Tees Cottage Pumping Station

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Tees Cottage Pumping Station Coniscliffe Road, Darlington
River Tees Rediscovered
Supported by The National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund
Open Days

The Pumping Station is open to the public on the following days :

  • 16th & 17th April 2017
  • 13th & 14th May 2017
  • 24th & 25th June 2017
  • 16th & 17th Sept 2017
  • 7th & 8th Oct 2017

About Tees Cottage Pumping Station

What is Tees Cottage Pumping Station?

From 1849 Tees Cottage Pumping Station revolutionized water supply in Darlington and Teesside by offering cleaner, piped water to inhabitants who had previously relied on wells and rainwater tubs. The engines at Tees Cottage pumped water from the River Tees, which was then filtered and supplied to the water company's customers.

Tees Cottage Pumping Station Attractions


Tees Cottage has Lancashire Boilers from 1902, a 1904 steam powered Beam Engine and a 1914 Gas engine, all in operation and still pumping water from the River Tees (although no longer supplying the town's water!) We also have a Blacksmith's Shop, where demonstrations are usually given, and a Miniature Railway, with rides provided by Cleveland Association of Model Engineers for a small additional charge. Refreshments are available in our Tea Room or you can bring a picnic to enjoy in our grounds.

Please view the History and Attractions Page for more information.

Beam Engine controls and valve chest.

Tees Cottage Pumping Station is a Victorian waterworks in Darlington in the North East of England which began supplying water to Darlington in 1849. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument with two completely original pumping engines in full working order. These are displayed running under their pumping load on about four weekends each year. One engine is a two-cylinder compound steam beam engine, still supplied from its original Lancashire boilers and driving its original pumps. The other engine is a two-cylinder gas engine, the largest preserved example in Europe, also driving its original pumps.

The engines are housed in their own purpose built buildings, dating from 1847 to 1901, in themselves superb examples of Victorian architecture. The engines and buildings are carefully maintained, preserved and run by volunteers, supported by the site owner, Northumbrian Water.

Also at Tees Cottage we have a Blacksmith's Shop and Cleveland Association of Model Engineers run model train rides for a small additional charge.

Photograph of Beam Engine controls and valve chest.

The Boilers

There are two Lancashire boilers, dating from 1902. We currently only use one boiler to make steam to power the Beam Engine.

The Beam Engine

This Beam Engine began running in 1904 to replace the earlier smaller beam engines. It pumps water from the River Tees into settling tanks and from there to our fountain, which represents the supply to the town.

Shown here is the beam floor.

Gas Engine

As technology improved, gas replaced steam powered engines. This gas powered internal combustion engine was designed and built by Richard Hornsby. From 1914, like the earlier beam engines, it pumped water from the Tees to settling tanks and then to the town. Gas was originally provided by a Gas Producer Plant, which is still on view.

The Electric Pumps

In 1926, Electric pumps came into use at Tees Cottage and the Beam and Gas Engines were put on standby until the 1970s. The Electric pumphouse is not currently open to the public.

The Blacksmith's Shop

The Blacksmith's Shop was probably used on site originally for making repairs. Working demonstrations are given on most Open Weekends.

Open Days Information

Autumn Gala Weekend

Each October Open Weekend Tees Cottage holds its Autumn Gala Weekend. In addition to our usual attractions we invite stationary engines, traction engines, vintage vehicles and craft demonstrations to our site. The 2014 Autumn Gala has been cancelled.

Tees Cottage Group Visits

Group Visits

If you are planning to bring a large group to one of our Open Days, please let us know. Either use the Mail Form or write to the address given on the Contact Information for Tees Cottage page. If you wish, we may be able to organize for you to have a guided tour of the site.

Groups can also arrange for a static opening of the site at times when we are not normally open. Tees Cottage is suitable for School Visits, as it can make a significant contribution to the studies required in the modern school curriculum. This particularly applies to science, art and decoration, social issues, public health and Victorian studies. School visits can if desired be arranged for the Friday or Monday either side of an Open Weekend, in order for the engines to be working. Please contact us for more information regarding this.

How to reach us

Tees Cottage Pumping Station is sited next to the River Tees on Coniscliffe Road, Darlington.

OS ref. NZ/257138

You can use the postcode DL3 8TF to find Tees Cottage. However, please do not send correspondence to this address.

There is a link to Multimap at the bottom of this page.

The main East Coast service stops at Darlington. From Darlington Station it is a ten-minute taxi ride to Tees Cottage. Tell the driver "Tees Cottage Pumping Station, Coniscliffe Road, just past the Broken Scar picnic area."

Services between Darlington and Barnard Castle stop just outside Tees Cottage. The service provider is Arriva. For public transport information ring traveline on 0870 608 2 608 or visit Arriva's website www.arriva.co.uk

Take A1/A1(M) past Scotch Corner junction, continue on A1(M). Go to Junction 57, sign Darlington, turn onto A66(M). Go down to roundabout at end of motorway, go straight up hill towards Darlington and after half a mile turn left at roundabout onto Carmel Road South. At next roundabout turn left onto A67 Coniscliffe Road, continue until 40 mph sign. In a further 300 yards turn left into Broken Scar Picnic site car park. Our entrance is the Victorian building immediately to your West. From the car park, walk to Coniscliffe Road and turn left.

A1(M) down to Junction 58, signpost A 68, Darlington/Corbridge.(Do not take junction 59, signpost Darlington, as this will take you into the difficult town centre roads). At junction 58 go left towards Darlington. At first roundabout go straight, at second roundabout go straight, and continue through the village of Cockerton. At first mini roundabout go straight. At next mini roundabout (the first of a pair) go right and then immediately left at the second of that pair onto Carmel Road North. Pass a cemetery on your right, then at roundabout turn right onto A67 Coniscliffe Road. Continue until 40 mph sign. In a further 300 yards turn left into Broken Scar Picnic site car park. Our entrance is the Victorian building immediately to your West. From the car park, walk to Coniscliffe Road and turn left.

Use any route to Scotch Corner, then follow instructions in 'from the South' above.
The nearest international airports are Durham Tees Valley (formerly Teeside) (10 miles) and Newcastle (40 miles).

Become a Member

Tees Cottage Pumping Station is run by volunteers who carry out maintenance, run the engines, tea rooms and shop and who work behind the scenes to keep the place going. On the social side of things, we have get togethers (often a barbecue in the Boiler House).

Please email by using the Mail Form (see Contents list) for more information on becoming a member.


Don't forget to come along to our workdays - there's always plenty to do, and something to suit everyone. Please contact a member of the committee before making the journey to ensure the work day is going ahead (telephone numbers can be found on your membership card).

Don't forget that the Tea Room needs cakes for our next Open Day. Following a suggestion and research by Steven Prentice we will now feature links to cake baking websites. As Steven put it, there would be 'no excuses then' for members not contributing in this way

All Recipes: Cakes

The Wednesday Gang

The "Wednesday Gang"

Members of the "Wednesday Gang", who usually meet every Wednesday at Tees Cottage to work on various projects

Visits for members

Visits for members

We have organised visits to other similar sites. These have included visits to Ryhope Engines Museum, to Teesdale, Elsecar and Kelham Island, Papplewick Pumping Station and the Ellenroad Engine House. At Ryhope, members saw the engines working and had the opportunity to go on the Aidensfield vintage bus. For the Teesdale trip we went by coach to Lartington water works, Hury dam, Killhope lead mining centre and Allenheads.

Members at Elsecar

Contact our Honorary Secretary

Please send correspondence to our secretary:

Mr. George Beautyman - +44 (0)7885 242411