Metropolitan Water Board Railway

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Metropolitan Water Board Railway
Locale England
Dates of operation 1916–1946 (short section of track now re-opened, possibility of restoring the remainder)
Successor abandoned
Track gauge 2 ft (610 mm)
Length 3 miles (4.8 km)
Headquarters London

The Metropolitan Water Board Railway was a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge industrial railway built to serve the Metropolitan Water Board's pumping station at Kempton Park near London. The line was opened in 1916 and closed shortly after the Second World War. A short part is operating once again to give rides to the public, under a new name, the Kempton Steam Railway


In 1903, three private water companies in and around London came under the control of the newly formed Metropolitan Water Board. Included was the pumping station at Kempton, three miles from the River Thames at Hampton. The Kempton engine houses contained a set of massive steam engines that drove the pumps which together consumed about 110 tons of coal a day. The cost of transporting and handling this amount of coal from the wharves at Hampton to the Kempton pumping station was significant.

A narrow gauge railway was proposed to ease the cost of supplying the Kempton engines. Construction had begun by May 1914 and by the end of 1915 the railway was ready to be opened.

Coal was brought to Hampton by barge, loaded into a large hopper by a high level crane, and then taken by the railway, in tipper wagons, to the pumping houses.

Motive power was provided by three steam locomotives, built by Kerr Stuart & Co Ltd. These were 0-4-2T side-tank engines, named: Hampton, Kempton and Sunbury. They were painted a lined dark green livery, with much polished brasswork, including the prominent dome cover. Photographs indicate that the engines were maintained in immaculate condition.[1]

The railway fulfilled its function until after the Second World War when, after a working life of 32 years, the quantity of coal transported fell dramatically and it was decided to shut the railway down. The locomotives were scrapped and most of the track was removed in 1947, although some was covered over to form a new roadway and is still in situ in 2006.

Restoration as attraction, with the first short section operational[edit]

The Metropolitan Water Board Railway Society was formed with a view to the complete restoration of the line, to provide a visitor attraction. A 300-yard section of the new railway in the form of a continuous loop, the Kempton Steam Railway, is open for rides, and is an extra attraction for visitors to the Kempton Great Engines. A steam locomotive, "Darent", (built by Andrew Barclay in 1903)is on generous loan, and two diesels has been purchased. A new bogie carriage body has been constructed on an underframe bought from the Devon Railway Centre and a 4-wheeled carriage from the same source is being rebuilt. Access to the three mile long old track is actively being negotiated, and in the meantime, the first section of track is open and giving rides to the public on summer Sundays and selected other dates [2]

Kew Bridge Steam Museum[edit]

The historic steam pumping station and museum at Kew Bridge features an extensive display of photographs and some artefects from the Metropolitan Water Board Railway. The museum's own steam railway, the only other one in the London area with locos as large as Kempton Steam Railway, was inspired by the Hampton to Kempton Park line, incorporating some recovered parts of the original trackwork.[3] The Kew museum has been exceedingly generous in its support for the Kempton Steam Railway restoration project, lending one of their steam locomotives during 2013.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Metropolitan Water Board Railway". Locomotives. MWBRS. Retrieved 2014-06-12. >
  2. ^ timetable 2015
  3. ^ "Waterworks Railway". Kew Bridge Steam Museum. Archived from the original on 2007-08-19. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Hampton Waterworks and its Railway System, by Ron Howes and Ann Grant (from Kew Bridge Steam Museum),
    Archive Magazine (March 1998), the Quarterly Journal for British Industrial and Transport History, published by Lightmoor Press [1]

External links[edit]