News

 

Temporary Closure of the Beam Engine House

 

In 2017 asbestos was found in the Beam Engine House. We have had to completely close the building to all volunteers and visitors until the problem can be resolved. We needed to raise £435,000 to cover the total cost of the work and have had amazing success thanks to the generosity of our amazing supporters. Currently our shortfall is £45,000 and we are working avidly to obtain this final amount needed. The generosity of all who have donated so far is astounding and thank you so much for the recent donations received. We will not be able to thank you enough. We also want to thank Thames Water and Cory Riverside Energy for their generous support plus the invaluable advice and guidance given by Historic England and the London Borough of Bexley.

 

View our 'Get Involved' page to see how you can help in supporting us to obtain the final amount needed to enable us to open our amazing Beam Engine House to the public again and continue with our restoration work. 

 

History of the site

Built in 1865 as part of Joseph Bazelgettes London wide sewage scheme, and housing 4 of the most magnificent beam engines the world had ever seen, Crossness pumping station dealt with the sewage of South London from 1865 to 1953 (albeit with some modifications), but even it's James Watt engines, Romanesque architecture and fantastically beautiful decorative iron work could save the building from the inevitable.

The pumping station was abandoned in 1953 in favour of more efficient pumps and motive power.Left empty with its future uncertain, the engine house fell in to decay and was at the mercy of vandals, pigeons and the elements. Had it not been for the intervention of a group of enthusiasts in the early 1980s  then a jewel from the industrial 19th century may have been lost forever. Having secured its existence with a grade 1 listed status, the group went on to form  The Crossness Engines Trust in 1987 with the intention of restoring the once magnificent engine house.

In the early years, the volunteer workforce had just basic tools and the vision that they could resurrect the rusting vandalised hulks that the once great engines had become. Gradually the workforce, expertise and, thankfully, the tool kit grew. By 2003 the first of the beam engines 'Prince Consort' was put back into steam and started by HRH The Prince of Wales.

Work has continued tirelessly to this day. Restoration has been started on a second beam engine 'Victoria'. One half of the old valve house building has been transformed into a gallery of small engines, all relevant to the story of power and pumping. These engines have been painstakingly restored by volunteers and can be seen operating on open days. The Victorian formal gardens  have been restored to their original splendid design. We have a well equipped machine shop which makes the restoration work easier and on open days this can be viewed, sometimes with a machining demonstration. Along with a gift shop and Cafe, thanks to Lottery funding, the old boiler house now houses 'The Great Stink' exhibition which tells the story of the river Thames and Londons sanitation from medieval times to present day.

The Volunteer workforce which is always evolving has members with a wide range of skills and abilities. Volunteers alone have made their mark and ensured that a jewel from the past will remain sparkling for generations to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CROSSNESS

ENGINES

PRESERVING AN INDUSTRIAL CATHEDRAL

2019 Open Days Announced Soon