The Engine and Building

Installation of the Cornish pumping engine at Sandfields 1871-1873

In July 1871, William Vawdry, the South Staffordshire Company Engineer, recommended that the existing three engines were supplemented by the installation of a fourth engine, due to the inadequacy of the existing pumping capacity.

In 1873 an additional well was sunk and a new engine house built (against the original which housed the Watt beam engines) to accommodate engine no.4 - a Cornish pumping engine. The Birmingham-based architect, Henry Naden, was commissioned to design and supervise the construction of the Cornish engine house, whilst Bennett & Company of Lichfield were appointed to build it. Work to construct the new engine house began in early 1872, with Naden supervising the sinking of the new well. In August 1871, Jonah & George Davies (Engineers & boilermakers of the Albion Foundry, Tipton, Staffordshire) were awarded the tender to supply and erect a Cornish pumping engine at Sandfields for £5,820. The engine was planned to be completed in nine month, but Messrs Davies experienced financial problems and were declared bankrupt in January 1873, with the engine still incomplete. The engine was eventually completed and installed, under the direction of William Vawdry, in late 1873. This is the beam pumping engine that still exists at Sandfields pumping Station.

With a cylinder of 65 inches diameter and stroke of 9 feet, the engine was capable of developing 190hp at 7 strokes per minute when operating on steam at 40psi, and could pump 2 million gallons of water per day against a delivery head of 355 feet. Three additional Lancashire boilers - rated at 40psi - were installed to provide the higher steam pressure required by the Cornish engine. At this time there were a total of nine boilers providing steam to the four engines. The cost of the Cornish engine, pumping plant and the three additional boilers came to £6,690.