On Friday 8 October Sandfields Pumping Station held an event in association with the 2nd International Early Engines Conference. This is the forth significant event to be held at Sandfields Pumping Station and signifies a key milestone in the campaign to save this industrial historic gem.
I have been working to save this site for over nine years now. During this time, I have seen a number of changes; stories of failure and many of success. It’s been both challenging and rewarding for me personally and the people I have been working with.
My intentions have always been to save this magnificent cathedral to the industrial revolution and to give a voice back to the everyday people who worked in the industrial midlands. I have always wanted to tell the remarkable story of clean water and how it extended the average life expectancy by over 30 years. I have also wanted this site to continue serving the community, and not to just sit and languish in a state of dereliction, uncared for and unloved.
While there is a huge amount of work still to do, the site is now in a safe pair of hands. These people will love and care for it. They are a super team who will go from strength to strength and bring to the community a facility that will bring benefit to all.
I am just an unremarkable person from an everyday background. I left school with no qualifications and in fact was thrown off the History CSE course at secondary school for failing to show an interest and failing to hand in any course work.
My dad came back from WWII bonkers and broken. Family life was challenging. I lived in childhood poverty and have experienced working poverty and homelessness too. Significant learning disabilities made life hard and work opportunity’s small. I would have loved a proper education. Despite this I am a very contented individual and feel that I have lead a wonderful and worthwhile life. Not only have I done alright for myself, but I have also always wanted to do alright for others. I like giving something back.
Saving Sandfields Pumping Station was challenging. It was also an opportunity to give something back. Seeing these recent events at Sandfields now makes me feel I have given something to the community, so now my job is done. I have now stepped down as Chairman of Lichfield Waterworks Trust.
I hope that I have given the team at Lichfield Waterworks Trust the roots to stand firm and resilient and the wings to fly with the confidence to remove the barriers to giving something back to the community. I thank you all for your support, I feel privileged and humbled to have worked with you all.
Our campaign to save Sandfields Pumping Station started in 2012. It has been challenging, at times incredibly difficult and occasionally frustrating. Since 2017 there has been an incredible about of community volunteer activity on the site. The teams have slowly and painstakingly peeled away years of vandalism and neglect. It’s been hard graft for the people who have freely given their time to save an unremarkable building that tells a remarkable story of our past history.
This was a building that was built to serve the community and we are working to ensure it continues to do just that.
On Monday we opened the site up for the first time for a theatre production team to do their stuff….
Seeing the production team and the actors at Sandfields is what make the whole thing worthwhile. Please do show your support for this amazing community project. Industrial heritage can give so much back to the community.
The teams have been really hard at it this last few week. Friday the place was buzzing with activity. They have come from a range of different backgrounds, with a range of skills and come together to build this super useable community space.
If you need a space for community events, get-togethers, or meetings, we are here to support you.
No problem say we at Sandfields Pumping Station. Industrial heritage is all about enabling people to learn new skills…
Ian, one of our super volunteers wanted a change from building work. He’s been screeding floors for the past four weeks so fancied a go at learning welding and metalwork. No problem say we. Industrial heritage at Sandfields is all about enabling people to learn new skills and we just happen to have two eighty feet deep wells that need some metalwork…..
Another busy day for the teams at Sandfields Pumping Station today. We are getting things ready to hold our first event, so the focus now is to get the site clean and tidy. Lots of removing rubble and chain pulling
All the latest news and views from Lichfield Waterworks Trust at Sandfields Pumping Station.
While it is still yet possible to hold our monthly meeting and talks, we are able to continue with our onsite renovation works. The teams have continued to be exceptionally busy in July and have undertaken some serious and challenging renovation work.
We have now extended out opening times to Tuesday and Friday morning 10:30 am till 12:30 pm and the first Sunday of each month. 10:30am till 12:30pm. At this moment in time due to covid restrictions, the site is only open to the work team who are undertaking planned work.
If you wish to join the work teams, please let us know. There are a couple of formality’s we need to complete. Just a basic site safety and volunteering induction, all quite painless and brief. We look forward to hearing from you.
Building Lease Update:
No news is good news…?
Other than what we have set out below, we are still waiting for Lichfield District Council to released persimmon from their section 106 obligations.
We are confident of a resolution so please watch this space. The Trust has passed a resolution to accept Persimmons’ offer of the building freehold and a small dowry. Persimmon are seeking to receive a conformation from Lichfield District Council that they have now fulfilled their section 106 obligations for this site.
Lichfield District Council have now been in touch with the trust and are insisting that we sign a three-way agreement between Persimmon Homes Ltd, ourselves and Lichfield District Council. The agreement sets out a framework of responsibility for each party going forward.
Both the Trust and Persimmon have declined to do this on the basic of it being a binding agreement that holds no benefit to the trust or Persimmon. However, as a progressive organisation the trust is prepared to bring something to the party and as such submitted an alternative Memorandum of Understanding so that Lichfield District Council will: Be satisfied that there is a mechanism for protecting and safeguarding the future of the Pumping station.
