London Museum of Water and Steam

The London Museum of Water and Steam is recognised as one of the most important historic sites of the water supply industry in Britain.

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London Museum of Water and Steam

What you'll do

Enjoy access to the London Museum of Water and Steam with The London Pass®

  • Pay nothing at the door - simply show your pass.
  • See the museum’s extensive set of water-pumping steam engines, including the world’s largest collection of working Cornish engines.
  • Admire the Grade I and II listed buildings of the old waterworks which now house the museum.
  • Learn about the history of London’s water supply in an interactive exhibition.

The London Museum of Water and Steam is devoted to the history of water pumping steam engines and London’s water supply. Housed in the impressive buildings of a Victorian waterworks, the museum has a fine collection of steam engines, interactive exhibits, and even a working steam train.

London Museum of Water and Steam history

The museum is located on the site of the Kew Bridge Pumping Station and uses many of its historic buildings to house its collections. Kew Bridge Pumping Station opened in 1838 and was fully operational until 1944 when the steam engines were turned off. In its pomp, it housed six steam pumping engines, four Allen diesel pumps and four electric pump sets, and was a vital part of London’s water supply.

One of the most striking features of the site is its 200 ft high Victorian standpipe tower. The brick tower, constructed in 1867, is Grade I listed, as are the site’s original engine house and the Great Engine House. The Boiler House, built in 1837, is Grade II listed, along with several ancillary buildings.

After the closure of the pumping station, the Metropolitan Water Board chose to leave the steam pumping engines and buildings in place, with a view to creating a museum on the site. As a result, the site is the oldest waterworks in the world that still has its original steam pumping engines, and represents the most complete early pumping station in the country.

The Kew Bridge Steam Museum, as it was then known, opened in 1975, gradually building its collections and earning its reputation as a world-class industrial museum. The museum underwent a large makeover and rebranding in the 21st Century, reopening in 2014 as the London Museum of Water and Steam, with added interactive elements broadening its appeal to younger generations.

London Museum of Water and Steam highlights

  • See the world’s largest collection of Cornish cycle beam engines, housed in the museum.
  • Stand and admire the largest working beam engine on the planet, the Grand Junction 90 inch, that pumped water to London for 98 years.
  • Head to the Splash Zone, a play area with gear, wheels, buckets, levers, pumps, and pipes transporting water and splashing it around the place.
  • Learn the history of London’s water supply in the Waterworks Gallery.
  • Admire the many Grade I and Grade II listed buildings on site, including the original engine house, the Great Engine House, and a 200 ft tall Victorian standpipe tower.

London Museum of Water and Steam facts

  • When Charles Dickens visited the then-operational pumping station, took one look at the main pump and called it ‘a monster’. Fair enough: it is over 40 feet high and weighs around 250 tons.
  • A number of TV shows, films, and music videos have been filmed at the waterworks where the museum now stands, including Eastenders, The Bill, Doctor Who, and the opening credits to Top of the Pops.

Waterworks Gallery

This permanent gallery covers the story of London’s water supply, from the Roman era to the present day. Through a wealth of artefacts, information panels, and working models, the gallery looks into the important machines, people and companies that helped London develop by providing its population with clean water. There are plenty of interactive exhibits in the Waterworks Gallery, bringing the topic to life for visitors of all ages.

Special Events

The London Museum of Water and Steam regularly puts on special events, particularly during school holidays. Join them for evening theatre performances, daytime talks, family-friendly activity days, and more. These events require a separate ticket. To find out what’s on around the time of your intended visit, consult the official website.

Make the most of your London Pass®

Continue your adventure in this charming part of West London. Now that you’ve learnt all about the industrial heritage, it’s time to get into the natural at Kew Gardens. These historic botanical gardens are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and perfect for an afternoon stroll. Entry to Kew Gardens, as with the London Museum of Water and Steam, is included with The London Pass®.

Know before you go

Getting in: show your London Pass at the door for entry.

For more information, visit the London Museum of Water and Steam website.

Where you'll be

Operating hours

Thursday – Sunday (and bank holidays): 10AM-4PM

Daily during school holidays

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Plans can change, we get it. All non-activated credits packages are eligible for a refund within 90 days of your purchase date.

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