The Society was formed in 1994 with the purpose of restoring the triple expansion steam pumping engines that remained on the Brede site. Two Tangye engines with their ram pumps and well pumps were installed as part of the original Waterworks concept in 1904. They were joined in 1940 by a third pump manufactured by Worthington Simpson as part of the Darwell Reservoir Project and all three units operated until the end of steam in 1964. Sadly one of the original Tangye pumps was broken up in 1969 but it is very fortunate that the two other examples remain largely intact.

Over the years other examples of water pumping engines have been saved and brought to Brede for restoration and display. Acting as a non-profit-making company and a registered charity, the Society’s declared aims are to restore and operate heritage water pumping artefacts from the water industry and to educate the public in the technologies associated with the water pumps and the role they play in bringing safe drinking water to the home.

Giants of Brede, Tangye House

We operate the pumps throughout each open-day. Our Guides will be on hand to tell the story of how the water was drawn from the large wells penetrating the rock (Ashdown Sandstone aquifer) beneath the River Brede, how it was purified and then pumped into service reservoirs on The Ridge above Hastings for distribution by gravity via the pipe networks serving Hastings.

The American Connection

Brede’s uniqueness is its collection of water heritage artefacts going back to 1889. They tell their story of the development of safe drinking water for public consumption in the UK and especially in the Hastings area of 1066 Country. Some of the exhibits have a direct American link with the Worthington Pump Company of 1903 which amalgamated with the English Company of James Simpson in 1917. They then traded as Worthington Simpson who produced water pumps on a large scale through to the last example of a triple expansion steam engine in 1940. This unit was installed at Brede for the Hastings water supply and has always been at the Brede works.

It has now been restored back to an operational mode by the Brede Steam Engine Society.

Additionally, the Society has saved and restored other examples of Worthington Simpson engines. A further American link is through the use of Ingersoll Rand air compressors, one of which is a vintage steam driven unit manufactured by Ingersoll Sergeant prior to 1905. Having won a recent competition, the Society believes this unit is the oldest working compressor of its type in Europe, Asia and India.