The massive Lilleshall triple-expansion steam engine No. 282 “Marshall” dominates the exhibition Halls at Langford. When the Langford Pumping Station was built during the 1920´s three of these huge marine engines were installed, brought here in sections by road and rail. Because it is so historically-important it´s been declared a Scheduled Monument and carefully managed by the Museum and English heritage.
There are two stories to tell at Langford, one of fresh water and one of power. You can explore both on your visit to this important site. Fresh water was always scarce in Essex and during the Industrial Revolution people across the county utilised a mixture of wells and surface streams to get the water they needed for domestic and industrial uses. Water companies were set up but these only supplied limited areas in the towns. Shallow wells in rural areas and often deep wells, too, were contaminated with animal waste and bacteria from surface sewers and drains. Disease was rife and could be often traced to the water supply.
Drastic action was needed to increase the water supply for the growing population. Langford Water Pumping station was built in the 1920s by the Southend Waterworks Company to supply drinking water to Southend and surrounding areas. Water was taken from the Chelmer and Blackwater rivers which are close together here. The three large triple expansion steam engines drove ram type pumps in the cellars. Steam was supplied by three marine type boilers, which were coal fired with an automatic stoking system.
Also in the building were three steam powered generator sets that supplied electricity to the pumping station and the nearby treatment works. Water extracted from the rivers was treated and then pumped down a 28 inch (710 mm) pipe to Southend at a rate of up to 8,000,000 gallons (35,000,000 litres) a day. In the 1950´s the system was extended with the construction of nearby Hanningfield reservoir.
Surrounding the Lilleshall engine at Langford are power sources of all types. The Museum of Power was set up to exhibit and demonstrate working examples of power sources of all types and chronicle the major roles that they have played in history. Nothing can be achieved without the use of power in one form or another.
The work of the Museum is divided into two broad areas. The first is to provide an ´educational´ environment which explores man´s use of power. This is to be achieved by presenting working examples of machinery, equipment and tools which have been used to develop the industrial and social conditions we enjoy today. The second aim of the Museum is to provide any opportunity for the restoration and preservation of machinery, equipment and tools which have shaped our industrial and social environments.
The Industrial Revolution has never really stopped, its pace has quickened over the years. The Museum is aiming to provide safe exhibition areas where display items are both working and interactive so that generations to come will be able to view past engineering developments and technologies. The Museum is set in extensive grounds. Entrance is through the small tea room. Outside are formal gardens, managed wildlife areas, a former cricket field now used for events and rallies, car park, toilets, picnic area, patio area and a concrete yard containing further restoration projects.
A newly-constructed 7¼ inch (18.4 mm) gauge miniature railway encircles the main buildings, and includes station, level crossings, signalling and turntable. Length of track is ¼ mile(0.4 km) and steadily growing. Steam and diesel hauled trains give rides on event days.