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The steam engines of Brede

Brede features beautifully maintained examples of historic engineering and provides a rare chance to see the past in action and participate in its preservation for the future.

 

Nowadays we take it for granted that when we turn on the tap, out comes quality water.

But how is it moved around? The answer is in pipes, propelled with the help of high pressure pumps.

But in the 1900s much reliance was given to steam power to lift water from deep wells into treatment works. Then the clean water needs to be pumped to local reservoirs built on high-ground for distribution by gravity to homes and businesses.

Giants of Brede

In the 1960s, many of our Victorian and Edwardian engineering masterpieces were demolished, but some survived, such as the Giants of Brede steam pumping engines

Just six miles from Hastings stands the Brede Waterworks site, where two of its original triple expansion steam engines are housed in Grade II listed buildings.

The tall brick engine houses display striking architectural features in the baroque and Art Deco styles of the 1900s and 1930s

Brede steam engine houses

At Brede you will see several 'period' examples of British engineering being renovated to impressive high standards.

First there is a 410hp triple expansion steam pumping engine built by Tangyes of Birmingham in 1904 and restored to original colours for its centenary. 

It is housed in the original waterworks building built by the Hastings Corporation Water Department. 

Secondly, there is another engine to a more modern design, installed in 1940 despite the start of World War Two.

Numbered 5058, researchers have confirmed it to be the last of its type supplied by Worthington Simpson of Newark and its 420hp is capable of pumping 3.5 million gallons per day against a lift of 515ft into the service reservoirs at Fairlight and Baldslow.
 

It is a wonderful opportunity to see the fabulous engineering of the past. The visit was an excellent way of finding out more about our industrial heritage and I would definitely recommend it

Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings & Rye

Thirdly, a range of water artefacts from an earlier collection kept by Folkestone and Dover Water Services is displayed in the old boiler house.

A noteworthy exhibit is the first triple expansion horizontal steam pumping engine made by the Simpsons in 1889. All the engines are currently being run by compressed air but will in due course be operated by steam.

In its heyday 33 men were employed at the waterworks. Many lived locally and there is a fascinating social history story still to be researched.

 
 
 
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