The archive is comprised of Metropolitan Board of Works and London County Council records from the 1850's to the 1990’s, sludge vessel log books, publications, patents for sanitary ware dating from 1894 to 1949, and copies of the 1862 & 1888 plan books for the site. The media collection is formed of videos, slides and photographs. The archive has a collection of information about former Crossness staff members and their families, some of which lived on-site in the worker's cottages.
The museum also holds a reference library of books covering topics such as engineering, sanitation, and Victorian London.
If you wish to book an appointment to visit the archive please email . Please note that appointments are only available on Tuesdays, Fridays, or Sundays, and the archive room is climate controlled, so warm clothing is advised.
The museum has a store of UK sanitary ware, Victorian domestic items and paintings. The museum has over 400 artefacts including a variety of nineteenth and twentieth-century toilet bowls, bed pans, chamber pots, and commodes, as well as bathroom items. The collection also includes scale models of the Boiler House and other ancillary Crossness buildings, personal items relating to Joseph Bazalgette, and objects left behind by former staff members, such as a pair of leather boots.
If you wish to book an appointment to view the artefacts in the museum store please email. Please note that appointments are only available on Tuesdays, Fridays, or Sundays.
An exhibition consisting of information boards and videos tells visitors the story of London sanitation from dirt and disease to the improvements made by the construction of the main drainage system in the 1860s. The museum has sanitary ware objects (toilets, bed pans, chain pulls), on permanent display in the Boiler House and a collection of small working engines available to view in the Valve House.
Beam Engine House
The museum's star attractions are the four Victorian triple expansion beam engines in the Grade 1 Listed Beam Engine House.
i. Prince Consort – this engine has been fully restored, and is operational on steaming days
ii. Victoria – this engine is currently under restoration
iii. Albert Edward – this engine is in the condition it was left in in the 1950's
iv. Alexandra – this engine is in the condition it was left in in the 1950's
This outbuilding houses nineteenth and twentieth-century tools which are still operational today and used by the volunteers undertaking restoration work.
A collection of small working engines powered by compressed air.
The locomotive Bazalgette, which has been restored by the Crossness volunteers, is also on view.
To view the artefacts on display, the beam engines, or the workshop objects, please visit on one of our open days.
Behind the Scenes Archive Tours
Have you ever wondered what an archivist does?
Would you like to explore some of the treasures of the collection?
Join us on a free tour with the museum’s archivist on Sunday open days. There is no need to book, just meet at the top of the stairs in the Boiler House.
We are happy to announce that Archive Tours are back by popular demand from January 2022. We have made a few changes to reflect Covid restrictions, such as limiting the number of attendees and asking everyone to wear a mask.
Please note that we are only looking to collect artefacts or archive material that meets the following conditions:
Themes and priorities for future collecting
The Trust is looking to collect items relating to Victorian London, industrial archaeology, engineering, personalities involved in the sanitation of London (such as Joseph Bazalgette and Edwin Chadwick), public health (especially water borne nineteenth century diseases such as cholera), and sanitation. The Trust's resources (i.e. storage space and finances) will be taken into account when considering the acceptance of new items, to ensure that all objects have adequate care. The informational value of potential acquisitions will also be deliberated, to ensure they provide useful information for researchers who use the Trust's archive.
The museum does not aim to collect further items of furniture or natural history, unless they are of express relevance to the Crossness site. Any natural history objects which are in contravention of the 2013 ICOM Code of Ethics for Natural History Museums, and other relevant legislation, will not be accessioned into the museum's collection. Space and resources will be taken into consideration to ensure the museum can provide the best possible care to all accessioned items. The museum will take care not to accept duplicate items.
Collecting policies of other museums
The museum will take account of the collecting policies of other museums and other organisations collecting in the same or related areas or subject fields. It will consult with these organisations where conflicts of interest may arise or to define areas of specialism, in order to avoid unnecessary duplication and waste of resources.
Specific reference is made to the following museum(s)/organisation(s):
London Museum of Water & Steam (formerly Kew Bridge Steam Museum)
Museum of London
Bexley Heritage Trust
The Crossness Archive aims to:
Collect and Preserve archival material which relates to the history of Crossness or to sanitation in general.
Catalogue these materials according to SPECTRUM procedures, and make them accessible to the public.
Provide suitable conditions for the storage and preservation of all of the archive materials held by the Trust.
A key priority is expanding the archive’s existing records about the people who lived and worked at Crossness, as well as photographs and plans of the site. The museum will collect archival material in a variety of formats, including records, books, photographs, slides and videos.
Material acquired by the Crossness archives shall become its permanent property, until the archivist deems it no longer relevant to the archives, in which case it may be deaccessioned. No item will be deaccessioned without the written approval of the Board.
The museum will exercise due diligence, and make every effort not to acquire, whether by purchase, gift, bequest of exchange, any object or specimen unless the Board or responsible officer is satisfied that the museum can acquire a valid title to the item in question.
The museum will not acquire any object or specimen unless it is satisfied that the object or specimen has not been acquired in, or exported from, its country of origin (or any intermediate country in which it may have been legally owned) in violation of that country’s laws. (For the purposes of this paragraph ‘country of origin’ includes the United Kingdom).
In accordance with the provisions of the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, which the UK ratified with effect from November 1 2002, and the Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003, the museum will reject any items that have been illicitly traded. The Board will be guided by the national guidance on the responsible acquisition of cultural property issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in 2005.
The museum does not hold or intend to acquire any human remains.
Biological and geological material
The museum will not acquire any biological or geological material.
The museum does not plan to acquire any further archaeological material other than that found on site.
If you wish to donate an item to the museum which meets these criteria please email with a description of the object. Please note that we can only accept an object if we feel that is relevant to the collection and we have the space and resources to care for it.
PRESERVING AN INDUSTRIAL CATHEDRAL