Engine House at Sandfields Pumping Station


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Sandfields Pumping Station, Chesterfield Road, Lichfield


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Statutory Address:
Sandfields Pumping Station, Chesterfield Road, Lichfield

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Lichfield (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Engine house at Sandfields Pumping Station, now disused. It was built in 1872-73 by Henry Naden for the South Staffordshire Waterworks Company as an extension to their now demolished pumping station of 1858.

Reasons for Designation

Engine house at Sandfields Pumping Station, now disused, built in 1872-73 by Henry Naden for the South Staffordshire Waterworks Company, is listed at Grade II*, for the following principal reasons: * Technological interest: the interior of the engine house is largely complete, retaining its original Cornish beam engine, along with cast iron staircases, oil lamps and king post roof structure; * Rarity: it is only one of four pumping stations in England to retain original Cornish beam engines in situ. It is also one of only eight Cornish beam engines to survive nationally in a waterworks context; * Architectural interest: it is architecturally accomplished building displaying considerable attention to detail in its use of polychromatic brickwork and classical embellishment; * Local interest: it retains the sole surviving engine of any type to be manufactured by J & G Davies of the Albion Foundry, Tipton; * Historic interest: as both the sole surviving building from the first pumping station to be constructed by the South Staffordshire Waterworks Company and as a local response to the increasing demand for potable water from the industrial towns of the Black Country.


The South Staffordshire Waterworks Company was formed by an Act of Parliament in 1853 to supply water to the industrial towns of the Black Country. It was founded by the civil engineer John Robinson McClean (1818-1873) who devised a scheme to utilise the springs and streams in the vicinity of Lichfield. Its principal elements included the building of a pumping station at Sandfields and the use of Minster and Stowe Pools, former mill ponds, as impounding reservoirs. A three-quarter mile long rock-cut tunnel linked the reservoirs to the sump wells at the pumping station whilst an 11-mile supply main was laid alongside the South Staffordshire Railway to carry water to a surge stack at Brownhills before it fell under gravity to a reservoir in Walsall and several distribution mains. Although plans were initially drawn up in 1855, it was not until 1857 when work began in earnest, with the pumping engines being inaugurated in October 1858.

The pumping station was designed by Edward Adams of London and built by Messrs Branson and Gwyther of Birmingham. It was equipped with two single-cylinder, condensing, rotative beam engines, supplied by James Watt and Company of Soho, Birmingham. In 1866 a third beam engine was installed. The engines were initially powered by five Lancashire boilers, but by the late C19 a further four boilers had been installed. In July 1871, William Vawdry, the Company engineer, recommended the installation of a fourth engine due to the inadequacy of the existing pumping capacity. A month later, the tender to supply a new Cornish beam engine was awarded to J and G Davies of the Albion Foundry in Tipton. Henry Naden, a Birmingham-based architect, was commissioned to design the engine house and supervise its construction whilst Bennett and Company of Lichfield were appointed builder. Work began on site in early 1872, with Naden also supervising the sinking of the well. Although the manufacture of the engine was planned to be completed in nine months, Messrs Davies ran into financial difficulties and were declared bankrupt in January 1873 with the work still incomplete. The engine was finally completed later in 1873 under the direction of William Vawdry.

In 1923 the three rotative beam engines were dismantled and replaced with two Sultzer horizontal uniflow steam engines. At the same time the company started constructing a filtration plant which opened in 1927.

Most of the original pumping station buildings, including the engine house, boiler house and chimney, were demolished in 1966, with the Cornish beam engine house being retained. A new pumphouse was subsequently built on the basement of the 1858 engine house.

In 1997 the South Staffordshire Water Company entered into a voluntary agreement with the Environment Agency to cease abstraction at Lichfield, resulting in the closure of the pumping station. The filtration plant was demolished in 1998, leaving the Cornish beam engine house and the late-C20 pumphouse as the only major structures still standing.


Engine house at Sandfields Pumping Station, now disused. It was built in 1872-73 by Henry Naden for the South Staffordshire Waterworks Company as an extension to their now demolished pumping station of 1858.

MATERIALS: of blue brick with polychromatic red and yellow brick dressings and stone sills. The roof is of slate.

PLAN: the engine house is rectangular on plan, aligned north-west to south-east. Attached to the rear is a pumphouse of 1966, which is of lesser interest, and is built over the basement of the 1858 engine house.

EXTERIOR: the building is of a free Italianate style, being of two tall storeys over a basement. Its principal elevation, which faces south-west, is of four bays and accentuated by polychrome brick bands at ground-floor level, at the sill level and springing line of the ground-floor windows, immediately beneath the sill level of the first-floor windows and as a shallow frieze. The ground floor has three, tall, round-headed windows of gauged brick with polychrome brick banding to the jambs and small-paned, cast-iron glazing with pivoted panels, all set within round-headed recesses with brick apron panels, ashlar sills and keystones. The main entrance is set within the second bay from the right-hand side and is accessed by a right-turn flight of stone steps with stone-coped brick walls topped with an iron handrail. It has boarded double doors with an ashlar lintel and a tall, round-headed fanlight. The four first-floor windows, though smaller, are identical to those on the ground floor, set within flat-headed recesses with polychrome brick friezes decorated with a lozenge pattern. Above the frieze there is a stone-coped parapet with decorative machicolations. The single bay returns have an identical architectural treatment, with the right-hand return having a single window to each floor. A single-storey annexe adjoins the left-hand return. It has a similar doorway entrance to that of the main range and a round-headed basement entrance. Above the annexe there is a single window. The rear elevation is formed by the external wall of the original engine house of 1858. Attached at ground floor level is a pumphouse added in 1966 and partly built over the basement of the 1858 engine house. The walling above this is blind. INTERIOR: the internal walls of the engine house are identical to the external walls, being of blue brick with polychromatic red and yellow brick dressings. The east wall is the exterior wall of the original engine house of 1858 and has blocked window openings with late-C20 openings cut through at ground floor level. It retains a complete Cornish beam engine of 1873, by J and G Davies of Tipton, rising the full height of the building. The bearing for the beam is supported by a Tuscan arcade of three semi-circular arches comprised of stone responds and two fluted cast iron columns. The floor is of large stone slabs with iron grates to several openings. Access from the ground floor to both the first floor and the upper beam floor is provided by a cast iron staircase. The first floor is constructed from cast iron beams covered with a cast iron plate floor whilst the upper beam floor is pine boarded with timber joists and cast iron railings enclosing the beam. All the cast iron work was manufactured and installed by Messrs Thornewill and Wareham of Burton-on-Trent. The roof structure consists of king post trusses with decorative stop chamfers with ends resting on stone pads set into the walls. To the basement there is a well pump and condenser/cistern.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Hayes, G, A Guide to Stationary Steam Engines, (1981), 142
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Staffordshire, (1974)
Sherlock, R, The Industrial Archaeology of Staffordshire, (1976)
Bradbury, J, 'Industrial Archaeology: The Journal of the History of Industry and Technology' in Sandfields Pumping Station, South Staffordshire Waterworks Company, (May 1971)
History of Sandfields, accessed from http://morturn.wordpress.com/sandfields-pumping-station/
Leerson, J Van and Williams, B, The History of the South Staffordshire Waterworks Company 1853-1989,


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 02 Sep 2001
Reference: IOE01/04650/21
Rights: Copyright IoE Dr Anthea Hatfield. Source Historic England Archive
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