Sandfields Pumping Station


Sandfields Pumping Station in Lichfield has a storied and fascinating history.

The building we see now was built between 1871-1873 to house the largest Cornish Beam Engine to be installed outside of Cornwall.  But why was this engine needed? – well that is the subject of ‘Sandfields The Musical’.

Earlier this year we got the news that the Lichfield Lighthouse Company and Lichfield Waterworks Trust were putting on a musical telling the story of this old pumping station, using the medium of the Sea Shanty! Partial to ‘The Wellerman’ coming to bring us sugar and tea and rum, we instantly booked our tickets.

Saturday evening arrived and we walked down to Sandfields.  Given a warm welcome upon arrival by one of the event volunteers we were guided round to the main entrance to be ticked off the list.  Walking into the building, the grandeur of the Victorian engineering never ceases to amaze us.   The ambience for the evening’s performance was set by a small group of musicians, playing suitable background music.

The Trust have worked hard turning a 1960’s extension into an event space and this was the venue for the musical, there was even the obligatory bar and raffle.

Shortly after taking our seats, The Lichfield Lighthouse Company took to the stage.  After an introduction from the Trust Chairman –  Katy Shore-Kapsis, the performance began.  What followed was a tour of 150 years of history, cleverly told through the inspired rewriting of sea shanties and a Nassau Folk song.  The performance swaying from large ensemble pieces, through to more intimate one man and a guitar song.   Through these songs, the Sandfield’s story was told.  We learned how Cholera ripped through the country, how John Snow (not that one!) figured out the problem was the water, how Engineer John McClean fought parliament for a new water company, how Sandfields was built and saved the Black Country from disease.  The success of the pumping station and its eventual end of use were explained, through to more recent history – a tale of demise and rebirth.

Sandfields The Musical

Sandfields The Musical

Sandfields The Musical

We, the audience were encouraged to sing along with the catchy choruses and wave our flags vigorously.

It was a lovely, well written, well performed, entertaining experience.  The Lichfield Lighthouse Company have put a great deal of effort into the show and in the end…

‘’the pumps are stopped, and all are still.  It’s time to go home’’.

To find out more about the Lichfield Waterworks Trust and Sandfields Pumping Station, check out the links below.

Find Out More


Words Garry Llewellyn

Editor JJ

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