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Sandfields Waterworks, Lichfield


Super Moderator
I have recently been approached by Lichfield District Council\'s planning office concerning the redundant pumping station at Sandfields, Lichfield.

Sandfields Pumping Station was built in 1852 to supply clean water to the Back Country because 'The natural sources of water have mostly failed and been diminished by reason of the mining operations carried on in the parish and neighbourhood'.

The waterworks supplied water to Wednesbury Tipton, Kingswinford, Bilston, Darlaston, Oldbury, Sedgley, Stourbridge and Rowley to name but a few.

The building contains one of the finest examples of a Cornish Style beam engine, built by Jonah and George Davies of Tipton, therefore it is an integral to the industrial development of the area.

It is also a very fine example of Victorian engineering at its best.

The waterworks is now redundant, and the land was sold to a developer in 2003 who now owns the building and engine. The building and the engine have listed status.

As part of the planning permission to develop the site, an S106 agreement stipulated that the developer must maintain the building and contents, then donate it to a charitable trust for preservation.

I am giving my time to this project because I believe that objects of heritage such as this can tell quite remarkable stories of ordinary people and their lives. Unfortunately, this building and engine, which gave so much to the lives of the people of the Black Country is in fact dying a slow death. It now need some people who will help and support it back to life, so that it can continue to tell its story to the generation of today, and the generations of tomorrow.

If any of you are interested in helping with the many jobs necessary for the running of the Beam Engine and Museum we need your help now.

Are you willing to attend three or four open days a year to assist as a guide etc?

Have you business administration skills and/or experience in fund raising and the generation of applications to relevant funding bodies?

Have you archive research, retrieval, collating and storing expertise or experience?

Have you mechanical or electrical engineering or other relevant skills to help maintain and operate the Beam Engine?

The above is only an outline of the range of skills and experience we need and any help would be apriciated. If you would like to help support the setting up of a trust for the Waterworks at Sandfields please send me a PM.


gone but not forgotten
hi mort ;
hope you are well; and i am waiting for the weather to pick up in a month or two for our walk ;
on the subject of the pumping station do you ever recall on the aston rd north heading towards the city that when they widened the rd
and creative the express way do you ever recall a big stucture in green loked likeit was a big pump with a huge tank stuck in the middle
it would have been by the old midland counties dairy which was knowna the darthmouth ring rd then ;
what did it represent any ideas ; have a nice day mort lookforwarded to meeing you ; alan ;; astonian;;;;


Super Moderator
Hi Alan, how nice to hear from you, I am looking forward tomeeting up with you for a walk along the Droitwich Canal.

The Engine on the inland at Dartmouth Circus is in fact ablowing engine from Tipton. It was used to supply air to blow the blastfurnaces in the iron industry.

When it was first installed at Dartmouth Circus, it wascapable of being moved by hydraulic pumps, but apparently there was several carcrashes on the day they ran it.

There was a similar engine to the one at Sandfields in abuilding at Salford Bridge. I occasionally see the engine house in the background of some of the photos posted here.


gone but not forgotten
Many thanks for the information i w3as correct then in thinking that i did pass on the rd and it was just not a figment of my imagination;
i always used to think of what it was and where did it come from ; thats great info; mort;
do you know what as happenend to it or where they have taken it or may be postioned it some where else
yes hopefully next month should be good for the cannal walk thanks mort ; alan ; astonian ;


Super Moderator
Hi Alan

Next month sounds good to me.

I think the engine is still there, but you would have topark about half a mike away, down Adams St and walk to it.

I did have a guy ask what it was for, so I told him it was a'Fog Pump'. When it was foggy, it would suck up all the fog and pump it intothe gasometers at Nechells, he believed me too.

