Catalogue description SOUTHWARK AND VAUXHALL WATER COMPANY: corporate records

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

Details of



MWB - Metropolitan Water Board


S & V CO - The Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company

Held by: London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company, 1847 - 1904

Custodial history:

Prior to their transfer to the Greater London Record Office, the records of the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company were housed in muniment rooms at Thames Water premises, Seething Wells, Surbiton and at New River Head, Rosebery Avenue, EC1.


The records of the metropolitan water companies fall into the following series;


Corporate records; Accounting records; Staff records; Records relating to water supply and distribution; Purchase records; Property records; Miscellaneous items.


Before consulting any legal papers for the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company readers should see the notes on page 40.

Administrative / biographical background:

The Vauxhall Water Company originated as the South London Waterworks Company which had been incorporated in 1805 taking its supply from the Effra at Vauxhall Creek. This supply was becoming polluted and silted up in the 1820's and in 1834 a new Act was acquired altering the name of the company, increasing its area of supply and authorising new intakes.


In 1761 the London Bridge Waterworks Company acquired the rights to supply water to Southwark and extended their mains across the bridge (a very early cross-river supply). In 1822 the Act was passed to remove old London Bridge and its waterworks. The new owners of operations, the New River Company, sold their interest south of the Thames to John Edwards Vaughan who joined it to his existing Bankside works to form the Southwark Water Works.


In 1845 new works were built at Battersea on the approximate side of the Power Station and in 1855 an intake from the Thames was introduced at Hampton. Wells were also sunk at Streatham, Honor Oak and Merton Abbey in 1888 and 1902. In 1861 the Company took over the Richmond Water Company.


The Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company was incorporated in 1845 and was formed by an amalgamation of two earlier undertakings, the Southwark and the Vauxhall companies.


In 1718 a grant was made by the City of London to Francis Wilkinson to supply water to Southwark, procuring water from the Thames.


In 1761 the London Bridge Water Works bought this business from a James Whitchurch whose father had acquired it from Wilkinson. In 1822 the New River Company took over the London Bridge Water Works and sold this Southwark interest to a Mr Edwards Vaughan who, in 1820, had become the proprietor of another undertaking, the Borough Waterworks. Having acquired the two concerns Edwards Vaughan consolidated them at Bankside and named them the Southwark Water Works.


In July 1834 the Southwark Water Company was incorporated and empowered to buy up Vaughan's undertaking and to construct new works at Battersea. The old intake at Bankside was abandoned at the same time and a temporary supply was taken from the Lambeth Company.


The South London Water Works Company was incorporated in 1805 and originally drew its water from the Effra which flowed into the Thames at Vauxhall Creek. The company constructed works at Kennington and Vauxhall Bridge. In 1832 the supply of water from the Effra was abandoned. Two years later the company changed its name to the Vauxhall Water Works Company and a limitation on its right to supply part of Lambeth and Newington (already within the Lambeth Water Works Company's area) was lifted at the same time by statute.


Between 1839 and 1842 there was a period of unfruitful competition between the Vauxhall company and the Southwark and Lambeth companies. Eventually in 1845 the Southwark and the Vauxhall companies were amalgamated to form The Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company.


The works at Kennington were dismantled and conveyed to the Phoenix Gas Company in 1847.


The Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company acquired land at Hampton in 1851 and in 1852 an Act was obtained to sanction the construction of new works and to enlarge the authorised supply area.


In 1870 the company began filtering the water at Hampton and the following year, in order to prepare for the introduction of constant supply, decided to construct four covered reservoirs at Nunhead. Peckham, to be supplied with filtered water from Hampton.


A high service reservoir was built on Forest Hill in 1887 and a pumping station at Wandsworth was brought into use in 1891 for pumping to Wimbledon and the higher levels. Wells were sunk at Streatham in 1888 and later at Honor Oak (1901) and Merton Abbey (1902).


Throughout the 1890s additions were made to the Hampton works and by 1903 the company was able to dispense with the Battersea Works.


As a result of the Metropolis Water Act 1902, the Metropolitan Water Board took over the functions of the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company in 1904. When it did so the company was in the course of constructing storage reservoirs at Honor Oak and Walton.

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