The 1848 Public Health Act enabled Tottenham (then a small village) to be one of the first pioneer areas to establish its own Local Health Board and develop community water supply and drainage.
By 1852 the Board had built a small sewage works near the River Lee on marshland behind Markfield House country estate. Victorian social reformer Edwin Chadwick and engineer Joseph Bazalgette visit the site to learn about the advances made -
“Tottenham sets a bright example.”
The works’ contractor dies and untreated sewage dissipates into the River – causing pollution and cholera downstream in London. Various pioneering sewage treatment experiments are tried to find solutions. Meanwhile public inquiries, bans on River disposal and an expanding local population, put mounting pressure on the Local Board.
The Local Board tender for expanded sewage deposit and filtration tank facilities, and new engine house and beam pumping engine to increase capacity. