Broomy Hill Pumping Station


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Statutory Address:
Waterworks Museum Hereford, Broomy Hill, Hereford, HR4 0LJ


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Statutory Address:
Waterworks Museum Hereford, Broomy Hill, Hereford, HR4 0LJ

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

Location Description:
County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Former water pumping station, now a waterworks museum. Built in 1856, in a Classical style for the Hereford Corporation by the municipal engineer, Timothy Curley. Expanded in 1862, 1864, 1882, 1895 and 1906. The 2006 glazed extension to the east and south elevations is excluded from the listing.

Reasons for Designation

Broomy Hill pumping station, which was built in 1856 and expanded in 1862, 1864, 1882, 1895 and 1906, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Rarity: for its in situ triple-expansion steam engine by Worth Mckenzie, an engine at the forefront of technological development of steam-driven pumps. It is both rare and the earliest surviving example of its type in England; * Date: the original pumping station - engine house, boiler house and associated chimney stack are intact and save for the removal of the original plant, represent a largely complete and good example of a pre-1860 pumping station; * Architectural interest: a restrained Classical building using good-quality brickwork; the later additions match the original architectural style and materials giving the building a coherent architectural design; * Intactness: although the original plant has been removed, the different parts of the building are largely unaltered and it remains well-preserved with a good range of components, including important survivals of in situ machinery; * Historic interest: the gradual development of the building to include purpose-built blocks to house additional plant, adds to its historic importance since it illustrates technological developments in the provision of a safe and comprehensive municipal water supply in the C19 and C20; * Group value: it forms an important group of buildings with the associated water tower (Grade II) and the former foreman’s lodge, No. 86 Broomy Hill (Grade II).


Following the Hereford Improvement Act of 1854, the waterworks at Broomy Hill were constructed in 1854-6 at a cost of £35,000. The pumping station was erected on the first river terrace above the north bank of the River Wye, and pumped water from an intake conduit to the filter beds and reservoir above, supplying the water by gravity to the city of Hereford.

Designed and built under the supervision of Timothy Curley (1816-1882), the first municipal engineer of the City of Hereford, the pumping station comprised the two-bay boiler house and the single-bay engine house, with a sump beneath and the boiler chimney behind. The boiler house contained two Cornish boilers (now removed) and the engine house included a beam engine by Harvey’s of Hayle in Cornwall to a design by James Simpson & Co. The beam was supported on a single fluted column rather than the more usual arrangement of a horizontal entablature, and so was structurally independent of the building. Within a few years the original Simpson beam engine could not meet demand and in 1862 a second engine house was built to the west, with the same beam engine installed and a sump beneath. These engines were both scrapped in 1914. An identical Simpson beam engine has been installed in the second engine house, which is on loan from the National Museum of Wales. In 1864 a reserve boiler house and a coal store were added to the east end.

As Hereford continued to expand, with houses being built above the pumping station, the water tower was erected in 1883 with a 45,000 gallon tank. The existing beam engines were not suitable for the extra lift required to the tower tank, and a high-pressure pump by Joseph Evans & Co was installed in an annexe building added to the east end of the pumping station in 1882. The pump has since been removed.

In the early 1890s there were concerns about the capacity and maintenance costs of the beam engines, and the City Surveyor and Engineer John Parker, recommended a modern rotative steam engine. A vertical, inverted triple-expansion condensing steam engine by Worth Mackenzie and a Lancashire boiler by Riley Brothers, both of Stockton on Tees, were subsequently commissioned. And, by 1895 the Lancashire boiler had been inserted into the original boiler house and an engine house, constructed by a resident engineer of Worth Mackenzie, had been added to the west end of the pumping station to house the engine. The Worth Mackenzie triple-expansion engine was at the forefront of technology and could pump one million gallons of water every 12 hours. At Broomy Hill it performed two jobs: lifting raw water from the River Wye with three pumping rams and lifting clean water to summit of the tower with two high-pressure pumps. However, the demand for water from the tower became too great for the pumps to cope with and by 1906 a twin-cylinder Worth Mackenzie steam engine was installed in an annexe added to the west of the engine house. This was dedicated to lifting water to the tower tank. These two engines and the Lancashire boiler remain in situ.

