1838 Maudslay Sons and Field – Engine Shutdown

1838 Maudslay Engine – Shutdown and Conservation.



The study of industrial archaeology and the later preservation movement has its beginnings in the early 20th century with the formation of The Sheffield Trades Societies of 1918, set up specifically to study the trades and heritage of that great industrial city, and was shortly followed by the internationally renowned Newcomen Society in 1920 who sought to foster the study of the history of engineering and technology. Notably in 1935 the Cornish Engines Preservation Committee, led by Viscount Falmouth bought and saved the Levant Mine and beam engine in Cornwall and reported early in 1937 on their listing of the remaining Cornish engines in Britain, including those still working for the Metropolitan Water Board at Kew Bridge. The Metropolitan Water Board, at the instigation of Falmouth, since 1940 a member of the MWB, supported by Henry Cronin and Hugh Lupton took up corporate membership of the Committee. The idea of preserving a working part of our industrial heritage comes to the fore in the public consciousness in 1951 with the rescue of the Talyllyn railway by a group of volunteers who sought to publicise their efforts in order to encourage others to volunteer to work on the railway, and thus a working piece of our industrial past, a past still very much present in 1950s Britain was saved and is now a ‘norm’; the Talylln has always been there and the names Rolt and Whitehouse (alongside others) will be enshrined in preservation mythology forever.

The pioneering act of large scale industrial preservation in my opinion, is not a railway; no volunteers were involved and it happened with no fanfare, and no public celebration at Kew Bridge. On 16th June 1944, as part of a regular report of the Works and Stores Committee, the Minutes and Proceedings of the Metropolitan Water Board record:

“It would appear that when Kew Bridge filter beds are abandoned the better course would be for the works to be retained as a re-pumping station. Some of the Board’s old machinery, which is of historic interest, could be installed and used for pumping at Kew, and would form a museum for the benefit of engineering students and the general public.”

The decision seems almost easy, the minute appearing as a short paragraph amongst pages of other decisions affecting the supply of clean water to the Capital City, 10 days after D-day and more than a year from an uncertain victory in Europe. This positive outcome is, in the main the result of the enthusiasm of Hugh Lupton, at the time Deputy Chief Engineer (CME) for the MWB who had created a shortlist of machinery and other objects that should be added to those already at Kew for display. The Board minute however, indicates that the historic machinery at Kew would be used for pumping water, and this was never the case; the large Cornish engines being replaced with electric pumps in 1944 and each one being carefully put at half stroke on blocks. Lupton was in fact very much against the operation of the engines at Kew Bridge, for a number of reasons which he lays out in a letter in May 1975, a few months before the Kew Bridge Engines Trust moved the 1820 Boulton and Watt engine on steam for the first time. Lupton delicately introduces the

“…doubtful wisdom of the intended periodic running of these engines under steam.”

He asks in the letter:

“Are experienced drivers available, and will they continue to be available in the future?”

Lupton is not just a ‘spoil sport’ he was a formally trained, highly qualified and well served mechanical engineer whose concerns in 1975 certainly ring true in 2019.

“…consideration that such [periodic] running must inevitably cause a certain amount of deterioration and wear which would affect their preservation to the disadvantage of future generations.”

Even given his views on operation of historic machinery, which may have been more mild in 1944, Lupton’s vision for the preservation of Kew Bridge and the addition of other machinery to form a museum within a working pumping station was certainly bold and brave when considering the context of the time. Hugh Lupton should be strongly considered to be the accidental father of the industrial preservation movement, and at its heart is the pumping station at Kew Bridge.

In 2019, the current custodians of the Kew Bridge Pumping Station can often be found discussing hindsight and the advantage we now have, the knowledge, through no lack of training, that our predecessors were lacking, as we acknowledge that the periodic operation of large stationary steam engines has resulted in wear and damage that adversely affects their ongoing preservation and casts a dark shadow over their potential operation for the enjoyment of future generations.

