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Water Turbine House, Sutton Poyntz Pumping Station

A Grade II Listed Building in Preston, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.6546 / 50°39'16"N

Longitude: -2.4169 / 2°25'0"W

OS Eastings: 370624

OS Northings: 83967

OS Grid: SY706839

Mapcode National: GBR PZ.GFDN

Mapcode Global: FRA 57TB.XXK

Entry Name: Water Turbine House, Sutton Poyntz Pumping Station

Listing Date: 17 February 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1422471

Location: Weymouth and Portland, Dorset, DT3

County: Dorset

District: Weymouth and Portland

Electoral Ward/Division: Preston

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Weymouth

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Preston with Sutton Poyntz St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

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A water turbine house and attached coal store of a water pumping station, now partly company museum. Built 1856-57 and 1869 respectively, designed by Thomas Hawksley for the Weymouth Waterworks Company.


A water turbine house and attached coal store of a water pumping station, now partly company museum. Built 1856-57 and 1869 respectively, designed by Thomas Hawksley for the Weymouth Waterworks Company.

MATERIALS: constructed of cut and squared Portland stone with ashlar dressings under a hipped slate roof with a red brick chimney. The attached coal store is built of matching materials and has a monopitch roof which is hipped at the front.

PLAN: T-shaped on plan, comprising the rectangular turbine house which was built in two phases in 1856 and 1857, and an attached coal store to the east side.

EXTERIOR: the principal elevation of the turbine house faces south and has a central round-arched entrance with a pair of timber panelled doors and a fanlight over. The left return has two sash windows under ashlar lintels and sills, and there is one matching window to the rear. The former coal store has timber double doors to the front (south) elevation.

INTERIOR: it is divided into two rooms which each originally housed a turbine pump. Each room has a corner fireplace with a plain surround, stone-flagged floor and coving. The front (south) room contains a triplex ram pump of 1928 which has been brought in from elsewhere for display purposes. The room beyond retains a turbine-driven ram pump of 1857 and manufactured by D Cook & Co. of Glasgow. Above the turbine chamber is a cast-iron frame and bevelled gear wheels; the teeth of the gear wheels were originally wooden but cast-iron wheels were substituted. The frame is surmounted by a meter or counter which was added in 1858 to record abstraction rates. The interior of the coal store was not inspected (2014).

Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ('the Act') it is declared that the 1928 ram pump, brought from elsewhere, is not of special architectural or historic interest.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURE: the wheelpit of the late-C18 watermill remains, and is situated at the north-east corner of the turbine house.


The Weymouth Waterworks Company was established by Act of Parliament in 1797 and initially provided a gravity-fed water supply for the Melcombe Regis area (now part of Weymouth) taken from a spring known as Boiling Rock in Preston and routed via Lodmoor. The increasing popularity of Melcombe Regis, which was championed by King George III, and the rising population of Weymouth, saw the demand for water increase. In 1855 the waterworks company purchased a late-C18 water-powered grist mill, known as Upper Mill, at Sutton Poyntz, together with the nearby spring source of the River Jordan (formerly the Preston River), in order to develop a new water supply for the town. The following year a reservoir was constructed to the north of Sutton Poyntz to impound the spring water and provide a sufficient head of water to power a turbine-driven ram pump in a turbine house downstream, located close to the site of the mostly demolished watermill, which pumped the water to a reservoir at Preston. The consulting engineer was Thomas Hawksley (1807-1893) and the work was overseen by the architect George R Crickmay (1830-1907) who was appointed manager of the company later that year. The building was extended in 1857 to accommodate an additional pump. Each pump was capable of pumping 300,000 gallons of water per day which was pumped to Preston reservoir and then onto Rodwell reservoir.

Among the equipment installed at the new pumping station was a section of a funnel taken from Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s steam ship, the SS Great Eastern. In 1859 during sea trials off Hastings an explosion on board killed several men and damaged one of the ship’s funnels. The ship was towed to the Isle of Portland for repairs and the damaged funnel was removed. The upper section of funnel was subsequently bought by the Weymouth Waterworks Company and adapted and installed in the springhead reservoir to filter the water before it entered the pumping station. In 2003 the funnel was removed and presented to the SS Great Britain Trust in Bristol where it is on display.

From the mid-C19 as the local population expanded, so did the demand for water. In order to meet this demand Sutton Poyntz pumping station was extended and steam-driven pumps were introduced in several phases during the late C19 and first half of the C20. The 1857 turbine-driven pump remained operational until 1958 when electrically-powered pumps were installed at the site. The earlier of the two turbines has since been removed. Sutton Poyntz pumping station became part of Wessex Water in 1974 and opened as a water supply museum in 1989.

Reasons for Listing

The turbine house at Sutton Poyntz pumping station is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Rarity: for its in situ turbine-driven ram pump which is a rare survival and provides an insight into the developments in water pumping during the first half of the C19;
* Architectural interest: a restrained classical building by renowned engineer Thomas Hawksley;
* Historic interest: as a testament to the provision of a safe and comprehensive municipal water supply in the mid-C19.

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