'A view of Chelsea Water Works', 1750.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving drawn and published by J Boydell. 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. Initially these were powered by water wheels, but the pumping engine that can be seen in the background of the picture was probably powered by a Newcomen steam engine. By about 1780, this had been replaced by two powerful Boulton & Watt steam engines. In 1829, the world's first public reservoir purification system was installed here. By 1869 the railways into Victoria ran over the site of these water works which had been moved to Putney Heath in 1856.