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Eastney Pumping Station
Henderson Road, Eastney, Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK
associated engineer
Sir Frederick Bramwell
date  1865 - 1868, 1886 - 1887, opened 9th May 1887, 1904
era  Victorian  |  category  Building  |  reference  SZ672993
ICE reference number  HEW 504
Eastney Pumping Station was built for Portsmouthís main drainage system for the disposal of raw sewage. A second station was constructed on the site almost twenty years after the first, to increase capacity, with additional pumps installed in the early 20th century. The Victorian steam pumps, later replaced by diesel pumps, have been preserved in situ and the buildings converted into a museum.
Portsmouth is situated on a flat island of 2,331 hectares with little natural drainage and many areas below sea level. As the city grew, water supplies were often polluted with sewage, resulting in outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as cholera. Board of Health enquiries in 1850-1 noted a report of raw sewage in an open ditch 1.5m wide and 30.5m long, emptied only once in 19 years.
A drainage system was completed by 1868, with 17.7km of 1.2m diameter sewers laid to a fall of 1 in 5,000. Untreated sewage was pumped to sea on the ebb tide at the entrance to Langstone Harbour, by the first pumping station at Eastney. Its pumps were powered from a steam-engine house (SZ665989) ó a slate-roofed brick building of one and two storeys the west elevation of which faces Henderson Road.
As the population continued to increase, sewage disposal became more difficult. The tide-dependant discharge allowed sewage to accumulate in the sewers. Pumping for longer periods did not clear the pipelines and caused beach fouling.
Sir Frederick Joseph Bramwell (1818-1903) was consulted in 1882, when Portsmouthís population was at 150,000. He recommended installing three retaining tanks, of 20.5 million litres total capacity, into which sewage was pumped continuously. Two new steam engines driving reciprocating pumps emptied the retaining tanks into three 1.1m diameter cast iron outfall pipes during the two hours of maximum ebb out of Langstone Harbour.
A pump house and adjoining boiler house were constructed to contain the new machinery. Both buildings are of two storeys with attics, steeply pitched slate roofs and stone-capped gables. The exterior walls are in polychrome brickwork ó mostly red with yellow bands and semicircular keystone window arches, and blue plinths.
The pump house features greater architectural embellishment, including Doric pilasters and stone steps at the entrance, buttressed corners and dormer windows. It is 21.95m high and occupies a footprint some 12.2m by 9.1m with gables to the north and south elevations, and a basement.
On the north side of the pump house is the shorter but longer boiler house with double north and south gables and two large round windows to the north elevation. Some 5m north of the boiler house is a red brick chimney strengthened with iron bands. Its base is octagonal, topped with a ring of blue and yellow brick courses, and the upper part is circular. Originally the chimney was twice its present height.
Inside the pump house, cast iron columns support iron walkways around a pair of two cylinder Woolf compound rotative beam engines manufactured by James Watt & Co in Soho, Birmingham. The company won the contract under competitive tender, and at £8,750 was the third cheapest of 12 tenderers.
The high pressure cylinder of each 112kW (150hp) engine is 508mm in diameter and 1.37m long, and the low pressure cylinder 762mm by 1.83m, with a flywheel 4.6m in diameter. The cylinders have piston valves with an internal high pressure cut-off operated via a connection from the beam.
In 1904, additional pumping capacity was installed. A new two storey engine house (SZ665989) to the west of the pump house was constructed of red brick in Flemish bond, with a slate roof and three external metal flues. Originally it contained three Crossley gas engine and Tongye centrifugal pump pairs, though only two remain in situ.
The James Watt steam engines were retired in about 1937, though they were kept operational until 1954 as back-up pumps. When steam pumping stopped, new pumps powered by diesel engines were installed. After 1954, maintenance of the 1887 engines was discontinued and the boiler plant scrapped.
In September 1972, the former Portsmouth Corporation pumping station was Grade II listed. The group listing includes the 1865 engine house, the 1887 pump house, boiler house and chimney, and the 1904 gas engine house. The site is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
The redundant pump house and adjoining boiler house became industrial heritage, opened to the public as Eastney Beam Engine Museum. Around 1980, the rusty and derelict Victorian steam engines and their surroundings underwent extensive restoration funded by grants from Portsmouth City Council, Hampshire County Council and the Department of the Environment. One of the two engines can be operated in steam, and its cylinders are lagged with varnished timber planking.
Two stationary locomotive-type boilers by Marshall Sons & Co of Gainsborough were installed in the boiler house. They are powered by burning waste wood (2010). The building also contains a horizontal single cylinder engine, built in 1888 by Dixon & Sons Iron Works of Portsmouth, a horizontal duplex non-rotative feed pump and a Weir pump. Another of the museumís exhibits is a grasshopper beam engine of about 1860, by Easton & Anderson of London, previously used on Farlington Marshes. It is steamable and has a slide valve cylinder 305mm by 406mm, beam 1.2m long and flywheel 1.45m in diameter.
On 15th September 2000, heavy rain generated a lot of stormwater, rapidly overloading the sewerage network. Eastney Pumping Station was flooded and some 750 properties in Southsea deluged with 1m of foul water.
After 2000, raw sewage was no longer discharged to sea at Eastney. A 7.8km tunnel beneath Langstone Harbour connects the pumping station with the water treatment works at Budds Farm (SU707054), Brockhampton. Sewage from the city is treated and the cleaned effluent returned to Eastney, where it is released through a 5.7km long sea outfall into the Solent deep water channel.
In 2007, improvements were made at Budds Farm, including the insallation of four tanks to hold 7 million litres of stormwater. Four larger storage tanks (SZ684993) were constructed underground to the east of Fort Cumberland, with a total capacity of 40 million litres. If necessary under storm or emergency conditions, screened and diluted wastewater can be discharged from outfalls at Budds Farm and Fort Cumberland, subject to Environment Agency consent.
Between June 2008 and March 2010, an underground pumping station (SZ672993) was constructed at the east end of Bransbury Park, to the north west of Eastney Pumping Station. It provides back-up to the existing station, pumping stormwater and sewage to the storage tanks. The old pumping station has four large diesel pumps and two small diesel pumps, and the new one four electric submersible pumps.
Eastney Pumping Stationís mechanical and electrical equipment was upgraded and its supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system renewed, allowing process control and data monitoring, collection and handling.
In 2013-5, work was carried out to separate surface water flows from Portsmouthís combined sewerage network, which collects rainwater and raw sewage in the same pipes. It was one of the largest separation programmes attempted and diverts up to 6,000 million litres per second of peak flow from the combined system.
Contractor: John Mowlem & Co
Pumping engines: James Watt & Co, Birmingham
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH South

Eastney Pumping Station