John Child

New Member
I am very interested in helping with the Sandfields project. Although I live in Norfolk, I could certainly attend at Sandfields several days per year. As a qualified volunteer engine driver at Kew Bridge Pumping Station in West London I have a very thorough working knowledge of Cornish Pumping Engines, associated steam plant and of the story of water supply. I could help explain the working principles of the pumping engine to visitors during open days and also help to operate the engine should it be restored to working order. You may know that Cornish Engine drivers are pretty thin on the ground, with possibly less than 20 drivers Worldwide. I am privileged to be one of only four drivers currently qualified to drive the World’s only working ‘Bull’ Cornish Pumping Engine at Kew. As a long-time Cornish Engine enthusiast, I would love to be involved in a project to preserve another of these magnificent engines.
The Sandfields engine is a unique survivor, being the only remaining example of a Cornish type engine built by J & G Davies, but it also belongs to quite a rare family of steam pumping plant. As you may know, there are currently only four sites with working examples of similar engines across the UK, these are Kew (4 engines regularly steamed), Crofton (2 engines also steamed on regular open days), Parkandillick Clay Works in Cornwall (1 engine occasionally worked by an air-blower) and finally Leawood, on the Cromford Canal (1 engine steamed on special open days). In addition to these engines, there are a further nine more-or-less complete Cornish type engines that remain on their original sites (including the engine at Sandfields) in varying states of preservation / dereliction. Of these, the Sandfields engine and the engine on Robinsons Shaft (South Crofty Mine, Cornwall) appear to be the most likely candidates for restoration back to working order. Two engines have been erected as industrial monuments (at the Poldark Mine in Cornwall, and the Dartmouth Circus roundabout on the Birmingham ring-road). Finally four further engines (two beam engines and two Bull engines) are dismantled and in storage, with the two beam engines potentially earmarked for re-erection as part of the Harvey’s Foundry development project in Hayle (although this will require significant funding).
Please let me know if I can help in any way.


Super Moderator
Hi John

Firstly, welcome to the forum.

Thanks for your offer of help, which we would of course bevery happy to accept.

As you will understand, things like this take time, thereare a number of issued that are still to be resolved with SSWW, The Council andthe developer.

The most logical step would be to form a ‘Friends ofSandfields Pumping Station’ group.

I am waiting for a date to have a meeting with the planningdepartments development executive soon, then hopefully do a presentation to theCouncil and Civic Society.

I will PM you my email address, and keep you informed ofprogress.

From there we can set up a charitable trust and a Limitedcompany.

Thanks again for your kind offer.


Super Moderator
Some really important news;

Lichfield’s Annual Town meeting is an event open to residents of Lichfield City, and is an opportunity to ask the Council and its Members questions about issues that are of concern.

The meeting will be held at the Guildhall, Lichfield on Wednesday 22 May at 7:30pm.

This is a golden opportunity to ask about the fate of Sandfields Victorian Pumping Station, and to show that this building and its unique Cornish beam engine is a significant part of Lichfield’s Heritage. It is also an opportunity to voice your concern that the developer has a statutory obligation to keep the building and beam engine in a good state of repair and is obliged to comply with the section 106 planning agreement.

This is fantastic news and a real one off chance to make a difference. If you live in Lichfield City, or you know someone who does and can attend, then please do so.

Unfortunately, I will not be allowed to take part in this meeting as I am not a resident of Lichfield, and really hope that you will be able to support this cause in my absence.

Thank you


Thanks for that Morturn hopefully those who who live in Lichfield will be able to attend and keep us informed. A friend of mine's mother is the deputy Mayoress so I will ask him as well.


Super Moderator
Hi and thanks Wendy, that would be great if you could do that. If you are able to attend, or know someone who can, then some points to raise could be;

1. Doing nothing is not an option; if this building is not bought back into use, it could potentially become an eye sore, materially affecting the values of the surrounding homes.

2. This is a Grade II listed building, the owner (the developer) has a duty to keep in a good state of repair; the Council has a duty to ensure this happens, why this is not the case. Thanks again for your help and support.

Lady Penelope

master brummie
Hi Morturn, just seen you on the news. Unfortunately I was battling with a omlette at the time so only caught a little. What's happening now? Parker's very interested so do let us know please. Thanks


Super Moderator
Hi folks, you can watch the article again on BBC iPlayer here https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08ql4gs

It been a long and complicated project, but at last we are now making study progress. We have negotiated with the owners a licence to enter the building and conduct a feasibility study.

From this study, we can build and business plan and apply for funding from Heritage Lottery and other commercial companies.

We want to save and get this unique piece of industrial heritage open so that the community can learn about the story of clean water.


Super Moderator
Staff member
What a wonderful building Mort. Well worth rescuing. A lot of hard work too.

For anyone watching the BBC clip the Waterworks clip starts around 18.52 and runs to 21.14. Viv.