Lichfield Waterworks Trust April Newsletter

As you are no doubt aware of the current global coronavirus pandemic the trust, as with many other organisations has had to suspend its onsite activities and meeting.

From its initial inception, the trust has always put the safety, health and wellbeing of its members first and foremost. Therefore, we will be following government and heath professional guidelines to keep everyone and the NHS safe.

As soon as the lockdown restrictions are lifted, please be assured we will re-commence work on site at the earliest opportunity.

The trustee would like everyone to know that we are thinking of you all and looking forward to the days when we can resume some normality.

Latest News

Building Lease Update:

Two trustees met with Persimmon on Tuesday 5 November to discuss the lease. The trustees have also met to discuss the offer made by Persimmon Homes Ltd. While the overall details of the lease still need to be negotiated and there are still some outstanding issues that need to be addressed. The trustees have a great deal of confidence in the teams of volunteers who are making things on site happen. The trustees have also carful considered the enormous and significant contribution the members have made to this project, therefore the trustees believed that it’s time to stop kicking the problems back and forth and instead to move things forward.

We have therefore agreed that we are able to move on with the lease. We have informed Persimmon Homes Ltd and are waiting for them to contact our solicitors.

The trustee would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your ongoing help and support.

Important Note:

After the visit by Historic England on 16 Jan, the site has unfortunately been placed on the Heritage at Risk Register.

This is indeed sad news to see that this magnificent piece of industrial heritage is now officially at risk of permanent loss.

The trust is committed to continue working with the owner, Persimmon Homes Ltd to find a sustainable solution that will bring this building and its historic contents aback into a community use.

Archive and Historical Research Team Report

The heritage of the modern water industry is almost entirely absent, despite its unarguable relevance to human development.

Document of the Month April 2020

Specification for a Cornish Beam Engine

William Vawdrey is the second son of the late Rev. A. A. Vawdrey, who was for many years Vicar of St. Agnes, Cornwall. Born at St. Day Vicarage on the 17th ‘of April 1840. As a youth he was sent as a student to Messrs. Harvey and Company’s Foundry at Hayle, where he remained seven years. He was then employed in erecting pumping and winding-engines for Messrs Eustace and Son and other owners.

In 1865, after passing the requisite examination, he entered the Royal Navy, but soon afterwards retiring from the service he was appointed assistant engineer to the South Staffordshire Waterworks under Mr. J. R.McClean.

Two years later he assumed full charge of the works and remained with the company up to his death on the 2nd of January 1895. During these 30 years of service Mr. Vawdrey proved himself a most able and energetic promoter of the company’s welfare and substantially developed the activity of South Staffs Water.

Vawdrey designed, specified and tendered the 65-inch Cornish Beam Engine at Sandfields Pumping Station, known today as engine number 4. The South Staffs Water archive still holds copies of the original engine specification written in hand manuscript. These documents are a treasure and will provide educational, study and research opportunities for many years to come.

Linda Shapiro has been studying Victorian culture for many years, her research work can be seen on her website Dewsbury Victorian Family’s. She has painstakingly transcribed this document and a number of others relating to the construction of the original impounding reservoir at Stowe Pool and a number of transactions from William Vawdreys’ daybook.

Here is a sample of the transcribed manuscript for you to enjoy. We will in due course be releasing a full version of this transcript for study, comment, a study day, booklet and a talk.

The Contract shall include the Engine Boilers, Pumps, Air Vessel, and other works and all duplicates. Tools and Materials hereinafter described with all needful 8888 and complete apparatus, appendages, attachments, appliances, and connections  jointed fixed and set to work; and comprise also all proper and necessary floor joists to support the stone landings of the working floor, and the plates for floor of Cylinder stage and other floors, together with access frames and plates for the same wherever required and also all holding down bolts washer plates, bed plates beams, spring beams, bearers, handrails, balusters and other matters and things whatsoever pertaining  incident or appurtenant to the Engine, Boilers, Machinery and other works and apparatus and their supports fixings attachments connections, appliances and conveniences respectively including all waste and other pipes to the outside of the buildings and all pump work as far as one pipe outside of the air vessel.

The Engine shall be of the kind known as a Cornish or single acting expansive condensing Beam Engine, and shall be made according to the most improved construction and arrangement in all its details and be finished bright in all parts usually so finished by the best makers of first class Water Works Engines, and the working gear shall be so arranged that the steam may be cut off at any point from one sixth of the stroke downwards as may be found desirable, and that the Engine may be capable of making fully ten strokes per minute  continuously, with a pressure equal to (135 lbs, one hundred and thirty five pounds) to the square inch on the pump bucket, and the Contractor shall so proportion and construct the Engine, Pump valves, Air vessel and other works as to enable the Engine satisfactorily to work through  a 24 ins diameter Main at the above named speed and pressure and throw at each stroke the full quantity of water due to the area of the bucket and length of stroke without loss through valves, and if upon trial the Engine shall not be found capable of doing this continuously the Contractor shall make such alterations in any parts thereof as shall be required to enable it so to perform the work aforesaid.

As you can clearly see, this is a beautifully written technical document with all the nuances of Victorian culture. It is a joy to read and study, so watch this space, there will be more to come.

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 by for tea.


The current global coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the trust. With no onsite activity, meeting, talks or raffles we are seriously down of income. We do manage our money very carefully and have no paid staff, therefore we will get by. But it would be nice to hit the ground running as soon as we get a return to normality.

We have lots of events and activities planned, so if you can give a small donation, we can get things on the moves as quickly as possible.

We will also always invest in our people and we are planning further training days soon. All these costs soon mount up, so if you can donate, then please visit our donation page here.

Any amount is helpful, is well appreciated and will be carefully spent preserving our industrial past for our future generations, developing skills for our people and making our community a better place

Please make cheques payable to; Lichfield Waterworks Trust, and send to our address:

22 Walsall Road


WS13 8AB


Do we have your correct details? We do our best to get things right, but occasionally something slips of the tray. Please let us know if we have your correct contact details, or you would like any additions or amendments.

We would like this opportunity to welcome a few new members.

Thank you for joining the Lichfield Waterworks Trust. We hope you will enjoy your membership and become part of a very exciting heritage project that will benefit the people, the place and the community.

It will really help us if we develop and grow our membership. If you are not already a member and would you like to be a part of one of the region’s most exciting heritage projects then please, join us now by filling in Membership Application Form by going to our membership page here. It is free to join and be a part of this incredibly exciting project.

About Morturn

Historian – Photographer – Filmmaker Retired construction professional with a passion for public, social and industrial history. I believe in equality, dignity and integrity for all. Don’t like people who try to belittle the ambitions of others. I am of the opinion that my now life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.
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