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Bedfordwell Pumping Station, Eastbourne

A Grade II Listed Building in Upperton, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.7761 / 50°46'33"N

Longitude: 0.2869 / 0°17'12"E

OS Eastings: 561335

OS Northings: 99881

OS Grid: TV613998

Mapcode National: GBR MV8.7CB

Mapcode Global: FRA C7H1.7M3

Entry Name: Bedfordwell Pumping Station, Eastbourne

Listing Date: 3 March 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1418787

Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN22

County: East Sussex

District: Eastbourne

Electoral Ward/Division: Upperton

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Eastbourne

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Eastbourne Christ Church

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

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1881-83 engine house and attached boiler house built for Eastbourne Waterworks Co. Ltd. in Classical style; architect Henry Currey.


DATE: an 1881-83 engine house and attached boiler house built for Eastbourne Waterworks Co. Ltd. in Classical style. Architect Henry Currey. After 1923 a further floor was inserted into the engine house.

MATERIALS: yellow brick with red brick dressings, corner stones to the cornice and slate roof.

PLAN: roughly T-shaped with a further projection on the north side. It comprises a tall rectangular engine house to the west, about 42 feet in height, five bays long and five bays wide, and an attached wider boiler room to the east about 25 feet high, in two parallel ranges with a projection on the north side.

EXTERIOR: the engine house has a hipped roof with a large rectangular glazed lantern, also with a hipped roof. There is a moulded brick parapet with stone corner stones and a band of machicolations below. The main floor has tall round-headed windows with iron glazing bars, keystones, band, impost blocks and some pilasters. The ground floor facing north has a projecting single-storey section with central round-headed entrance with fanlight and double doors, flanked by two round-headed sash windows with iron glazing bars on each side. The west side has a similar treatment of the main floor and at ground level five elliptical-headed windows The south side has similar treatment of the main floor and a projecting entrance, with a gable with bargeboards, and a round-headed opening with a keystone, impost blocks and plinth. The east side has a similar treatment to the main floor but is attached to the lower boiler room.

The boiler house consists of two parallel ranges. The north side of the north range has a projecting section at the west end with external chimneystack, round-headed window opening and cambered-headed doorcase. The east end has two inserted C20 steel shuttered entrances. The south range has a rectangular glazed lantern to the roof and the south side has two Diocletian openings, a late-C20 window inserted at the east end and a late-C20 double door inserted at the west end. The east end backs directly onto the railway line and has end gables with Diocletian windows.

INTERIOR: the former engine house has a painted brick interior and elliptical arches to the cross walls. The lower ground floor retains composite girders and four cast-iron, diagonally-braced supports for the beam engine. The original ground floor was replaced in reinforced concrete circa 1923 and an additional floor of similar construction was inserted at a higher level. Some walls are lined in glazed bricks. The roof lantern is boarded and the roof is supported by slender cast-iron trusses. There is a cast-iron staircase, with cylindrical balusters and scrolled tread ends to the balustrades, which links the ground floor of the engine house with the lower ground floor of the boiler house. Each tread is moulded and inscribed 'Hawksleys Patent Step J Westwood Junr London E'. The former boiler house has elliptical-arched blank arches to the end wall and cast-iron columns supporting cast-iron slender roof trusses.


Bedfordwell Pumping Station, comprising an engine house and adjacent boiler house, was designed by Henry Currey, architect for The Duke of Devonshire's estate for the Eastbourne Waterworks Company Ltd., a company which had been founded in 1859 by the 7th Duke of Devonshire. The engineer was George A. Wallis, who was elected Mayor of Eastbourne in 1883, the year the pumping station was officially opened. Building commenced in 1881, the foundation stone on the south side of the building was laid by Henry Currey's daughter Ada, and pumping started in 1883. The pumping station's inauguration was attended by the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra and the two huge rotary pumping engines were christened in honour of their visit, the larger one 'The Prince' and the smaller one 'The Princess'. The beam engines were designed to pump five million gallons of water every 24 hours from an oval well. There were two Cornish type boilers and an 150 feet high chimneystack. Part of the boiler house originally carried a siding from the railway line running immediately beside it to deliver coal directly to the site.

The buildings do not appear on the First Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1880 or the Second Edition map of 1899, although the adjoining area is labelled Eastbourne Waterworks (Pumping Station). The outline of the building is shown for the first time on the Third Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1910.

Unfortunately the working life of the pumping station only lasted until 1895 because the well was only about 40 feet deep and became contaminated. In 1923 the site was sold for use as a council depot and the interior was altered to house workshop machinery on two floors. One or both beam engines were removed to Friston Pumping Station (near Eastbourne) and electric pumps were installed at Friston in due course, but a Bedfordwell beam engine was reported to still exist there in 2012. After 1923 a number of council offices were built along the western boundary of the site which do not appear on the 1910 map but are shown on the Fourth Edition map of 1930. On the Fourth Edition map the site is labelled Corporation Depot. The boiler chimneystack was removed at some later date and the lodge and some later buildings on the site, erected after 1923, were demolished in 2012.

The architect Henry Currey (1820-1900) was articled to Decimus Burton for five years and then worked in William Cubitt's office. In 1847 he was appointed architect and surveyor to the governors of St. Thomas's Hospital, a post which he held for the rest of his life, and in 1859 he was appointed by the 7th Duke of Devonshire to replace his former architect, James Berry. He was responsible for the design of a number of buildings for the Duke of Devonshire at Buxton in Derbyshire, in Eastbourne (East Sussex) also for the Duke of Devonshire, the Winter Gardens of 1874-6 and the Devonshire Park Theatre of 1884 and also buildings at St. Thomas's Hospital, London. Other commissions included the restoration of two earlier churches and the conversion of the Duke of Devonshire's C18 stables at Buxton into the Devonshire Royal Hospital.

Reasons for Listing

Bedfordwell Pumping Station, an 1881-83 engine house and attached boiler house built for Eastbourne Waterworks Co. Ltd. in Classical style by the architect Henry Currey is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: a handsome classical style building in yellow brick with red brick dressings possessing impressive internal spatial quality by a notable architect, and his only industrial building;

* Degree of survival: the engine house survives intact externally, the boiler house has undergone only minor external alterations although the chimney has not survived. The interiors retain the original roof structures, cast-iron staircase and the cast-iron supports for beam engines;

* Comparability: pumping stations of similar date, style, building materials and degree of survival have been listed elsewhere (e.g. Great Amwell Pumping Station, Hertfordshire).

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