“We don’t need Museum people telling us what to do with these engines! I was here at the beginning, I helped build this place, 40 years of my life are in these walls! I have steam in my blood!” (An eminent Kew Bridge personality – Circa 2014)

The road has not been smooth over the last half a century.

Around a year has been spent preparing conservation management plans for the working objects in the Museum’s collection, my colleague and I were somewhat surprised when the list ran to over 50 objects needing specific care and considered operation (or not). This process took nearly a year, and the plans are not complete. Each engine, pump, meter, clock and machine tool has been researched and the details of its history, its importance as an historic object, not only to the history of engineering and technology but its social, political and economic impact on the world had to be measured. The current state of each engine, and how that condition came to be, also required great thought and research amongst the still surviving members of an older generation who could recall ‘what happened when’ – all diligently committed to paper. Once the basis of this now huge collective was in one place a committee that included several eminent museum professionals, all highly regarded and rewarded in their fields of study, a marine engineer, a mechnical engineer and I, the current custodian (Collections and Estates Manager) sat together to hear my proposals, based on the information we had gleaned, for each of the large engines in our care. I was more prepared for this meeting than for anything else I had yet undertaken, realising that there could be opposition in the room for what I was about to say.

I chose to begin with the worst case, that way things can only get easier! Within the context of our illustrious past, this paper seeks only to deal with the 1838 Maudslay Sons and Field Engine.


1838 Maudslay Sons and Field Beam pumping engine

An engine and boilers were ordered from Maudslay Sons and Field by the Grand Junction Waterworks Company in September 1836 at a cost of £7,350 to be erected and commissioned at the company’s new works at Kew Bridge. The price included £650 for the structural ironwork, columns and beams to receive a second engine at a later date; whilst no second engine was ever ordered all of this structure exists in the West side of the engine house at Kew Bridge. Technology had moved on since the Grand Junction had erected its pumping station on the embankment at Chelsea employing two engines by Boulton and Watt of 1820, and yet, William Anderson, the company’s engineer chose to have the new engine for Kew Bridge arranged virtually identically. The cylinder was specified at 64 inches, but was increased at Maudslay’s recommendation to 65 inches so that patterns for a similar engine already constructed for the Chelsea Waterworks undertaking at Southwark could be re-used, the stroke length of both engines was 8 feet. Both engines were of ‘conventional layout and materials’. An intake pipe was laid in the river bed to a point upstream on the Surrey side of Brentford Ait and a thirty inch cast iron main for delivery to customers was installed from Kew Bridge to Paddington. The Kew Bridge engine worked for the first time on 7th August, 1838, and the new pipework was formally tested on 2nd May after breakfast at 0500. Failures in sections of the delivery main gave Maudslay’s a chance to finish off the wooden lagging on the cylinder and lagging on the steam pipe. When tested, the engine pumped 600 tons per hour to Paddington at a fuel consumption of 4 cwt. of coal per hour.

There must have been issues with the ‘new’ engine at Kew Bridge because it was not until 19th June 1839 that the Company Directors were sufficiently happy with the performance and reliability of the engine and associated pipework that the closure of the pumping station at Chelsea was authorised.

If you visit Kew Bridge today, the engine you will see, is not the engine supplied by Maudslay Sons and Field. The structural ironwork is still very much extant, and although there was never a second Maudslay engine, the space on the western side has seen 3 engines during its working life. The only remnants of the 65-inch watt type engine, as ordered in 1836 are the foundations and the eastern most leaf of the beam. It is the story of what happens to the engine, its success and failure that make an often maligned piece of equipment so significant within the Museum’s collection but also as a part of the development of engineering and technology for water supply that has local, national and international reach.


Thomas Wicksteed and Samuel Collet Homersham

The engineer Thomas Wicksteed was commissioned in 1844 by the Grand Junction Water Company to survey and review their undertakings and make recommendations. The resultant works included the design and construction of the first Grand Junction Co. slow sand filter and the construction of a new engine and engine house. Part of the recommendations made by Wicksteed included proposals to modernise the Maudslay engine at Kew Bridge, the contract for these works was awarded to Samuel Collet Homersham. Homersham (1816 – 1886) had been born in Kent and made his name as a hydraulic engineer and hydrologist. He studied rainfall patterns and subterranean water supplies as well as the effects of softening water. One of his main engineering endeavors was the study and development of valves for use in water pumps as well as his involvement in the study of the feasibility of atmospheric railways. Alterations to the Maudslay engine would see the engine converted to the Cornish cycle with the raising of its working steam pressure to 40psi. The work involved cutting off the top of the cylinder so as to adapt it to fit a new ‘steam case’ (what we would call a jacket) a new internal steam cylinder cover was supplied and was installed under a new external polished cover. The works extended to include a new cylinder bottom to accommodate new valve gear. All the engine’s valves, actuating arbors and levers were replaced together with the valve chest associated support columns, one of which would become the transfer pipe after the equilibrium valve, taking steam from the top of the cylinder after the indoor stroke, down to the exhaust valve. Whilst the engine was being updated, work proceeded at the other end of the engine house with alterations to the pump. As built, the Maudslay engine has an open sump identical to that which can be seen on the Eastern side of the building where our 1820 Boulton and Watt engine stands. As a part of the modernisation this sump was covered over and a new iron tank was installed. Within the tank a new pump plunger was fitted within a new pump case, these workings being sufficiently sized and weighted to deliver a head of 200 feet, plus friction.

With Homersham’s contract complete, on the 4th February 1846 the ‘Maudslay’ engine at Kew Bridge pumped water from the newly completed slow sand filter from Kew Bridge to supply for the first time being the first engine to do so – the Grand Junction Company now supplied clean, filtered water to its customers in London. The engine was joined in this work 4 months later by the newly commissioned 90-inch engine by Sandys Carne and Vivian.

The engine’s working life proceeded from this point with ‘regular’ service, although records show that the engine suffered more than its fair share of breakdowns, although we do not know the exact nature of any of them a selection of the recorded incidents are included here. It is worth noting that normal pumping speed at this time is recorded as being 10-11 strokes per minute against a head of 220 feet. A much more vigorous rate than you would have seen under museum conditions.

A plug rod was broken in February 1850

The key connecting the piston to the main link broke in June 1850

The air pump cross head had to be replaced in July 1851.

The metallic piston in the air pump had to be replaced in 1852.

A breakage involving the piston is recorded in February 1856 and again in 1857 after which a replacement piston was fitted.

By January 1860 the cylinder was deemed to be worn out, the contract for its replacement was let to Harvey’s of Hayle and would include another new piston. Works by Harvey’s took approximately 18 months to complete and it was during these works on 3rd December that George Henry Banfield, aged 29 was killed in the engine house when parts of the engine fell on him. Records show that his widow was awarded £50. The works carried out by Harvey’s are the last major alteration and are significant because of their date. The Canadian Asbestos Company began trading in the UK during the same year, and by 1862 had set up offices in London and Glasgow. It is possible therefore, given the prolific business nature of Harvey’s of Hayle that encapsulated round the cylinder on the Maudslay engine at Kew Bridge is perhaps the earliest example of the large scale application and use of asbestos products on a steam engine. The material on the Maudslay engine will differ greatly from the products found on later engines around the turn of the 20th century. The encapsulated material on the Maudslay, hidden under the lagging and the cylinder cover will likely contain a low level of chrysotile mineral fibre, mixed with large quantities of plaster and other packing materials such as chalk. Whilst it remains encapsulated in situ the material present does not present any significant risk. I would argue that because of its historic significance the lagging on the Maudslay engine should be left and recorded for future generations to study the early application of this wonder material of the industrial age.

An accident resulting in the breakage of the beam on the East Boulton and Watt engine at Kew Bridge in 1862 resulted in the fitting of wrought iron trussing to the beam of the Maudslay engine, this work began on 8th June 1863 and was recorded as complete a month later.

