The Architecture of Steam

BookThe Architecture of Steam

The Architecture of Steam

Waterworks and the Victorian Sanitary Crisis


January 31st, 2023





Steam pumping stations are exceptional buildings, a rousing, eloquent architecture designed by engineers, and an industrial edifice intended to express civic pride. They were invented, perfected and superseded in barely a century during the determined struggle to overcome the historic threat to urban life posed by industrialization. Of the buildings of the industrial period only train stations can compete with waterworks for stylistic bravura, carried over into the cool, tiled interiors and the sparkle and warmth of the cherished steam engine.
This first comprehensive account of a remarkable fusion of machinery and structure weaves together architectural fashions, shifting social conditions and engineering inventiveness to show why such care was taken by the communities that commissioned them and by the men who built them, and what makes us take such pleasure in them today. British waterworks heritage is a global reference, for the historical significance of the sites themselves but also for the conservation of the many preserved waterworks, often extending to the reanimation of historic steam engines. No prior knowledge of architecture, sanitation or steam technology is required to enjoy this spirited and richly-illustrated account of a singular British building.

'A well-researched and eloquently presented work that makes for insightful and enjoyable reading whether for work or for pleasure. This book is for anyone with either a passing interest in water heritage, archaeology or architecture, or a more advanced reader who is interested in researching and referencing the architecture of sanitation in 19th and 20th century London.'
Zoe Arthurs MSc, PCIfA, Heritage Management Archaeologist, Trustee for the Association for Industrial Archaeology

Author Information

James Douet is Professor of Cultural Resource Management at CEA Study Abroad, Barcelona, an Industrial Heritage consultant and Editor of The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage Bulletin.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Chapter 1 Pre-industrial waterworks
Chapter 2 Industrialisation 1800-1840
Chapter 3 The sanitary crisis 1840-1860
Chapter 4 The Waterworks Style 1830-1860
Chapter 5 The architecture of sewage 1855-1875
Chapter 6 Water for everyone 1860-1880
Chapter 7 Pumping power and prestige 1880-1930
Chapter 8 Waterworks without steam 1930-1970