There is nothing more invisible to the human eye than an industrial building.
The remarkable thing about industrial heritage is that one does not notice it, because familiarity and its sheer longevity with the everyday erodes away the curiosity of the passers-by.
Industrial buildings are Architecture parlante (“speaking architecture”) it needs someone to speak on its behalf, to tell its story.
Sandfields Pumping Station can tell a remarkable story of how it saved a million lives, and extended the average life expectancy by more than twenty years.
Built following the Black Country’s cholera epidemics of the mid nineteenth century, where almost 20% of the population died within the space of six weeks, the pumping station provided fresh clean drinking water to the beleaguered communities of the industrial Black Country towns.
This building still contains it original and unique 190hp Cornish beam engine that pumped over 2.5 million gallons of water every day from 1873 to 1927. Within a few years, cholera was assigned to the history books in the UK, ensuring the industrial growth of the area.
By telling the story of industrial heritage, we are able to contextualise our past, and can begin to understand our parents, and grandparents, their lives, how they lived and their values. We can bring their past forward in time and make it a useable past, so that we can learn for our future.