New Displays To The Steam Hall & Its Engines
Our 'Steam Hall' collection of water supply pumping engines has always been popular and we want to build on this to create three new linked displays which help put the machinery into context both in terms of the Museum's collections, the story of the whole site's history and the wider water supply story for London.
The first display will welcome the visitor and explain that they are entering the preserved buildings of one of the oldest and most important water supply sites left anywhere in the World, being first established in 1836. A large model will unravel some of its wonderful history and highlight the many changes and phases of its development over time, showing some of the hidden features below ground or explaining those which are now lost. The display will spread out to the length of the 90" Engine Corridor, bringing to life the story of some 200 local people who kept the waterworks in operation over 150 years, describing their working lives. Using images, drawings, written and audio presentations the story of the Kew Bridge Waterworks will be told in full for the first time.
The engines within the Steam Hall will receive new historical interpretation, explaining how they are representative of many similar machines which are now lost, but were once used to pump billions of litres of water to London households up to the 1960's. These machines only survived due to the dedicated efforts of the Museum's volunteers and a third display will celebrate their achievements, and encourage visitors to come forward and get involved. The Museum is unable to operate without them and they are involved across all areas.
We are aware that on non 'steaming days' this and the other engine rooms on site seem cold and lifeless, so for the benefit of visitors we hope to run one or two engines 'electrically' for demonstration purposes, with animated display models alongside. Similarly projected audio film will show these and other engines in service, telling the story of working lives now gone.