'A View of the Fire Engine of Chelsea Waterworks', London, 1810.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Aquatint showing an engine house at the Chelsea Waterworks which contained two Boulton & Watt steam engines. Water works to supply water to the urban population of west London were established on the banks of the River Thames at Chelsea in 1723. In 1829, under the direction of James Simpson, the Chelsea Water Works Company was the first to introduce sand filtration in order to try to purify the water they drew from the polluted Thames. Initially the works were powered by water wheels, then by a Newcomen steam engine, but by about 1780, this had been replaced by two powerful Boulton & Watt engines. By 1869 the railways into Victoria ran over the site of Chelsea Water Works which had been moved to Putney Heath in 1856.