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Sudbrook Pump House

A Grade II Listed Building in Sudbrook, Monmouthshire

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Latitude: 51.5836 / 51°35'0"N

Longitude: -2.7131 / 2°42'47"W

OS Eastings: 350686

OS Northings: 187429

OS Grid: ST506874

Mapcode National: GBR JK.CJ81

Mapcode Global: VH87Z.XGKD

Entry Name: Sudbrook Pump House

Listing Date: 20 September 2000

Last Amended: 20 September 2000

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 24002

Building Class: Transport

Location: At the end of Sudbrook Road about 1000m south east of Portskewett village.

County: Monmouthshire

Town: Newport

Community: Portskewett (Porth Sgiwed)

Community: Portskewett

Locality: Sudbrook

Built-Up Area: Sudbrook

Traditional County: Monmouthshire

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This building was built and possibly designed by T A Walker and his resident engineer A G Luke for the Great Western Railway. It was constructed in 1886 to house the six 70"(178cm) Cornish beam engines by Harveys of Hayle which were needed to lift the complete flow of the Great Spring, which had flooded the Severn Tunnel workings in 1879 and 1883. It was the largest such engine house in the world. The engines were ordered from Harveys at the end of December 1885. The first was in steam on 1st August 1886, and the fourth at the end of October, which permitted trains to start running through the tunnel. All six engines were still in situ in 1961 although only three were in steam, and these were replaced by electric pumps in that year. The engines were then removed and broken up. The Great Spring is still pumped continously from the bottom of the 165' (50.3m) shaft and the water is supplied to the nearby paper mill.


This is a large rectangular red brick building with a hipped Welsh slate roof. It is ostensibly of three tall storeys but is actually one volume internally. It is built over an immensly strong basement which supported the weight of the six massive Cornish beam engines it was built to house. The bricks were made locally in the contractor's own brickworks from clay excavated from the Severn Tunnel. The building is 7 x 3 windows, all with arched heads and small paned iron frames. All the windows survive apart from a few small ones which originally lit the basement and are now blocked. The entrance is in the short wall, a central panelled door up a flight of steps, both this and the flanking windows are framed by four orders of brick arches, plain windows above, circular window in the attic. The street elevation has the windows arranged unevenly, 2 3 2. The first floor window at either end is blind. Tall narrow doorway in the centre for the reception of machinery. The other short wall is almost entirely masked by a large wrought iron water tank supported on a brick plinth. This has a central entrance door and flanking windows and a single window on the returns. This structure was built independently of the main pumphouse but is probably contemporary. Only the circular window on the main house is visible, but it can be seen that the top floor windows have never existed. The rear long wall to the yard is as the street elevation except that the centre three windows are masked by a modern gabled wing which rises to the second storey.


The interior was not seen at resurvey, but it is evident that it remains one space. It was built to house six 70"(178cm) beam engines, the beams of which each weighed 20 tons (20.32 tonnes). There were three bucket pumps at one end and three plunger pumps at the other; only four had to be working at any one time. The immensely strong bob walls which supported these have presumably been removed. The internal space is now largely redundant because of the small size of the electric pumps which still work continuously.

Reasons for Listing

Included as an important part of the historic engineering site of the Severn Tunnel and as possibly the largest ever example of a Cornish engine house.

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