Abbey Pumping Station

Abbey Pumping Station

The Abbey Pumping Station is a museum in Leicester, England, on Corporation Road, opposite the National Space Centre.


The museum was previously a pumping station used to pump sewage to treatment works at Beaumont Leys, and was opened in 1891. The grand Victorian building, designed by Stockdale Harrison (city architect in 1890) and beautifully decorated beam engines were a cause of great civic pride. It continued pumping Leicester's sewage until 1964, and then underwent renovation. It opened as a museum in 1972. It is one of a number of historic pumping stations which have been preserved.

Beam engines

The four steam engines were built in Leicester by Gimson and Company and today are rare examples of Woolf compound rotative beam engines. At the time these engines were built they were considered an old-fashioned but very well-practiced design, as many engine designers had turned their attention to horizontal and early vertical designs instead.

These engines are rated at 200 hp, at 12–19 rpm, of which they pumped 208,000 imperial gallons of sewage an hour (263 L/s).

Three of the four engines have been restored back to working condition, by a dedicated team of volunteers: the Leicester Museums Technology Association. It is the only engine house in the world where you can see four working examples of the same beam engine in one building.

Current projects in the engine house are the on-going maintenance of the latest restored engine, No.4 (restored over a period of some 10 years by the volunteers), and the total restoration of the only non-working engine (No.1), of which the sewage pump is currently seized due to old age!


The Pumping Station is normally open Sunday through to Wednesday. Engines can be seen in steam at various steam days along with other steam and early internal combustion exhibits.

Transport collection

The Museum has a narrow gauge railway which is normally operated by an 0-4-0ST steam locomotive, "Leonard", but four diesel locomotives – three Simplex and one Ruston – are also available if needed. There is also a collection of vintage fire engines, buses (see below), an 1894 Aveling and Porter steam roller, three diesel rollers, an Austin Fish and Chips Van and an Austin Van with Ales which are operated on selected days.

*1939 Leicester City Transport: AEC Renown 0664 CBC 921. In an operational condition, usually displayed at Snibston Discovery Park but returnes to Abbey Pumping Station at the start of each year.
*1958 Delaine Coaches: Leyland Tiger Cub PSUC1/2 MTL 750. Fully restored and operational.
*1958 Leicester City Transport: Leyland Titan PD3/1 TBC 164. Fully restored and operational.
*1984 Midland Fox: Ford Transit 190D B401 NJF. On display at Snibston Discovery Park.

External links

* [ Museum web page]

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