During October 1882 all the steam valves were replaced, together with the equilibrium pipe that had been installed by Homersham during the ‘modernisation works’ in 1844.

In October 1888 the East cast iron leaf of the beam broke and was replaced by a new, thicker one, the engine resumed work on 9th January 1889.

After this point there are no records of further failures or work carried out on the engine, we do not believe that this is as a result of a sudden improvement in the reliability of the engine, but rather to a change in reporting structure as the MWB came into being at the turn of the century. Visitors to Kew and those that have studied the Maudslay engine will know that it has a highly unusual and complex shaped final connection from the round steam main to the rectangular flange on the entablature. The structure currently extant is modern, dating from the restoration of the engine, but it replaced an almost identical fabrication in welded steel plate that dated from the mid 1930s which I suspect replaced a complex cast iron piece installed by Homersham.

The engine last pumped water to supply on 14th April 1944 and was put on blocks by the Metropolitan Water Board, a position and state in which it remained until 1983.



I am sure it can be appreciated, given this long and somewhat chequered history that the significance of the engine is more than just the story and a collection of component parts. The fabric of this engine charts the progress and development of the stationary steam engine and its application particularly to water supply. The component parts of this engine have been designed and crafted by some of the most eminent engineers and companies of the industrial age. It is, in many ways no longer a Maudslay engine, but the only example of a Homersham engine. The same engineer produced the pump for the North Boulton and Watt engine from Chelsea (now the West or Paddington engine) when it was re-erected at Kew Bridge and masterminded the conversion of this engine from a Watt type to the Cornish cycle also. The influence of Harvey’s of Hayle on Kew Bridge alongside that of Homersham serves to demonstrate the prowess of this company at its peak, there are two engines solely by Harvey’s on site at Kew, the Maudslay has a cylinder by them, and the now long gone East Boulton and Watt engine was completely rebuilt under their auspices, the replacement leaves of the beam had the company’s name cast into them!

The Maudslay engine, at the time of writing has a number of faults (why break a habit of a lifetime?) all of which date from its time in preservation and all are caused by the conditions of its operation in preservation alluded to by Lupton 50 years ago. We find ourselves in a conundrum, with a steam engine that requires repair, but the significance of which extends beyond our own short horizons, therefore careful consideration must be given to the effect that repairs would have on that fabric and as a result on the experiences of future audiences.



The Kew Bridge Steam Museum followed the successful restoration and return to steam of the 1820 Boulton and Watt engine with return to steam of the 90 inch. The museum then went through a time of development and consolidation during which time the trading company Historic Steam Ltd was further developed and other engine exhibits arrived to populate the former boiler house no. 1, now the Steam Hall. Attention turned to the Maudslay as the next most viable prospect, over the Bull which was thought to be extremely worn and the 100 inch that presented a whole host of challenges all on its own! Work began during 1983.

A non-rotative engine such as those found at Kew Bridge must have a method by which the outdoor, or pump stroke is controlled. The first step was to remove most of the weight from the balance box at the pump end, this reduces the amount of work the engine has to do, thus the steam consumption, and lessens the gravitational effect of the weight falling on the pump stroke. Removing weight from the balance box also has a detrimental effect on the thermodynamics of the engine, making performance erratic and unpredictable. Lupton would certainly have expressed this. The descent of the remaining weight is then controlled with water, the work being done, and in the case of the Maudslay, with no filter beds available to pump from, a hole was chain drilled into the side of the discharge pipe and a gate valve fitted to it to provide a restriction. This is located inside the pump tank and is normally permanently immersed in water. This alteration and its component parts are vital to the operation of the engine in its preservation setting, they control the speed of the outdoor stroke and if a failure were to occur severe damage would be done to the engine, not to mention any bystanders. These parts are not easily inspected, and because of the nature of the fitment, this alteration cannot be reversed.

