The towers


Matthew BOULTON (1728-1809) with his partner, James Watt, did much to develop the use of the steam engine for pumping, and founded the firm of Boulton & Watt. One of the first engines at the Kew Bridge Works was built by Boulton & Watt for the Chelsea Works of the Grand Junction Company but was moved to Kew in 1839.

Henry MAUDSLAY (1771-1831) was one of the most important early mechanical engineers and founded the firm of Maudslay Sons & Field. They supplied the first engine to work at Kew Bridge in 1838.


HARVEY & Co of Hayle, Cornwall built two Cornish engines for the Kew Works in 1859 and 1871. These, together with the other engines mentioned, are preserved at Kew Bridge Works as a Steam Museum.


Many of the engines formerly used by water works, including Kew, are known as CORNISH engines because they are of the type developed at the beginning of the nineteenth century to pump water from the mines in Cornwall.


Alexander FRASER designed the Water Tower at the Kew Bridge Works. The Tower is still a landmark standing nearly 200 feet high. It was built in 1861 after severe frost early that year had damaged the old standpipe.


Thomas WICKSTEED (1806-1871) of the East London Waterworks and consulting engineer to the Grand Junction Water Works visited Cornwall in 1837 and realised the efficiency of the Cornish engines used to drain the mines. As a result he was responsible for the introduction of this type of engine to the London water works and the adaptation of the Boulton & Watt and the Maudslay engines at Kew to the Cornish cycle. Wicksteed also designed the large 90” engine supplied by the Copperhouse Foundry of Hayle, Cornwall to the Kew Works in 1845.