In the C20 steam power was replaced by internal combustion engines, and then electric power. Broomy Hill was unusual in that it went straight to electric power, and electric pumps were installed in the base of the water tower in 1911, and in the original engine house in 1914. The steam engines were used intermittently during the Second World War and again in the 1950s during a major flood.

In 1960 the Herefordshire Waterboard was created, which in 1974 became part of the Welsh National Water Development Authority, now known as Dwr Cymru Welsh Water. A new pumping station was erected as well as a new water intake, and the old pumping station became The Waterworks Museum, leased to Herefordshire Waterworks Museum Ltd. In 2004 the slate roof coverings were renewed and much of the brickwork repointed. The glazed extension to the east and south elevation of the old pumping station was built in 2006.


Former water pumping station, now a waterworks museum. Built in 1856, in a Classical style for the Hereford Corporation by the municipal engineer, Timothy Curley. Expanded in 1862, 1864, 1882, 1895 and 1906. The 2006 glazed extension to the east and south elevations is excluded from the listing.

MATERIALS: built of red brick laid in Flemish and English bond, with a brick chimney stack and a stone plinth. The hipped and pitched roofs are covered in Welsh slates.

PLAN: the building is arranged as eight parallel blocks comprising, from east to west, the former pump annexe (1882), the former coal store and the reserve boiler house (1864), the original boiler house and the original engine house, with the boiler chimney behind (1856), the second engine house (1862), the triple-expansion engine house (1895) and the two-cylinder engine annexe (1906). To the east end and across the south (rear) elevation is a large single-story extension (2006) which is not of special interest.

EXTERIOR: the principal elevation faces north. The flat-roofed, single-storey, former water-tower pump annexe (east), now toilets, is set-back from the former coal store and the reserve boiler house. These two double-height, gabled bays are each three bays deep and their frontages, which are repeated to the bays to the west, are articulated by shallow recessed surfaces between brick pilasters and dentil cornices, with an oculus to the pediment. Both have a segmental arched entrance with a pair of timber doors, and a round-headed window above with glazing bars. The original boiler house (1856) is lower in height and has a hipped roof with a steam ventilator to the ridge. Its two-bay frontage has arched recesses with a round-headed sash window to the left and, to the right, a timber door with round-headed fanlight. The two engine houses to the west (1856 and 1862) have round-arched doorways with panelled doors. The engine house to the west end (1895) is wider and has a pair of timber doors with a Diocletian fanlight window above. This is repeated to the set-back, flat-roofed 1906 engine annexe. The rear elevation has a similar architectural treatment. Behind the original engine house is the square chimney stack with a moulded stone cornice. INTERIOR: the 1906 annexe has been converted to toilets, and the former coal store and reserve boiler house are now used as exhibition space with offices to the mezzanine level, and plasterboard ceilings inserted. The 1856 boiler house has King post roof trusses with angled struts with exhibition space to the left-hand bay and the 1895 Lancashire boiler by Rileys of Stockton to the right-hand bay. The engine has been removed from the 1856 engine house but beneath is the sump with a circular brick shaft and the surviving air vessel set behind a round brick arch. The west wall retains its round-headed sash windows with glazing bars. The attached second engine house has also had its original engine removed, but the sump survives beneath. The triple-expansion engine house, with ‘A’ frame roof trusses, and the attached engine annexe form a single space with glazed cream and brown tiles to the lower parts of the walls. Both the Worth Mckenzie inverted triple-expansion engine (1895) and the inverted double cylinder engine (1906) survive in situ.


Books and journals
Dr Noel Meeke, , 'Industrial Archaeology News' in Waterworks Museum - Hereford, , Vol. 146, (Autumn 2008), 6-7
The Waterworks Museum - Hereford, 'The working museum which tells the story of drinking water'
The Waterworks Museum - Hereford, 'Water on Tap: water supplies in Herefordshire yesterday and today' (2010)


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 is 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

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