Manuscripts and Special Collections

Papplewick Pumping Station, constructed 1884


In 1879, the Nottingham Waterworks Company built a reservoir near to the Nottinghamshire village of Papplewick to store water from its Bestwood Waterworks. In the same year, the Corporation of Nottingham took over undertakings of privately owned water companies by Act of Parliament at a time when improvement in the amount and quality of water for the people and businesses of rapidly expanding Nottingham was of great concern. In 1884, the Corporation completed the construction of Papplewick Pumping Station near to the reservoir on land purchased from Andrew Montagu. The station was driven by two beam engines made by James Watt and Co., with water being obtained from two wells in the Bunter sandstone beds. The construction of the station involved the installation of boilers made by Galloway and a cooling pond. The station pumped 1.5 million gallons per engine per year.

Detail from a photocopy of a plan of Papplewick Pumping Station, c.1884 (PPS/1/89)
Detail from a photocopy of a plan of Papplewick Pumping Station, c.1884 (PPS/1/89) 

Despite the many technological advancements in pumping stations since 1884, Papplewick Pumping Station's steam driven Watt engines remained in service until 1969 when the engines were replaced by electric pumps to reduce costs. In the same year, the pumping station was placed on standby service and it was finally closed in 1973. It was replaced by a completely new electric pump house.

The physical condition of the redundant Papplewick Pumping Station deteriorated but was rescued by a charitable trust which was granted a lease from Nottingham City Council. The trust, the Papplewick Association, first met in 1975 and was initially set up to preserve the engines. It completed much restoration work: overhauling the machinery and cleaning out the cooling pond. The pumping station was first opened to the public on 15 April 1976. Construction of new accommodation for visitor and volunteer facilities designed by architects Cullen, Carter and Hill began in 1991 at the same time as the release of a funding prospectus to encourage 250,000 pounds of investment into the project. In 2002, the Heritage Lottery Fund granted 1.6 million pounds for restoration, conservation and improved facilities. Work has also been undertaken to allow access to the 1879 underground reservoir, which was closed in 1906 due to subsidence.


Multi-level descriptions of a collection of plans of buildings and apparatus of Papplewick Pumping Station held by the University are available through the Manuscripts Online Catalogue. These include floor plans and elevations of the engine and boiler house, and other buildings, with details of windows, doors and roofs.

Plans of apparatus include diagrams of engines and pumping equipment (and their components), the cooling pond, and pipes.

About three quarters of the plans predate 1920 and relate mainly to the original construction and equipment of the pumping station. The later plans deal more with repairs and the erection of temporary buildings. A small number of photographs and ephemera from the 1980s and 1990s can be found in other water related collections.   


Next page:  Derwent Valley Water Board, 1899-1974

Manuscripts and Special Collections

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