days out London Borough of Bexley

{Exploring} Crossness Pumping Station

Exploring Crossness Pumping Station

Last year we filled our diary with the steaming open days at Crossness Pumping Station. This has been on our bucket list of places to visit in London for years. With one child away we decided to take the tween and the dog to visit one of our bucket list places.

{Exploring} Crossness Pumping Station

Crossness Pumping Station is run by the Crossness Engines Trust and can be found in the London Borough of Bexley near to Abbey Wood Station. Built in 1865 by Sir Joseph Bazalgette as part of Victorian London’s sewerage system, Crossness Pumping Station is a Grade I Listed industrial heritage site. It is open throughout the year for guided tours and public open days. We booked our tickets for a steaming open day and drove to the site and parked in the car park, but you can reach the site via public transport. We took the narrow gauge railway to the Crossness site. The railway is not part of the original site but is a fun addition.

narrow gauge railway at Crossness Pumping Station

You may recognise the interior of Crossness Pumping Station as it has featured in film, tv and even music video including Sherlock Holmes, Jingle Jangle and Victor Frankenstein. Called the Cathedral of the Marshes the site is a surprising find, surrounded today by the pumping stations which superseded the site.

Exploring Crossness Pumping Station on a steaming open day

You can visit three listed buildings and see the four Victorian beam engines, one of which has been fully restored by volunteers and runs on certain steaming days throughout the year. We visited the main building which house an exhibition  about London’s ‘ground-breaking’ sewerage system which continues to serve the capital today, and visited the “The Great Stink Exhibition” which shows why this feat of Victorian civil and mechanical engineering was so badly needed. We particularly enjoyed the historic toilets, flushes and toilet paper holders on display.

exhibition at Crossness Pumping Station

As it was an open day there were lots of talks going on throughout the day, activities for children, as well as a gift shop and cafe. But we were excited to don our hard hats and goggles to visit the Victorian beam engine house.

victorian beam engine room at Crossness Pumping Station

Inside were the four great beam engines, one of which has been restored! It was an amazing site to see and there were plenty of volunteers who could tell you what was going on. Although it was an industrial site it was also beautiful, and the ironwork and stonework is being slowly restored to what it was when opened by HRH The Prince of Wales in 1865.

When opened the site consisted of the beam engine house, boiler house, workshops, a 208ft chimney and 25 million gallon covered reservoir (which is now built over by a later pumping site). Originally there were houses for the workers who lived on site, and even a school house for the children, as this was a remote site on the edge of London.

detail of the Victorian beam engine house at Crossness

We enjoyed spending time in the beam engine house and it’s definitely worth waiting for a day the engine is running as the site, sounds and smells are amazing.

You can visit the boiler house and workshops too where the legions of volunteers are hard at work restoring machines and equipment. The weather was great on our visit so we sat outside and enjoyed an ice-cream whilst soaking up the atmosphere of this little bit of Victorian London.

You can find the Crossness Pumping Station at

Bazalgette Way

Abbey Wood




  • Reply
    Lavanda Michelle
    June 17, 2024 at 2:01 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience at Crossness Pumping Station! Reading about your family’s day out there has definitely sparked our interest. It sounds like such a fascinating place with its Victorian engineering marvels and rich history.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2024 at 2:29 pm

    omg Jenny! This is gorgeous!!! Everything seems so nice and so elegant…I would love to see this in person, so beautiful.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2024 at 3:16 pm

    This is so cool! I loved reading this! Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    Vasu Devan
    June 18, 2024 at 1:36 pm

    What a fascinating place! Sounds like you had great fun. Victorian beam engine house is just amazing which has one restored engine. Thanks for sharing this hidden gem!

  • Reply
    Jupiter Hadley
    June 19, 2024 at 9:28 am

    Oh wow I really do love all of the details there are here! What a fantastic place to visit.

    • Reply
      June 28, 2024 at 8:41 am

      It’s fun if you’re looking for something a bit different.

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