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London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/2558/SV/04

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1855-1906

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 7.9 linear metres

Name of creator(s): Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company


Administrative/Biographical history:

The South London Water Works Company was incorporated in 1805 and originally drew its water from the Effra which flowed into the Thames at Vauxhall Creek. The company constructed works at Kennington and Vauxhall Bridge. In 1832 the supply of water from the Effra was abandoned as the water was polluted and silted up. Two years later, in 1834, the company changed its name to the Vauxhall Water Works Company and a limitation on its right to supply part of Lambeth and Newington (already within the Lambeth Water Works Company's area) was lifted at the same time by statute.

In 1718 a grant was made by the City of London to Francis Wilkinson to supply water to Southwark, procuring water from the Thames. In 1761 the London Bridge Water Works bought this business from a James Whitchurch whose father had acquired it from Wilkinson. In 1822 the New River Company took over the London Bridge Water Works and sold this Southwark interest to John Edwards Vaughan who, in 1820, had become the proprietor of another undertaking, the Borough Waterworks. In July 1834 the Southwark Water Company was incorporated and empowered to buy up Vaughan's undertaking and to construct new works at Battersea. The old intake at Bankside was abandoned at the same time and a temporary supply was taken from the Lambeth Company. In 1845 new works were built at Battersea on the approximate side of the Power Station and in 1855 an intake from the Thames was introduced at Hampton. Wells were also sunk at Streatham, Honor Oak and Merton Abbey in 1888 and 1902. In 1861 the Company took over the Richmond Water Company.

Between 1839 and 1842 there was a period of unfruitful competition between the Vauxhall company and the Southwark and Lambeth companies. Eventually in 1845 the Southwark and the Vauxhall companies were amalgamated to form The Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company. The works at Kennington were dismantled and conveyed to the Phoenix Gas Company in 1847.

The Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company acquired land at Hampton in 1851 and in 1852 an Act was obtained to sanction the construction of new works and to enlarge the authorised supply area. In 1870 the company began filtering the water at Hampton and the following year, in order to prepare for the introduction of constant supply, decided to construct four covered reservoirs at Nunhead. Peckham, to be supplied with filtered water from Hampton.

A high service reservoir was built on Forest Hill in 1887 and a pumping station at Wandsworth was brought into use in 1891 for pumping to Wimbledon and the higher levels. Wells were sunk at Streatham in 1888 and later at Honor Oak (1901) and Merton Abbey (1902). Throughout the 1890s additions were made to the Hampton works and by 1903 the company was able to dispense with the Battersea Works.

As a result of the Metropolis Water Act 1902, the Metropolitan Water Board took over the functions of the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company in 1904. When it did so the company was in the course of constructing storage reservoirs at Honor Oak and Walton.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company relating to water supply and distribution, including Engineers' report books; Supervisors' report books; service pipe agreements; meter agreements; trade supplies report books; constant supply orders; building supplies registers; meter supplies records; fire report books; engine and coal accounts; calculations and statistics; works diaries; mains supply map books and registers of complaints.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Within each company the records are divided as follows:
A (1) Corporate Records - including board minutes, parliamentary and legal papers.
B (2) Accounting Records - these are usually very extensive but do not include stocks and shares records which appear in section A.
C (3) Staff Records.
D (4) Water Supply and Distribution Records - including engineering and technical files.
E (5) Purchase Records - including stock books.
F (6) Property Records - many property matters are however dealt with in the legal papers in section A.
G (7) Miscellaneous Records.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the depositor.

Physical characteristics:


Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Archival history:

Prior to their transfer to the Greater London Record Office, the records of the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company were housed in muniment rooms at Thames Water premises, Seething Wells, Surbiton and at New River Head, Rosebery Avenue, EC1.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited in 1988, as part of a larger accession of records from Thames Water.


DESCRIPTION NOTES Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: November 2009 to February 2010

Business records | Documents | Information sources
Drinking water | Water
Engineers | Scientists | Scientific personnel | Personnel | People by occupation | People
Water companies | Utility companies | Companies | Enterprises
Water consumption | Water resources management
Water supply | Water resources management
Water utilities | Utilities | Service industries
Water-supply engineering | Engineering
Waterworks | Industrial facilities | Facilities
Company archives
Engineering personnel

Personal names

Corporate names
South London Waterworks Company
Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company
Southwark Water Company
Vauxhall Waterworks Company

Lambeth (district) | Lambeth | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Southwark (district) | Southwark | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Vauxhall | Surrey | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe