Photo Essay: Inside A 120-Year-Old Steam-Powered Water-Pumping Station

Photo Essay: Inside A 120-Year-Old Steam-Powered Water-Pumping Station

A small village on the left bank of the river Tisza in Hungary hides one of the best-preserved industrial relics I have ever seen. If you wander along the flood prevention dyke near the village, you’ll see an old building with an enormous brick chimney towering above the trees: this is the old Tiszabercel water pumping station, a one-of-a-kind gem from the steam age.

Recently owned and maintained by the Upper Tisza Regional Water Management Directorate — to whom I owe a big thank you for letting me in — this pumping station has been standing here since 1896, and the carefully-preserved machines inside look beautiful and are functional even today.

The building has two main halls. In the first there are two boilers manufactured by Nicholson, each capable of producing 1300kg of steam per hour. In the second room there are two 350hp, 96rpm steam engines and two large capacity pumps manufactured by the Schlick and Láng factories. It is simply amazing to see these iron and copper monsters, representing the cutting-edge technology of their day; they’re symbols of progress, survivors both world wars, and in perfect condition in the 21st century.

The station was operational until 1967, when a new, electric pumping station was constructed next to it. The old facility has been a protected historical site since 1983. I took these photographs to give you a peek inside this unique place.

In the boiler room:

In the engine room:

Outside the pumping station: