Catalogue description Grand Junction Waterworks Company Corporate Records

This record is held by London Metropolitan Archives: City of London

Details of ACC 2558/GJ
Reference: ACC 2558/GJ
Title: Grand Junction Waterworks Company Corporate Records
Held by: London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Grand Junction Waterworks Company, 1811 - 1904

Administrative / biographical background:

The Company was established in 1811 as an offshoot of the Grand Junction Canal Company. Its intake was via a canal from the Colne and Brent rivers but the water was not of good quality and in 1820 the intake was taken from the Thames near the northern end of the present Chelsea Bridge but opposite the Ranelagh sewer and Westbourne Brook.


In 1835 a new intake was constructed at Brentford near Kew Bridge and the first long trunk main (five and a half miles) laid by any company was built to take the supply to Paddington. In 1855 the intake was removed to Hampton.


The Grand Junction Water Works Company was incorporated in 1811 to exercise the water supply rights vested in the Grand Junction Canal Company by virtue of their Act of 1798. The original source of supply was the canal itself which was fed by the rivers Colne and Brent. Following an agreement between the Grand Junction and Regent's Canal companies and the water company for an exchange of water, an intake and pumping station by the Thames were constructed for the water company in 1820. The intake pipe for drawing water from the river was unfortunately laid almost opposite the mouth of the Ranelagh sewer (or Westbourne Brook). This was pointed out in a pamphlet called "The Dolphin" in 1827. This caused a considerable outcry and a campaign led by Sir Francis Burdett, M.P. for Westminster, resulted in the appointment of the first Royal Commission to inquire into the quality of the water to be supplied by the metropolitan water companies. It was not until 1835, however, that powers were granted to open a new intake at Brentford, near Kew Bridge. A pumping station there containing a beam engine by Maudslay, and a thirty inch main five and a half miles long to carry the water to Paddington were completed in 1838. This was the first long trunk main to be laid by any of the companies.


The Paddington works were abandoned in 1845 when a new reservoir was completed on Campden Hill, Kensington. In the same year slow sand filtration on similar lines to that used at the Chelsea waterworks was introduced at the Kew Bridge works.


In conformity with the Metropolis Water Act of 1852 the company again moved their intake, this time to Hampton where deposit reservoirs and a pumping station were completed in 1855. These works were connected to the Kew Bridge works by thirty three inch main. Additions were made to the Hampton works during the remainder of the century and in 1882 the company began to filter part of the supply there, thus relieving the Kew Bridge works.


A large open reservoir for filtered water was inaugurated on Hanger Hill, Ealing, in 1888. Acts of 1852, 1861 and 1878 enlarged the area of supply and by the turn of the century the company's boundary stretched from Mayfair to Sunbury.


In 1904 the functions of the Grand Junction Water Works Company were assumed by the Metropolitan Water Board following the Metropolis Water Act 1902.

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