. The final phase of this project was of opened by the Mayor of Hereford at our Gala Day celebration in July this year.
The project started six years ago when the Museum was the grateful recipient of three unrelated artefacts: the original but rusted Lineshaft from Massington Pumping Station at Ledbury, and two partially restored but incomplete items - a rare 1920’s Wilson Oil Engine, which is possibly the largest remaining example of its kind but had for decades lain derelict in a field in Aberdeenshire, and a triple throw water pump of similar vintage made at Brancaster in Norfolk. It was the vision of our volunteer engineers who could see how these items could be brought together in a new display to create a water pumping system redolent of the one that would have operated at Massington in the Edwardian era. The result has been the creation a very popular new display for our visitors to enjoy.
The Massington Lineshaft project took a full 5 years to complete and many engineering ‘challenges’ had to be overcome as none of the components came with a manual to describe the 'missing parts’, which had to be designed by our volunteers and tooled in the Museum workshop. This story has been told in detail in a 2-part article in Stationary Engine magazine in September & October 2018 (click here to read Part 1 & Part 2).
In making the Volunteer Project Award the judges referred to the teamwork, perseverance and the wide range of skills applied by our volunteers - as well as acknowledging the collaboration shown with other museums, who donated key parts of the exhibit, and the quality of the new exhibit it created for visitors to enjoy. The Project Award therefore epitomises what the Waterworks Museum is about and is an acknowledgement of the efforts of all of our volunteers. So many individuals made a contribution, directly or indirectly: the volunteer engineers who restored the engine and pump, those who erected the marque that allowed work to continue through winter months or dug the foundations and laid concrete for the new display, and those who were involved in planning and financing this complex project. Everyone at the Museum took an interest in the project as could be seen in the gatherings every Tuesday afternoon, whatever the weather, to see if the latest technical ‘glitch' had been overcome and the engine and pump would operate for the first time.
The Massington Lineshaft Display could only be created because of the generosity of John & Pauline Pugh, the Grampian Transport Museum, and Mr Chris Thomas & the Norfolk Museums Service, who respectively donated the Lineshaft, the Wilson Engine and the Brancaster pump. We are also extremely grateful for the continued support of a number of local contractors.
The ‘Project Award’ was one of nine volunteer awards presented at the Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and West Midlands Museums Development. There were shortlisted Museums from across the West Midlands all of who demonstrated the importance of volunteering and the critical skills and experience volunteers bring to the heritage sector. This is something we understand very well at the Waterworks Museum - because everyone who works here is a volunteer. If you would like to know more about volunteering at the Waterworks Museum please contact the Chairman at firstname.lastname@example.org.