A £5,000 grant in 2009 to The Museum of Power for the restoration of the Lilleshall Engine.
The Museum of Power has restored the unique sight and sound of steam to the former Langford pumping station fifty years after it closed down. A vintage pumping engine, larger than a double decker bus, steamed in public for the first time on Saturday 9th April 2011 when the museum re-opened with a Steam Gala.
The historic event was marked by a special ceremony; Sir Derek Wanless (Chairman of Northumbrian Water Ltd, which incorporates Essex & Suffolk Water) opened a steam valve to set the engine in motion, Traction engines were also on display in the museum yard and a miniature steam railway offered rides around the grounds. Visitors also enjoyed a new tearoom and indoor toilets in addition to improvements around the gardens.
The Waterworks were built in 1928 and supplied 8 million gallons of treated water a day to the Southend district until closure, whereupon the hexagonal brick chimney (which had been a local landmark) was demolished and the original boilers plus two pumping engines scrapped. The imposing building and surviving engine became a scheduled ancient monument in 1986. In 1996, the current owner, Essex and Suffolk Water, agreed to lease the site and offer their support to the Museum of Power to house a collection of historic machinery. As the museum developed, the volunteers dreamt of restoring the giant triple expansion engine to steam.
This became possible when The Port of Felixstowe donated a redundant boiler. A new boiler-house was built and volunteers have serviced the boiler, installed fuel and water tanks and fitted new steam pipes with the help of a grant from Essex Heritage Trust.
Dick Waylen (Chairman of the trustees) said “The museum staff and all the volunteers have worked very hard creating a superb attraction for visitors to enjoy. We are very proud to bring steam back to Langford after 50 years, which now makes the museum a unique experience in Essex. We are grateful to Essex & Suffolk Water and Essex Heritage Trust for their generosity and help in achieving this milestone.”