What we learnt preparing for our Festive 40s wartime waterworks celebrations.
As part of our Winter Waterworks season, we’ve been celebrating a wartime waterworks Christmas at the Museum, channelling the 1940s spirit of rationing, air raids and make do and mend.
We’ve also unearthed some wonderful stories and photographs from our archive which show the crucial role the Kew Bridge site played in the War effort. Here are the top five things we learnt.
1. Our Tower was used as a fire watching post.
It’s logical really: at 165ft tall, our standpipe Tower still dominates the Kew Bridge skyline. What better place for local air raid wardens to look out for any fires breaking out.
2. Home Guards – but not as we know them.
The Waterworks had its own Home Guard brigade, but our home guards could not have been less like the characters immortalised by Dad’s Army. Because many of our workers did jobs classed as reserved occupations, exempted from conscription, the brigade is full of young men in their prime.
3. We played a major role in fire-fighting during the Blitz
Our archive records a local resident recalling just how noisy the Waterworks were during the Blitz. There was a very good reason for that: our engines were working at full tilt to supply the water used by firemen in the aftermath of bomb attacks. We’re proud to say that we contributed in our own way to saving St Paul’s and to ameliorating the devastating effects of night after night of bombing.
4. We were targeted by Nazi bombers
Given its location and significance in terms of supplying water for drinking as well as fire-fighting purposes, it’s unsurprising that the Kew Waterworks were seen as a legitimate industrial target. An aerial photograph from 1943 – on display in the Museum - clearly shows that this was indeed the case.
5. We were bracing ourselves for an attack
The Metropolitan Water Board were anticipating just such an attack. At Kew Bridge, the Waterworks windows were covered with steel blast shutters to protect the workers in the event of an attack. Outdoors, the filter bed workers had access to an air raid shelter.
We’ll be continuing the 1940s theme in the run up to Christmas when we’ll need out younger visitor to save Christmas lunch by taking our ration book trail challenge.
|Thu 07 December From our archive: the Museum at War - 07/12/2017 14:43:00 find out more|
|Mon 13 November Announcing our Winter at the Waterworks season - 13/11/2017 13:57:00 find out more|
|Sat 04 November Museum members enjoy Electric House preview evening - 04/11/2017 16:09:00 find out more|
|Tue 07 November Rotative engines taking a rest this weekend 4th - 5th Nov - 07/11/2017 10:54:00 find out more|
|Thu 26 October Museum acquires unique collection of glass negatives - 26/10/2017 08:46:00 find out more|
|Mon 16 October Mists and mellow fruitfulness: in praise of the Museum garden - 16/10/2017 09:47:00 find out more|
|Thu 28 September Thursday 5th October - Museum Close for Private event - 28/09/2017 14:35:00 find out more|
|Thu 14 September Museum Director Vacancy - 14/09/2017 15:17:00 find out more|
|Mon 07 August A little Imagination goes a long way....... - 07/08/2017 17:04:00 find out more|
|Mon 07 August My favourite thing: Ed Fagan, Museum Operations Manager - 07/08/2017 16:44:00 find out more|
|Fri 16 June Power surge: countdown to the new Electric House - 16/06/2017 17:56:00 find out more|
|Tue 13 June Steam Heritage London Podcast - 13/06/2017 19:04:00 find out more|
|Tue 18 April Important Notice - Road Closure - 18/04/2017 12:31:00 find out more|
|Thu 13 April Easter Weekend Update - Steam Fire Engine - 13/04/2017 13:58:00 find out more|
|Mon 27 February May - Cornish Engine House Temporary Closure - 27/02/2017 10:27:00 find out more|
|Mon 06 February Our Steaming Calender in a Flash! - 06/02/2017 12:19:00 find out more|
|Tue 03 January Planned Railway Closure - 03/01/2017 13:02:00 find out more|
|Wed 21 December Best Christmas Present Ever! - 21/12/2016 08:48:00 find out more|
|Thu 08 December Road and Car Park now fully open! - 08/12/2016 11:36:00 find out more|
|Fri 25 November Important Notice - Road Closure - 25/11/2016 16:08:00 find out more|
|Mon 07 November Marketing Trustee Vacancy - 07/11/2016 12:25:00 find out more|
|Mon 31 October Important Notice for Visitors - Railway in Steam Only Until Further Notice - 31/10/2016 09:31:00 find out more|
|Tue 27 September Museum closed for private function - Tuesday 15th of November - 27/09/2016 13:42:00 find out more|
|Thu 15 September CAR PARK CLOSED 17TH & 18TH SEPTEMBER - Fantastic Fire Engines - 15/09/2016 16:57:00 find out more|
|Wed 31 August Current Issues with Online Booking System. - 31/08/2016 16:18:00 find out more|
|Mon 22 August Important Car Park Update -Monday 22nd - 22/08/2016 10:00:00 find out more|
|Sun 21 August Important Car Park Update - Today - Sunday 21st August - 21/08/2016 08:53:00 find out more|
|Tue 26 July Cornish weekend update – 30th – 31st July - 26/07/2016 11:25:00 find out more|
|Sun 10 July Peppa Event Today - Sunday 10th July - 10/07/2016 11:56:00 find out more|
|Tue 07 June Pop Up Opera – tickets are selling fast! - 07/06/2016 16:18:00 find out more|
|Wed 06 April Tickets now on sale! - Music & Magic – Friday 13th May - 06/04/2016 15:34:00 find out more|
|Tue 29 March Easter Fun at the Museum! - 29/03/2016 11:18:00 find out more|
|Fri 25 August Tickets now available – Pop-Up Opera this April! - 25/08/2017 13:24:00 find out more|
|Wed 11 November The Museum is turning 40! - 11/11/2015 13:28:00 find out more|
|Tue 24 November Hey Clay - 24/11/2015 16:43:00 find out more|
|Tue 27 October Haunted Waterworks tour postponed - 27/10/2015 16:42:00 find out more|
|Fri 16 October Ghost Hunters In This Saturday! - 16/10/2015 13:52:00 find out more|
|Fri 18 September Museum Closed - Wednesday 23rd September - 18/09/2015 17:26:00 find out more|
|Mon 14 September Sunday 27th September - Garden Festival in Association with Speak Out Hounslow - 14/09/2015 18:23:00 find out more|
|Mon 14 September Technical Fault with Email - Monday 14th September - 14/09/2015 12:30:00 find out more|
|Sun 06 September Totally Thames Festival - Bottle Relay - 06/09/2015 12:00:00 find out more|
|Fri 28 August Grand Summer Steam Up - 28/08/2015 10:00:00 find out more|
|Thu 09 July Museum Awarded Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence - 09/07/2015 18:07:00 find out more|
|Thu 09 July The People's Tower: Workshop - 09/07/2015 09:38:00 find out more|