History on your Doorstep

Linda Roberts shares the inside track on the Kempton Steam Museum and Waterworks Railway.

For those of us who travel back and forth over the A316 flyover, have you ever wondered about the history behind the iconic giant chimneys on the horizon as you journey into central London? Or can your car passenger, with a quick glance, spot a beautiful 1915 steam locomotive puffing around a railway track beside the A316 pulling passenger coaches? In fact, the chimneys are an important part of Kempton Steam Museum, and the steam locomotive is the star of the Hampton Kempton Waterworks Railway (HKWR). The Museum and Railway are part of a fascinating past in England’s industrial heritage and played a key role in the supply of clean drinking water to the people of London. 

These two attractions, situated under the A316 make for a fabulous family day out. HKWR is one of the only operational steam narrow-gauge railways of its kind within the M25 and it has a fascinating heritage to explore. Kempton Steam Museum, right next door to the railway is home to the world’s largest working triple-expansion steam engine which is as high as four stacked double-decker buses. The great pumping engine along with its identical twin, pumped vast volumes of London’s drinking water from 1929 to 1980 and the narrow-gauge train moved coal from the River Thames to feed the giant steam boilers (hence the tall chimneys) that that drove the engines to pump water to London.

Every Sunday and some Saturdays, from March to November, the railway is open for visitors and holds exciting events throughout the year such as Superheroes Day and Halloween Ghost Train. There’s a lovely picnic and play area with countryside picnic tables where children can run around freely and play train driver on the ‘Kempton Flyer’. The museum is open for static viewing on select Sundays, and on rare weekends, you can also see the mighty engine working and ‘in steam’ as well as taking a trip on the railway.

For HKWR advance bookings visit hamptonkemptonrailway.org.uk for details of opening times, fares, and special events. 

For Kempton Steam Museum advance bookings visit kemptonsteam.org for all details concerning steaming weekends and static viewings. (Please note that a joint ticket for the Railway and Museum cannot be issued.)

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