We took a trip up to the Kempton Steam Museum in Hanworth, Middlesex, just an hour or so from us here in Hampshire. We checked their website for all details of opening times and of course how to get there, we notice that they are just outside the ULEZ zone so made sure we followed their directions very carefully as we didin’t want to pay the charged for it if we entered it and I have to say it was easy and their directions on their website were great.
We parked up and could see there was a small car show on outside the building, a great selection of cars but we were more intereseted in getting inside and seeing these steam engines. Lovely friendly staff on the front desk and with the entey paid, £10.00 each, handed a great guide book and we were on our way through the beautiful door. As we turned through the door we were greeted with this huge engine, wow it was massive and there are 2 of them!
As we entered we could see the 2 huge engines at either end of the fabulous building, looking down you can see down into the lower levels, not great for Wendy as she is not a fan of heights but after being there a while she had got use to it, even managing to go up and down the stairs. It was only about 20 minutes before they we going to get one of the engines working.
The pumping station was established by the New River Company in 1897, this was to puriify water for London, construction work was done between 1900 and 1906, by this time the company along with sevaral others had become known as the Metroplitan Water Board. In the 1920’s the company had increased the system and had to build a new engine house to house the 2 triple expansion engines which are the ones that are housed here today, they are named “Sir William Prescott” and “Lady Bessie Prescott”. Steam power was used here until 1980 when they were decommissioned and electric was used. In 1995 the Kempton Great Engine Trust was established and they have restored the engines and wow what a job they have done! Only one of the engines steams, “Sir William Prescott”, but you can have a guided tour and go up to the top of the other “Lady Bessie Prescott”, well worth it if you have a head for heights.
The bell rang and time to start this beast, with the Barring engine steam turned on to start the large triple-expansion engine it all started to turn slowly, with the team of men and woman working on the engine, checking and watching it was then time to let the engine do its thing and with that it was off. Wow it was just beautiful, gentley turning over, with the speed increased with each turn until they were happy with it all gently ticking over, it ran for half an hour or so before slowly coming to rest like a big living breathing thing, it was great. In the time it had been running we chatted with many of the volunteers who where happy to tell us all about this beautiful piece of engeering, you could see and hear in their vocies how proud they are of what they have and to see it run for all of the people there.
We had a lovely wander about the building, a building you just wouldn’t see being built now, the lovely tiles on the wall, the windows and the time and care that has been taken to build it and take care of it, it was all fantastic. We also took a walk outside to the little railway they have there, called Hampton Kempton Waterworks Railway, we took a ride around the loop behind their steam loco, I think that they have plans to extend the railway over time. We enjoyed our ride but decided we would go back into see the engine run for one more time, each time we watched we were mesmerised. We visited their little cafe, selling hot drinks and cakes, we also had a look round their small but well stocked shop, lots of items to purchase including our wonderful Victoria’s Torton Tales books! Yes Kempton Steam Museum is one of our stockists so if you want a great day out with the children and finish off with a cuppa and treat the kids to a Victoria’s Torton Tales story book, what could be better.
We very muched enjoyed our day there, as I said the staff and volunteers were great, all very friendly and the building and engines just blew us away, beautiful, and I think everyone should take the time to visit such a fabulous place.
Please check out the Kempton Steam Museum website where you will find so much information about the site, buildings and the engines, and they have all the information you need about visitng them, make sure you go on a steam day as it truely is well worth it.
See all the pictures below of our day but if you would like to see a few of our videos then please visit our Facebook page.