Mill Meece Pumping Station – A Historic Gem of Staffordshire
Mill Meece Pumping Station is less than 10 minute drive north form Eagle House Bed and Breakfast in Eccleshall.
Nestled in the Staffordshire countryside, the Mill Meece Pumping Station stands as a remarkable reminder of the region’s industrial heritage. This magnificent Victorian-era pumping station was constructed between 1883 and 1884. It’s purpose was to supply clean water to the thriving pottery industry of Stoke-on-Trent. The grand structure was instrumental in providing water for manufacturing processes and the growing population.
History of Mill Meece Pumping Station
The pumping station was first put to work on 25 November 1914 with one engine, the Ashton Frost engine. There were two boreholes and two boilers. The second engine, the Hathorn Davey, pumped from two new boreholes and was first commissioned in 1928. Both engines continued to operate until 22 December 1979 when thew were replaced by modern electric pumps.
The Pumping Station still supplies an average of 2.2 million gallons each day to Severn Trent Water customers. Nowadays is uses powerful electric pumps in each of the 1914 bore holes. The water is pumped four miles northwards to Hanchurch Reservoir. From here it is supplied to homes and businesses in Newcastle and Stoke.
The old Station is now operated by a charity, the Mill Meece Preservation Trust, which has undertaken significant restoration efforts to the Pumping Station.
On July 18th and 19th, 2021, the middle boiler was successfully restored and put back into operation. Both the Ashton Frost Engine and Hathorn Davey Engine were once again brought to life.
architectural Splendor as well as Engineering Excellence
The Mill Meece Pumping Station comprises an imposing red brick building adorned with elegant architectural features, including gothic-style windows and ornate ironwork.
One of its most striking elements is the tower, soaring 38.4 meters (126 feet) into the sky. When the boilers were first installed the fire relied on a natural draft to supply it with oxygen. This natural draft was generated by the upward movement of hot flue gases through the towering chimney.
Within the pumping station’s Engine House, a set of huge steam engines, originally powered by coal, were utilised to drive the powerful pumps. These pumps extracted water from underground wells and supplied it to the local area, ensuring a constant and reliable water source for both industry and residential use.
Preserving the Legacy of Mill Meece Pumping Station
Over the years, the Mill Meece Pumping Station underwent several transformations to keep up with changing technology and demands. Eventually, electric pumps replaced the steam engines, but the iconic Victorian structure remained intact, preserving the rich history and cultural significance of the site.
Today, the Mill Meece Pumping Station stands as a fascinating museum that offers visitors a glimpse into the past. The museum showcases a collection of vintage pumping machinery, illustrating the technological evolution from the steam-powered era to modern electric pumps.
Beyond its engineering marvels, the Mill Meece Pumping Station holds great cultural significance. It serves as a reminder of the region’s industrial heritage, which played a pivotal role in shaping the social and economic landscape of Staffordshire.
How It Works
Visit Mill Meece Pumping Station
The pumping station is open most Sundays during the year, from 12:00 noon to 5 pm. Admission is free when the steam engines are at rest. During the summer there are steam weekends and special rally events. There is a small charge for admission and more information about the next rally can be found on our What’s On page.
Even though the Gentle Giants were replaced by electric pumps in 1979, the preservation of these steam engines allows you to experience firsthand the sight, sound, and smell of a bygone era. As you leave the pumping station, you carry with you an appreciation for the ingenuity and craftsmanship of those who came before, and the role steam engines played in shaping the world.
We visited Mill Meece on one of their steaming days, which coincided with a classic car rally. We found both the car rally and the station itself fascinating. As well as the seeing the station’s engines working, their were also lots of enthusiasts showing off their own steam powered water pumps.
For such a large piece of engineering, we were struck by how quietly it operates.
There are several volunteers who are very knowledgeable and always happy to answer questions.
We spent around 2 hours at Mill Meece Pumping Station. We are not particularly interested in classic cars and imagine a classic car aficionado would have been able entertain themselves for the whole day.
All parts of Mill Meece Pumping Station that are open to the public are wheelchair accessible. Disabled parking is available and was well signposted. All the outside areas we visited were flat but the surfaces are fairly rugged.
Access to the main building is via a ramp. The ramp is long and the slope is gentle. Inside, the main steam hall, shop and museum are on the same level. If you want to see the super heater, this is in a separate room. There is permeant ramp access but it is fairly steep.