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Little Hay Pumping Station and the two front entrance gates and gate piers

A Grade II Listed Building in Shenstone, Staffordshire

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Latitude: 52.6253 / 52°37'30"N

Longitude: -1.8193 / 1°49'9"W

OS Eastings: 412328

OS Northings: 303071

OS Grid: SK123030

Mapcode National: GBR 4FF.GVC

Mapcode Global: WHCH2.08YR

Plus Code: 9C4WJ5GJ+47

Entry Name: Little Hay Pumping Station and the two front entrance gates and gate piers

Listing Date: 4 March 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1421471

Location: Shenstone, Lichfield, Staffordshire, WS14

County: Staffordshire

District: Lichfield

Town: Lichfield

Civil Parish: Shenstone

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Staffordshire

Church of England Parish: Shenstone St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

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Water pumping station including the front gates and piers, built in 1929, the chief engineer was F J Dixon, built in a Free Renaissance style for the South Staffordshire Waterworks Company. Not included in the listing is the timber boundary fence in front of the pumping station, the corrugated sheds to the rear, a brick water treatment building and the surrounding septic tanks.


Water pumping station including the front gates and piers, built in 1929, the chief engineer was F J Dixon, built in a Free Renaissance style for the South Staffordshire Waterworks Company.

MATERIALS: brick with red Hollington stone dressings.

PLAN: rectangular plan on a north to south alignment.

EXTERIOR: single storey and basement. Facing west is a seven-bay front elevation. The wide central stone entrance has a deep lintel inscribed LITTLE HAY/ 1929, and modern double doors. It is flanked on either side by three full-height segmental-arched windows with glazing bars and margin bars, and keyed architraves. At either end of the elevation are rusticated pilasters with stone capitals; there are similar vestigial stone capitals between the windows. Above is a narrow cornice and coped parapet. Within the parapet are raised, circular panels and a wide, central, stone frieze inscribed SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE WATERWORKS COMPANY. The basement projects from the west front to form a railed terrace, with a panelled front cut by central steps which divides at the bottom, with a bow front and topped by railings with ball finials. The side elevations are of three shallow-gabled bays. The basement level has a central entrance (with a modern set of doors on the south elevation and brick in-filled on the north elevation), flanked by two metal casement windows. Above are three full height windows, the centre of which is set forwards, in the same style as the front elevation. To the rear is a three-storey office and services bay with a central first-floor taking-in door on the east elevation and an irregular arrangement of metal casement windows. The roof is topped by a glass lantern.

INTERIOR: the overall plan has remained largely unaltered with only minor changes to the internal divisions within the rear office range. The large central engine hall has red, green and cream tiled walls and a red tiled floor arranged in a herring-bone pattern with blue tile detail. An overhead cast-iron crane gantry is supported by pilasters. The roof is supported by reinforced concrete arched roof beams. It still contains parts of one of the two original six-cylinder four-stroke heavy oil engine pumps supplied by W H Allen and Sons of Bedford. One of the two cast-iron stairs leading from the main hall to the basement level survives. The basement contains brick tanks, drains and maintenance corridors. Most of the original internal timber doors survive, as does the foundation plaque, and original temperature and depth gauges. To the rear of the building is a tiled manager’s office with a framed historic plan of the pumping station fixed to the wall, service rooms and cast-iron staircase. The later electric pumps, the other modern pumping machinery, control centre and the modern plant are not of special interest*.

* Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the later electric pumps, the other modern pumping machinery, control centre and the rest of the modern plant are not of special architectural or historic interest.

ANCILLARY STRUCTURES: in front of the building are two sets of rusticated brick gate piers with metal gates that are included in the listing.

The timber boundary fence in front of the pumping station, the corrugated sheds to the rear, a brick water treatment building and septic tanks surround the building, including the original sceptic tank which lies 22m to the south-east are excluded from the listing.


South Staffordshire Water Company (SSW) was formed in 1853, under the guidance of the eminent civil engineer John Mclean, who had long been working to improve and extend the uncontaminated water supply to the South Staffordshire area. By the C19 the district had become densely populated and surface water supplies were often contaminated by local mining works. SSW expanded over the late C19 and C20 as it took over the neighbouring waterworks suppliers of Dudley (1862), Burton (1864), Kinver (1929) and Tamworth (1962). It became South Staffordshire plc. in 2004.

Little Hay Pumping Station was built in 1929 as one of a number of new water works built following the South Staffordshire Waterworks Act of 1922. This act empowered the company to proceed with building works at Slitting Mill, Sandhills, Little Hay and Prestwood. Powers were also granted for constructing reservoirs at Shavers End, Coseley and Cawney Hill. Little Hay was brought into operation by 1930. The chief engineer was Frederick Jones Dixon (1869-1949), who was appointed to the position in 1917. His term of office at South Staffordshire Water saw the construction of twelve new pumping stations (nine new sources) as well as 13 new reservoirs and tower, including Seedy Mills Pumping Station, Lichfield (Listed Grade II). In 1943 he was made a Commander of the most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Thomas Lowe and Sons constructed the station and the two adjoining cottages to the south (these have since become privately owned).

Two six-cylinder air-blast injection Allen Diesel Engines were supplied by W H Allen and Sons of Bedford. Each engine drove through a double-helical speed-increasing gear, a vertical spindle-turbine type borehole pump and a vertical spindle-turbine type booster pump, both mounted on the same vertical shaft. William Henry Allen (1844-1926) established W H Allen and Co., later known as W H Allen and Sons, in 1880, specialising in producing steam and later diesel engines and dynamos for naval and commercial vessels, including the Olympic and the Titanic. In the 1920s the business struggled with the loss of government contracts following the end of the First World War. They diversified to attract new commercial clients, including producing diesel engines for water pumping stations. One of the company's largest orders at this time was for the Metropolitan water board’s new pumping station near Hampton Court.

In accordance with the Act, the pumping stations design was required to adhere to new measures brought in to protect wells and other water sources in the vicinity of the station. The boreholes needed to be lined to a depth of fifty feet from the surface to keep out all surface waters. The two boreholes are 220 feet deep; their diameters vary from 44 inch to 24 inch, and were sunk by Messrs. Isler and Co. Ltd. The borehole pumps were capable of lifting 55,000 gallons of water per hour from a depth of 150 feet below basement level, discharging into the settling tanks in front of the engine house where chlorine was added. Booster pumps delivered water from these tanks to Barr Beacon Reservoirs against a head of 425 feet through an eighteen-inch steel main which connects into a twenty-four inch main at Watford Gap. In 1949, one of the Allen diesel engines was uncoupled from the pump, the gear box removed and an electric motor substituted for the diesel engine before it was completely removed in 1989/90. The other surviving Allen engine is no longer in use and has lost the original pump and gearbox, which were removed after a de-nitrification plant was commissioned. The original cooling water tank and the fuel header tanks have also been removed or replaced.

Reasons for Listing

Little Hay Pumping Station and the front gates and gate piers, a 1929 waterworks built for South Staffordshire Water, but excluding the other detached ancillary structures, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: it has a particularly impressive design, with local red Hollington stone detailing and a sophisticated use of brick;

* Date: it is an example of a well-designed inter-war pumping station, given a high level of architectural attention and exuberance;

* Intactness: the plan of the building has undergone little alteration and it has retained much of its internal decoration, as well as part of one of the original Allen diesel engines;

* Association: it was designed in-house by F J Dixon, who is also responsible for Seedy Mill Pumping station (Grade II) and oversaw one of the most eventful periods in South Staffordshire Water's history.

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