As was experienced with the 90-inch engine, the size of the heat sink available to absorb the heat from the spent steam was increased by circulating water from the cistern to the pump tank and allowing cool water to drop back to the cistern by gravity. Whilst the 90-inch engine does not have any fitted method of circulating this water, the Maudslay does have a pump to do this, but it was decided not to use the beam driven pump and fit an external electric motor driven pump instead. This pump often gave problems with priming caused by low water levels in the pump tank, and was removed during 2016 when work began to cast a bucket for the engine’s own lift pump and bring this back into active service – unfortunately this work was not completed before the engine’s final failure.

During restoration the main pump ram was found to have concentrated areas of corrosion where it had sat in the pump gland with no airflow for forty years whilst idle; although the condition of the ram improved, these works were never entirely successful and the engine wore the pump gland packing at an alarming rate, which resulted in the last year of operation with the pump gland having to be submerged to maintain pump prime and safe operation.

As has been mentioned the weight in the balance box was reduced. The weights consisted of lead and cast iron blocks held from rattling around by being infilled with rivet hole punchings and sand. The original balance was 27 tons, during restoration 11 tons were removed and sold as scrap to defray the costs of the restoration.

The remainder of the restoration consisted mainly of cleaning and polishing, adjustment as required and the renewal of some bearings. The cylinder cover was not lifted. The engine first moved under steam on 17th March 1985 and was launched for public demonstration in April of the same year.

The engine worked regularly for public demonstrations, often swapping in an either / or pattern with the Boulton and Watt. At this time there were often staff on site overnight, and with a keen eye on the finances the boiler would be lit early on a Saturday morning, steam put to the engines at 9am and the engines being considered ‘hot’ by hand testing on the exhaust valve cover and ready for public demonstration sometimes as early as midday. This sequence continued every weekend until the early 2000s when, as a cost saving measure the operation of the Cornish engines was reduced to once a month, and this pattern continued until 2017. Signs of stress were present in all the engines when I first came to know them in 2014, the faults, many and varied were just ‘worked around’ as if that was the norm – sat writing this now, I am as complicit in this as anyone else, that was the way things were.

The Maudslay engine had a bit of a reputation, and not in a good way. During the mid-1990s whilst the engine was being warmed a loud bang was heard from the engine house and it was found that the decorative cylinder cover had been displaced. Further investigation under the cover and removal of some of the lagging revealed that there was a crack in one of the cylinder cover ribs. It was decided that with the steam pressure available the risk was low and that operation of the engine would continue. Only a few blurry photographs of this damage exist. So what has happened?

The Maudslay engine, like others, is fitted with a steam jacket around the cylinder. The jacket is bolted to the cylinder base casting and the cylinder head is bolted to the jacket; the engine cylinder itself is held, concentric with the jacket, in compression between the base and the head –it is presumed that the Maudslay has a rust joint at the cylinder base and a bronze or cast iron ring at the head to effect the steam seal. Steam has been put onto the jacket, and the iron has begun to get hot, expanding as it does so, this was the warming practice at Kew Bridge when I came to know it, steam was not put into the cylinder until the last hour or so before a run. The stress caused by repeated fast thermal cycles, and differential expansion between the jacket and cylinder results in distortion of the components until the whole mass is hot, and is the cause of a break in the cylinder head and the failure of the cylinder head joint. From this point onwards the engine spewed condensation from under the decorative cylinder cover that would run onto the floor and drip on the heads of the visitors walking beneath. That was the way it was. The air pump on the Maudslay required regular attention, the piston itself being rope packed to effect a seal with the air pump cylinder bore, this would wear at a fast rate because of the effects of corrosion whilst the engine had been idle making the surface rough and it would be the air pump that would eventually seal the Maudslay’s fate.