Support the LW Trust in the necessary works and consequently have the Pumping Station formally removed from the national Buildings at Risk Register.
Work with the LW Trust to support bids for additional funding required to deliver a facility that serves to meet the stated objectives of the Trust and helps sustain the physical integrity of the pumping station and its on-going public use.
The good news is that Lichfield District Council is now happy to progress on the basis as set out.
Clearly the devil is in the detail, but it is another step in the right direction. Thanks, to you all for your continued support.
Another Month of Even More Sheer Hard Graft
The Plinths 3 July saw the members make a start on one of the most challenging jobs to date, removing the reenforced concrete plinths that used to support the electric pumps.
We are pleased to report that after a massive effort the plinths have now gone. Now for the hard part, making the floor good and fit for use. Floor screeding is a skill by itself. But with some advice and guidance the teams multitasked again and delivered the goods.
This really was a team effort that bought together the wider community to complete a super job to a high standard.
Everyone got stuck in.
What a super effort by everyone.
Engineering Team Report
In the weeks since work restarted at Sandfields, in late April, the main focus of work for the various teams has been the removal of the concrete engine plinths, scraping of the walls in the 1960s building and clearing of the floor area. The Engine Team have assisted with scrapping the walls and have supplied “labour” for the mixing of concrete to level the plinths in readiness for tiling them level with the remainder of the floor area. The removal of the concrete plinths has resulted in the production of a lot of dust which has had free access into the Cornish engine house via the two “balcony” openings and the doorway. The team have been involved in cleaning and mopping the top, middle and engine house floor levels to remove the dust layer, which in places was thick enough to clearly write ones name!
Whilst this cleaning has been going on, the opportunity to tidy the floors of the various maps, plans & illustrations, as well as tools, which have been stored/dumped in the engine house has been taken. These items have been removed to safer and more appropriate locations, such as the small office and tool area. The grey filter material, which was used as a “carpet” to protect the floor on the middle level in the engine house, has been removed so that the floor could be given a thorough clean.
The scaffolding tower has been erected at the valve gear end of the engine, on the engine house floor level, to provide access to the valve gear. Some parts of the valve gear were not cleaned when the scaffolding was originally erected here, and the opportunity to clean these elements of the engine is now being taken. The valve gear is also being given a general clean and protection, using steelguard protective oil.
What a super community project where everyone learns, and everyone wins.
Archive and Historical Research team Report A-Z of Victorian/Edwardian men who worked at South Staffs Water company
The Heritage group is researching the lives of some of the people who worked at South Staffs Water company. As an introduction we are running a series The A-Z of Victorian/Edwardian men who worked at South Staffs Water company.
A is for Architect, Edward Adams. Perhaps aptly, the designer of the original Sandfields building, from the very beginning of South Staffordshire Water Works in 1858:
Edward Adams was born 1814 Walsall Staffs. He worked first for Thomas Cubbitt an eminent builder (so impressed he made him supt. erecting a factory in Pimlico). Then independently in 1846 with support from John R McClean (whose work remained closely connected to him thereafter). He designed many buildings apart from original Sandfields pumping station, railway buildings for South Staffs and Furness (including Lichfield Station, picture), churches, houses and schools in Walsall and Cannock Chase, Paris bathhouses and many others. Although his work was based in Kensington where he lodged, by 1871 he rejoined his wife, Eugene Charlotte and 7 children who lived in St Pancras, where she was from. He died in 1875.
We feel privileged here at Sandfields because it is one of the rare industrial building that still holds a comprehensive archive of materiel form the past. The archive record held at Sandfields Pumping Station is an invaluable record and a window to the day-to-day activity of operating a waterworks. Here we see evidence of working practices and skills, now lost.
If you hold an interest in history or are just curious about the past and want to learn more, then why not drop us a line.
Building Renovation Team Report
The main work continues in the 1960s building, with the focus on levelling the former plinth areas with concrete, so it can be tiled. There are four smaller areas that used to have the motor controls mounted on them. The concrete on these has now been broken up, so these too will be tiled in due course.
Health and Safety Report We are pleased to say that June was another accident free month. A very big thank you to everyone for embracing a heath and safety culture.
We never stand still with health and Safety, Good Safety is no Accident.
We will be undertaking more training in the new year, so watch this space.
Shuttering sorted for one plinth. It just needs fixing in place ready for the next stage concrete, levelling and then the final part tiling. A level floor is now getting closer.
Engineering team are back with cleaning the engine after the big dusty job. There were three Hoovers going at one stage! Ground floor has been hoovered and moped, this will need repeating, as it is still dusty. Alan worked on the top floor which is now fully cleaned. The floor treatment (Liberon) carried out a year or two ago has paid dividends making it relatively easy to get clean again.
Unfortunately, we discovered we have a leak in the 1870s building.
The under-croft was where the team worked this morning. The three brick pillars have been demolished and a lot of scrap emptied into the skip. The cable to the substation is being pulled through bit by bit.
Once the cable has been pulled through this space can then be used to store the pop-up signs and boards that are currently stored behind the switch gear. With the aim of getting the switch gear back against the wall, to make a good size gathering area.