Edgbaston Pumping Station including attached store room, standby generator room and ornamented chimney stack


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Edgbaston Pumping Station, Waterworks Road, Birmingham, B16 9DD


Ordnance survey map of Edgbaston Pumping Station including attached store room, standby generator room and ornamented chimney stack
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Statutory Address:
Edgbaston Pumping Station, Waterworks Road, Birmingham, B16 9DD

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

Birmingham (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
SP 04613 86426


A water pumping station of 1862, designed by John Henry Chamberlain for Birmingham Corporation.

Reasons for Designation

Edgbaston Pumphouse and attached Store Room, Standby Generator Room and Ornamented Chimney Stack are listed for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural quality: the strong forms of the pumping station and the scholarly, and inspired, adaptation of an Italian Gothic campanile tower to the exterior of an industrial chimney show the power of the youthful John Chamberlain's architecture;

* Historic interest: the importance of civic amenities to those who governed Birmingham in the later C19 is well demonstrated by the Edgbaston Pumping Station buildings;

* Historic influence: the author JR Tolkein lived nearby as a child and the tower is believed to have inspired some parts of his writing, particularly 'The Two Towers' volume of the Lord of the Rings saga.


The building formerly contained a pair of Lilleshall vertical compound engines. These have been removed and the forebuildings on the East side have been demolished and their archways blocked. The building is now principally used for storage and houses a standby generator.

Two further buildings, joined in line by narrow link ranges to the south of the present structure, are marked on the Ordnance Survey map published in 1918, although they are not shown on the Warwickshire Ordnance Survey map of 1903. Photographs dating from the 1970s show that the northernmost of these two later additional buildings had a gabled roof of lesser pitch to the original Chamberlain buildings. It has now been demolished.


A water pumping station of 1862, designed by John Henry Chamberlain for Birmingham Corporation.

MATERIALS: red brick laid in English bond with blue brick diapering and stone dressings and a roof of alternating bands of plain and fishscale slates.

PLAN: one and two storeys with basement and a chimneystack in the form of a campanile, of four stages.

EXTERIOR: the east front has four gabled bays. The left hand bay is taller than the others and projects slightly. Its lower body has a pair of half-glazed doors approached by an external staircase with stone treads. There are buttresses with offsets at either side of the doorway which has a segmental head. The gable has stone kneelers and coping and there is a cusped, circular window to the gable, set in a recessed panel which has chevron brick patterns and alternating red and blue brick voussoirs. Immediately to the right of this is a bay with a reduced archway at ground floor level, which formerly connected to a demolished forebuilding. This has C20 brick infill and double doors to the centre. There is a stone head to the original arch, above which a stone corbel projects. Above this is a smaller, circular window with quatrefoil set in a decorated recessed panel with voussoirs, as before. At right again are two bays which house one single, large arch. At either side are lattice patterns of diapering and there are two circular windows to the gable with trefoil patterns. To the ridge of each of the gabled roofs is a penthouse. Projecting stone corbels and cut H-beams indicate where the roof of the demolished forebuilding was attached. The south front has, at right, a projecting block with two tall lancet windows, divided by a buttress with offsets. The lancets have metal-framed fenestration. Below the left window is a door with cambered arch and this and the lower part of the window are blocked with brick infill. There is a dentilled cornice to the top of the wall and, in the roof slope above are four gabled dormer windows. Recessed, and to the left of this is the chimney, which takes the form of a campanile. This is joined to the main block by a low range which has a pointed arch which forms a pedestrian throughway. The tower has decorative string courses and bands of stone and blue brick across the four principle stages, which are repeated on each of its sides. The lowest has three lancets with joined heads. The stage above this has a two-light opening with trefoil heads to the lights and a quatrefoil to the ashlar apex. The third stage has a single lancet to the centre of each side and above this is a decorative sculpted flush band with quatrefoils. The topmost stage has a two-light opening to each side with panels of rich carving below. Each has a stone mullion at centre and cusped heads to the lights. Above this, console brackets support the projecting balcony, which runs around the tower. The balcony has a wrought iron balustrade and behind this is the octagonal, panelled flue of the chimney. At the top a truncated spire forms the mouth of the chimney. There is a tall battered buttress against the lower body of the south front of the tower, which may be a later addition.

The west front has the projecting tower at left. To right of this are three gables with circular windows, as before. There is a lean-to projection which masks part of the lower body of the front.

The north face has the tower at right and the north face of one of the former engine halls to its left, which has four, round-headed windows. The penthouse to the ridge has wooden panels to its side with decorative quatrefoils.

INTERIOR: not fully inspected for health and safety reasons. Views through windows show that two of the former engine halls are now empty and a back-up generator for the site is believed to be housed in another.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Ballard, P, Birmingham's Victorian and Edwardian Architects, (2009), 179
Thornton, R, Victorian Buildings of Birmingham, (2006), 5


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

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: 17 Aug 2000
Reference: IOE01/02460/19
Rights: Copyright IoE Dr John Davis. Source Historic England Archive
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