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Kent Archaeological Review extract

MWB Pumping Station, West Wickham.
by P Carter.
(Thames Basin Archaeological Observers' Group.)

The well station at Kentgate, West Wickham, TQ 379 645 on the Kent-Surrey border, is of special interest as it is the last of the Metropolitan Water Board's Kent area well stations still to be running on steam. The station was built in 1923 by Grace and March Ltd, Croydon, to the designs of H E Stilgoe, the then Chief Engineer of the MWB. The main engine house is visually of three storeys over a basement, in red brick with stone dressings. Adjacent are the single storey boiler house and ornamental red brick chimney.

The role of the station is to lift raw water from one or two wells and then pump it up to West Wickham reservoir. Power is supplied by a medium size triple expansion pumping engine, installed in 1923 by Hathom, Davey & Co Ltd, Leeds. Steam is provided by two Lancashire Boilers, one of 1922 by Ruston & Hornsby Ltd, Lincoln and the other made by Edwin Banks & Co, Oldbury, Notts, in 1937. For this type of work, the triple expansion engine still holds the blue riband for reliability, these engines often working 12 months without stopping.

The station has a reliable output of about 1½ million gallons per day and has a total staff of 16. It is proposed to replace the steam engine with two submerged electric pumps within the next year, when the station will be converted to automatic working, controlled probably from Shortland P Station, Beckenham.

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