Seething Wells old waterworks buildings from the A307
Seething Wells shown within Greater London
|OS grid reference|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||Kingston & Surbiton|
|London Assembly||South West|
Seething Wells is a locality of Surbiton in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, on the border with the Surrey district of Elmbridge. It is the site of a former water treatment works on the south bank of the River Thames. Part of it was redeveloped in the early 21st century. The filter beds remain the property of Thames Water, via their property agency Kennett Homes. The beds' riverside location has attracted the attention of developers and they have been the object of development applications, so far not granted. The beds are a designated wildlife area within Greater London. A substantial labyrinth of underground tunnels and structures, some of which are statutorily listed, forms an important haven for eight species of bat including some of Britains' rarer varieties subject to special protection. The beds and converted waterworks are part of one of the Royal Borough of Kingston's Conservation Areas.
The apt name of Seething Wells is a gradual phonetic corruption of the original 'Siden Wells' which appears on maps from the 18th century. It was the site of springs - reportedly warm springs - which were believed to have healing ophthalmic properties.
The Metropolis Water Act of 1852 prohibited the extraction of water for household purposes from the tidal Thames below Teddington Weir. The Lambeth Waterworks Company anticipated this by building their works at Seething Wells which were completed and opened in 1852, the same year as the Act was passed. Another company - the Chelsea Waterworks Company - joined the Lambeth Waterworks Company here. The two establishments existed side by side until they were both incorporated into the Metropolitan Water Board in 1903. However the inlets here sucked up too much mud with the water because of turbulence caused by the River Mole, River Ember and The Rythe. The Lambeth Waterworks Company built a new installation at Molesey, and the Chelsea Waterworks Company followed them there three years later, after attempting to build works opposite Hampton Court.
Part of the Seething Wells site is now used as halls of residence by Kingston University.
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