Monday, 22 October 2007

Kew revisited.

Still moored at Brentford.

Well it’s been another beautiful day here in Blighty. First of all we must pass on our condolences to the England rugby team! they didn’t stand a chance against the Boks. It wasn’t what I would call a good game of rugby as it was won solely on the boot of selected players. I like to see a good running game with tries being scored not rucks and mauls which the Boks are renowned for. Enough said.

Well as promised we set off for the Kew steam museum and arrived dead on opening time. Also to arrive were 5 members of the Velocette motorcycle owners club on 5 Velocette’s of various vintages all in pristine condition. Even the latest model had the traditional trade mark fish tail exhaust which these bikes are known by.


All the volunteers were present so everything was up and running including the Hunslet 0-4-0 narrow gauge steam loco. Due to the tight curvature of the end to end track the sole carriage has to be pulled so there is a diesel loco on one end and the Hunslet on the other. If they try to push the carriage it de-rails on the bends.


Inside the museum the displays covered anything from water storage and filtration to water pipes over the years and appliances that use water.


appliances 2

It was fascinating reading about wooden water pipes which were made from Elm tree trunks which were hollowed out by a huge Auger worked by either a water wheel, a horse, turning a geared apparatus by walking in circles or by hand. One end of the trunk was shaped like the sharp end of a pencil and the other had a metal insert so when the sharp end of 1 trunk was forced into the blunt end of another it created a reasonably water tight seal.


All the beam engines were in pristine working condition with shiny brass work and beautifully decorated paintwork as were all the other exhibits from small engines driving a belt shaft to the piston engines that you may have found in a ship. Outside in the yard is the lattice cast iron beam from the Hammersmith pump house weighing in at a mere 30 tons.

hammersmith beam

The Standpipe tower was amazing with 5 pipes extending up the tower which is 197 feet high. The pipes are 3 or 5 feet in diameter and made out of cast iron. The previous tower was an open wooden structure which due to being open to the elements caused the pipes to freeze and split in the winter of 1866. The present structure was built at the cost of ₤4802.6s and was opened the following year. You wouldn’t buy much for that price these days. Now the view from the top of the tower is reputed to not be as good as it used to be due to all the high rise apartment blocks being built all over London. Originally you could see as far as Crystal Palace. The stairs leading up the tower are an open wooden staircase up the side of the tower with a wooden landing about every 25 steps. There are 270 steps to the top with NO intermediate floors, just the small landings previously mentioned. The sign at the bottom of the stairs states that the stairs should not be attempted by anybody with high blood pressure or suffering from Vertigo. The tower is controlled by 2 gentlemen at the top and bottom of the tower. The bottom controller notifies the top man by radio every time a person starts to ascend the tower to ensure their safe arrival or in our case aborted attempt. We got up the first 4 flights but decided that enough was enough regardless of the view from the top, but we did try which many don’t.


The museum is a credit to the volunteers that run it and well worth a visit if you are in the district. Week-ends are best if you wish to see the beam engines in steam. Otherwise check it here.

797 locks, 1103.5 miles, 33 Tunnels, 39 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

No comments: