Nottingham Water Supply

1- Water for Life: The Development of Nottingham’s Water Provision
2- Fresh water for Nottingham: Going Underground
3- A need for greater supply - Papplewick Pumping Station
4- Life at Papplewick
5- The modern Pumping Station
6- The continuing search for water


A need for greater supply - Papplewick Pumping Station

In 1880, responsibility for water supply passed to the Nottingham Corporation Water Department whose engineer, Marriott Ogle Tarbotton, quickly submitted a report drawing attention to the urgent need for increased supplies and storage of water. Tarbotton advised that instead of 28 million gallons a week, Nottingham required 35-40 million gallons per day. The result was the construction of Papplewick Pumping Station.

Work on the chosen site began in 1881 when a pilot well was sunk to prove the water extraction capacity of the proposed pumping station. As construction progressed Papplewick was supplied with two 140hp James Watt & Co. rotative Beam engines at a cost of £5,525 each and six Lancashire boilers. The Station began pumping in earnest on 18th September 1884, with number 1 engine being successfully started and number 2 engine about six weeks afterwards. Each engine would prove capable of lifting 1.5 million gallons of fresh water a day from the 200ft deep wells and run almost continuously until the Station was electrified in 1969.

Construction at Papplewick was completed in 1884 at a cost of £55,000 (approximately £4.5 million in today's money). The Station had come in under budget so Tarbotton used the surplus money to adorn the Engine House with additional decoration, such as stain glass windows.


Papplewick nearing completion in 1884.

Decoration and architecture

Built in the Gothic Revival style then popular in the 1880s Papplewick is a fine example of Victorian architecture, displaying many features that are central to Victorian design. By the time Papplewick was built the funds for many buildings were coming from national and local government, industrialists and brokers, rather than from the church and aristocracy as in previous years.

Papplewick was designed and built as a total concept, with equal thought being given to the main buildings, the grounds and the houses for the station staff. The original plan was for a symmetrical layout including two Pumping Stations although the second station was never required.

Some beautiful examples of ironwork can be seen in the Engine House, on the columns and on the engines themselves. The windows and the main doors of the Engine House also illustrate the importance of decoration in the design of the building.

Views of decorative works at the Engine House
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Papplewick Pumping Station is an Accredited museum
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