- Check out the interactive Waterworks Gallery that takes you through the development of London’s water system in a fun and exciting way.
- Explore the vast collection of Victorian Cornish engines that powered England’s way through the Industrial Revolution.
- Children will love letting out some energy in the interactive Splash Zone, make sure to bring a towel to dry off!
- Spend some time in the Museum Gardens for the perfect picnicking spot to relax and unwind after a day full of learning.
- Take part in one of the fun family events that take place at the museum throughout the year.
For an unusual museum in London that all the family will enjoy, check out the London Museum of Water & Steam. Situated in the former Kew Bridge Waterworks building, this location brings the viewer through the unique history of London’s water system. Engineering fans will love examining the wide collection of water pumps and engines that had a huge influence in the development of technology; history buffs will enjoy the timeline that dates back to the Roman aqueducts and children will love learning through the many interactive exhibitions and games stationed across the whole museum. There truly is something for everyone to find interesting here.
The Kew Bridge Waterworks building dates back to 1838 when it first opened to increase the quality of water in Chelsea with the use of steam engines and pumps. It ran until the year 1944 when steam power became obsolete, however instead of scrapping the engines and tools it was decided to create a museum on the basis of this technology. It wasn’t until 1975 when the museum opened to the public as the Kew Bridge Museum. The location was then re-branded as the London Museum of Water and Steam after a significant investment in 2014. Today the museum attracts people from all over Britain to see the impressive interactive exhibitions and learn about the fascinating history of the water system we all benefit from today.
The Waterworks Gallery at the London Museum of Water & Steam takes visitors through the timeline of water sanitation and the development of the system we use today. From the terracotta aqueducts of the Roman Empire to speculation about future technology, this exhibition reveals the underground secrets behind the water system we all use today. The section on water sanitation takes visitors through the process of filtration, cleaning and reuse of water in today’s modern era. With fun interactive games and a bright graphic display, everyone in the family will enjoy walking through the museum. It teaches children and adults alike about the importance of saving water as well as building an appreciation for the systems that the majority of us will never have understood before. You will never look at a tap in the same way again!
The London Museum of Water & Steam houses the largest collection of working Cornish steam engines in the world. The main highlight of the collection has to be the Grand Junction 90” Engine, the largest working beam engine in the world. This piece of machinery is so famous it has appeared in numerous television shows, like Blue Peter, Top of The Pops, Murder Rooms and more. Other fascinating engines on display include the Bull Engine, the Maudslay Engine and the Boulton and Watt Engine. Fans of this Victorian-era technology will love the chance to see them come alive. Every weekend the museum holds demonstrations so the public can see these gigantic metal creations in action working just as well as they did over 200 years ago.
The Splash Zone is one of the highlights of the London Museum of Water & Steam that children of all ages will adore. Visitors are invited to experiment with gears and pumps to see how water ebbs and flows for themselves. With sets of interactive levers, wheels, buckets, pipes and more, there is so much to learn and discover. What better way to put all the theory and facts from the exhibition into action?
After you’ve had enough history for the day, the Museum Gardens is the perfect place to cool off and relax. Here, you can find a fun water feature that was once part of a Cornish engine, a small vegetable garden as well as many beautiful blooming plants. If you come at the right time of year, you might even see some frogspawn growing in the pond. There is also a picnic area in a secluded spot so you can enjoy some lunch alfresco taking in the lovely surroundings.
The London Museum of Water & Steam also holds several family events that cater to people of all ages. Past events include Musical Mark, an afternoon of storytelling and singsongs and the Easter Egg-splore, a week full of Easter-related events aimed at younger children to enjoy.
What to know before you go
- The London Museum of Water & Steam is open daily.
- There is a café inside the museum that serves light refreshments to visitors.
- If you'd prefer to bring a packed lunch, there is also a picnic area in the gardens.
- The Gift Shop can be found near the entrance, where visitors can pick up unique souvenirs and sweets.
- There are toilets, including wheelchair-accessible toilets and baby changing facilities available for visitors on site.
- The London Museum of Water & Steam is about 85% accessible for wheelchair users. There are rising lifts in place to give access to the exhibits.
How to get there
- The London Museum of Water & Steam is located on Green Dragon Lane in Brentford.
- Kew Bridge is the closest rail station, about a five-minute walk from the museum.
- The nearest underground stations are Gunnersbury (District Line) and Kew Gardens (District Line), both about a 15-minute walk from the museum.
- Bus routes 65, 237 and 267 have stops near the museum.
- There is a car park available on site which visitors of the museum can use for no extra cost.