AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area


Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/2558/LB/04
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Date(s): 1780-1822
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 0.85 linear metres
Name of creator(s): London Bridge Waterworks Company


Administrative/Biographical history:

The distinction of being the first to supply London houses with water by mechanical means goes to a certain Peter Morris, a land drainage engineer and a servant of Sir Christopher Hatton, the Lord Chancellor. His nationality is uncertain. Stow describes him both as a Dutchman and a German. Negotiations between Morris and the City started in 1574 but it was not until 1581 that he was granted a five hundred year lease of the first arch at the northern end of old London Bridge to house a tide wheel driving pumps of his design. In 1582 he obtained a similar lease of the second arch to accomodate another wheel. These enabled him to supply houses in the southern and eastern parts of the City. The works were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 but their reconstruction was authorised by Act of Parliament in the following year. In 1701 the lease of the fourth arch of the bridge was granted to Morris's grandson, Thomas. Morris and his family sold the undertaking for 38,000 to Richard Soame who also acquired a forty three lease of the City conduit waters and an undertaking at Broken Wharf, near St Paul's, started in 1594 by Bevis Bulmer, a mining engineer, for the supply of the western end of the City. The whole was united into a partnership called "The Proprietors of the London Bridge Water Works" and was subsequently divided into 1,500 shares of a nominal value of 100 each.

By the mid eigteenth century the waterworks consisted of five water wheels occupying three arches and driving sixty four small pumps. Some 1,500,000 gallons a day were pumped on an average. In 1761 a lease of the third arch of the bridge was obtained for the purpose of affording a supply to Southwark. In 1767 two further arches were leased, the fifth from the northern end and the second from the southern end of the bridge, the latter being used in place of the third for the Southwark supply. Among the eminent engineers consulted as to the effect of these additions on the structure of the bridge and on the navigation were Brindley, Smeaton and Robert Mylne, the architect of the Blackfriars Bridge and later engineer to the New River Company.

A steam engine was installed at the northern end of the bridge about the year 1762 in order to assist the supply at the turn of the tide. At the beginning of the 19th century the works are stated to have been capable of furnishing a supply of nearly four million gallons a day. The great fall of water occasioned by the water wheels endangered navigation through the bridge and in 1822 an Act was passed for their removal. To ensure the supply of water, provision was made for the undertaking to be conveyed to the New River Company who forthwith began to dismantle the wheels. The old bridge was taken down in 1831 and replaced with one designed by John Rennie, this survived until 1968.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the London Bridge Waterworks Company relating to water supply and distribution, including water rental books; particluars of improvements to iron pipes; log book for steam engines and account of the working of the fire engine.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

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.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

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

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

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

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Corporate Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Placename Search

* To search for other records with similar placenames, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"