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Abbey Pumping Station set to grow

LEICESTER’s popular museum of technology at the Abbey Pumping Station could be set for expansion as part of a wider project that will consider how the city council can put more of its historic items on display.

 

Abbey Pumping Station Exterior

LEICESTER’s popular museum of technology at the Abbey Pumping Station could be set for expansion as part of a wider project that will consider how the city council can put more of its historic items on display.

 Located within Pioneer Park, close to the National Space Centre, the pumping station has more than 55,000 visitors each year. Its main attraction is the historic engine house with its four working beam engines built by Gimsons of Leicester.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby has announced a review to look at how it can be improved as a visitor attraction, how more items can be displayed there, and what can be done with the 1930’s extension which stands alongside the original Victorian engine house and is no longer in use.

The review will also look at the feasibility of replacing the existing mid-1970s transport shed and creating a better dedicated space where visitors could see the vehicles and the volunteers working on them from an indoor viewing gallery.
The council also faces the challenge of finding a new home for the items set to return to Leicester following the closure of the county council’s Snibston Discovery Museum last year.

These include a replica horse-drawn omnibus used in the Leicester pageant of 1932, a Merryweather fire engine, and a Goodwin and Barsby Ltd stone crusher – all of which would help tell the story of industrial and transport history in the greater Leicester area.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The return of the items from Snibston and our review of the pumping station gives us the chance to re-think the way we tell the fascinating stories of Leicester’s industrial past.

“It’s also important that we encourage and develop the growing interest in Pioneer Park, which is home to the National Space Centre and the award-winning Dock, as well as the pumping station.

“The city council’s building of Dock 2 and the University of Leicester’s plans to create a space park in to the north of the river demonstrate the growing economic importance of this area, and we need to ensure that our museum reflects this.

“With the support and enthusiasm of our volunteers, who do so much behind the scenes at the pumping station, our museum of technology will continue to celebrate Leicester’s industrial past, while its neighbours on Pioneer Park help to develop the technology that will drive its future.”

The council is set to hold workshops with interested parties over the next few weeks, before detailed feasibility work gets under way later in the spring. Detailed costings will then be drawn up and funding streams identified.
Pioneer Park is Leicester’s innovation and technology park – one of four key business investment areas in the city.

The Abbey Pumping Station opened in 1891 to pump Leicester’s sewage to new treatment works in Beaumont Leys. The ornate building and beautifully-decorated beam engines demonstrated the great civic pride in this public health achievement. It closed in 1964 and opened as a museum of science and industry ten years later.