Two identical incidents occurred on 13th July 1986 and 3rd July 1996 which resulted in the equilibrium valve handle being broken off. In both instance the driver had been attempting through judicious use of a spanner to quell the noise of the valve gear whilst the engine was running for public demonstration. The engine has always been somewhat rattly and compared to the other engines, badly fitted. Many attempts had been made, including by myself to bring about stable and even operating characteristics with this engine by adjusting cooling water flow to control vacuum, lengthening valve cut off and thus throttle opening and inlet timing – mostly to no avail – we soldiered on. Final repair works to the Maudslay engine were carried out during May 2015 when, during starting, a loud banging was heard from the cistern. The engine was stopped and the drain plug removed. With the floor plates lifted and volunteers in the depths of the cistern it was found that the injection water valve was fully open resulting in gallons of water gushing into the brick tank. The rod connecting the valve lid to the exhaust valve handle had broken in half, a victim of electrolytic corrosion caused by the combination of wrought iron and bronze components being connected together submerged in water. The valve lid had blown clean off and had to be recovered once the water level was sufficiently reduced. A replacement rod was made and within days the engine was ‘ready’ for operation once again.

Whilst the engine was being cleaned of brick dust caused by building works towards the end of 2015, it was noted that the whole engine had taken on a lean to the East, an effect most marked by extreme wear in the plug rod guides. Annual engine inspection for insurance purposes began in 2015 at which erosion on the equilibrium valve seats was noted, the only effect of which was that it was impossible for the driver to stop the engine in an emergency by holding the equilibrium valve closed. The speed of the outdoor movement on this engine is controlled not only by back pressure in the pump but by a butterfly valve, permanently set in the equilibrium pipe, which given the state of the equilibrium valve is being relied on as a primary method of control. The engine as has been noted could often be erratic when running, particularly on startup as vacuum is formed, the effects of this being compounded by the lack of balance weight. When running on the cataract the Maudslay would regularly short stroke and fail to latch the exhaust, the driver had to concentrate and could not talk to the visitors, who, in this engine house surrounded him at close quarters on three sides. Occasionally, with no apparent change in controls or situation, the engine would take a long stroke and had been known to ‘tap’ the blocks on the beam floor, there were many occasions where this was only averted by the driver closing the exhaust valve early.


The End

I am not sure a demonstration run of this engine could ever be described as normal; I and the other drivers have a deep sense of respect for these engines and their ability to ‘bite’ you if your concentration wanders. During a normal run on the afternoon of Saturday the 28th October 2017 a sudden over stroke occurred, resulting in a collision with the blocks and the rope packing on the air pump being torn causing the swift and noisy loss of vacuum. The rostered driver skillfully brought the engine under control and to rest.

On Wednesday 1st November 2017, John Porter (Trustee with responsibility for engineering) and I warmed through the engine, for testing and diagnosis purposes, all attempts to effect a start and maintain the engine in running condition failed. We agreed at that time that, taking all faults into account, the 1838 Maudslay engine was no longer fit, or safe for further operation. This was the first time in 40 years that the Museum faced the permanent failure of an engine in its collection, for myself and John it highlighted a number of other issues, not least that if we continued to ‘work around’ the problems that the Maudslay was the first failure, but would not be the last – similar faults, particularly with jacket and cylinder head joints, existed on nearly all the engines in the collection. I would estimate that in 106 years of operation, despite the regular repairs, the Maudslay engine was allowed to go cold, and be warmed up a few hundred times at most. Since its return to steam in 1985 I estimate that the engine has been warmed and cooled nearly 1000 times, and if any evidence of the detrimental effects of thermal cycling cast iron were required, this engine is the prime example


The Future

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. The Maudslay is not a sad story, much good has come from it. We now spend much more time warming through the plant and engines, this has resulted in a reduced operating schedule to control costs, but as a result we have dramatically reduced the number and speed of the thermal cycles. Warming through these big engines is now done with science and the drivers are armed with laser thermometers to monitor the progress of component temperatures as they work an engine up to operating condition. Steam is now allowed into the cylinder at the start of the process so that we avoid differential expansion of the cylinder and jacket, warming through is done with knowledge and skill, not by following instructions printed on a sheet, the human senses are key to measurement of success, no longer dead reckoning. As an example, we now spend nearly 48 hours warming and preparing the Bull engine for operation, and the change in its operating characteristics are marked with very few erratic movements now reported – this of course has resulted in a more enjoyable driver experience and a safer experience for visitors and engine alike. Whilst we are justly proud of our knowledge, it has come at a price, and it must be stressed, is not a slur on my forebears, without whose bravery and determination, we would not be here, playing with steam engines at all – we have just reached a different way of thinking as affected by our experiences.

