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Museum of Power – SPAB Event

Museum of Power – SPAB Event

November 27, 2023 Rachel Finlay Comments Off

Bakers of Danbury are proud to support the Essex Regional Group of The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB).

The SPAB run regular events and tours to places of historical interest and our Contracts Director Mark Holland was delighted to get out of the office and delve into the Essex countryside to attend the recent SPAB Essex event at the Museum of Power in Langford, Essex and the nearby Beeleigh Mill.

A little bit of history - Langford Pumping Station

Langford, a small Essex village, was home to a mere 182 until the arrival of the Southend Waterworks Company (SWC) in the early 1920s. Situated on the banks of the River Blackwater, Langford’s location made it an ideal choice as the site for a new steam driven waterworks complex. In 1929 the pump station opened marking a key moment in the history of the village with the pump station delivering approximately seven million gallons of drinking water to the surrounding areas all through the power of steam.

In 1960, the Company replaced the steam plant with three semi-automatic electrically operated pump sets. On 31st October 1963 the steam pumping engines were shut down for the last time.

Through restoration and conservation, the pump station now stands as the Langford Museum of Power where it still hosts the magnificent Lilleshall triple-expansion steam engine. In April 2011, this was returned to steam for the first time in 50 years earning the museum “Engineering Heritage Listed Status”.

Beeleigh Falls and Beeleigh Mill

The tour also included a visit to the nearby Beeleigh Falls and Beeleigh Mill which for an even more rural area within easy walking distance of the Museum of Power, was another redundant steam powered engine.
This Mill used steam to power 5 mill stones when there was insufficient water. The steam power beam engine is still in its original position.

The Grade II* site now comprises the building housing, the steam engine and the drive gearing for its millstones, the brick housing for one of the waterwheels, and the two adjacent brick-lined barge docks used for loading flour for shipment to London.

Mark Holland shares his reflections

‘Exploring our architectural heritage has always fascinated me and this occasion was certainly no exception. 

Witnessing so many historical and operational steam exhibits was a real privilege. It was remarkable to comprehend the immense power of the pumping station and the engineering that enabled water to be supplied throughout Essex such as to Southend-on-Sea some 30 miles away.’

Our group was given an excellent tour of both sites, a fantastic lunch at the tea rooms with the explanations provided by the volunteers from the Pumping Station and the Beeleigh Mill restoration Group all truly fascinating.’

Find out more

If you would like to learn more about future events of the SPAB Essex Regional Group, please click here.