What of the Maudslay? As has hopefully been shown, this is a very important piece of our industrial past, in many ways more so than the other engines in the Museum’s collection, and we have only recently, as a result of writing conservation management plans, discovered all this. Collections Committee agreed, and advised the Board of Trustees that repair and further operation were not in the best interests of this object, removing the cylinder head alone would result in damage to the lagging and potentially permanent damage to the cylinder cover. The Maudslay engine will be put into a state of preservation that does not prohibit operation at another point in the future, it may be, that all Lupton wrote comes true and the Maudslay is the only remaining viable option. The engine made its last movements under steam with a small invited audience that included Richard Maudslay, great, great grandson of Henry Maudslay in order to carry out the blocking procedure as the Metropolitan Water Board had done in 1944. The silence when the engine delicately landed on the blocks, under the skilful hands of Mr John Vineer, was palpable. In all honesty, I found it a bit emotional.

With the engine at half stroke, armed with knowledge of the restoration challenges faced in 1983, conservation works will be undertaken over time and will include:

  • Engine to be steamed and put onto its tall blocks the beam in the horizontal position
  • Engine to be cleaned of all oil and grease on external surfaces
  • Bright metalwork to be coated with Dry Coat rust preventer
  • Packings to be removed from:
    • Main pump gland
    • Feed pump / compressor glands
    • Air pump – rod gland and piston rope packing
    • Throttle valve gland
    • Inlet valve gland
    • Equilibrium valve gland
    • Equilibrium pipe butterfly valve gland
    • Exhaust valve gland
    • Piston rod gland
  • Water to be drained from and remains removed with wet vacuum:
    • Pump tank
    • Suction and discharge valves
    • Cistern
    • Hot well tank
  • All drain plugs above to be removed and wired near location for safe keeping
  • All water feeds / fill valves to be closed, checked that no water is passing and wired shut
  • Injection water valve to be disconnected from supply and the valve lid removed from the body. Valve lid to be wired onto rod for safe keeping
  • Feed pump rod to be re-slung on beam
  • Feed pump components to be reinstated under engine house floor
  • Lubricators to be removed, emptied and cleaned of oil then replaced
  • Plug rod guides and arbors to be opened, cleaned of grease, coated with Dry Coat and closed but left loose
  • Cylinder cladding and decorative cover to be inspected, photographed and labelled as encapsulating ACM
  • As above for valve chest
  • Intermediate steam stop valve to be removed and steam line blanked off (class 150 8’’ flange)
  • Cylinder warming jacket drain trap to be removed, drain and steam feed valve to be left open
  • Scoggans to be tightened, with valve gear in closed positions, to prevent visitor tamper
  • Paintwork to be cleaned of oil and polished



Given the challenges faced by the Museum operating steam in the 21st Century, caring for working objects that in some cases pre-date inter-city rail travel, it is felt that a positive decision has been made with respect to this object. It is also worthy of note that the 1820 Boulton and Watt engine is 18 years older than the Maudslay, and in comparison I don’t see the Science Museum operating Stephenson’s Rocket to give rides to visitors as a viable or acceptable future option for this national treasure.

The engines at Kew Bridge are national treasures, pioneers, the best of the best and whatever we think about whether or not they should be operated under steam, we can all agree that they must be cared for as befits their status, for the benefit of the future.


Edward Fagan BA (Hons)

Collections and Estates Manager – The London Museum of Water and Steam – October 2019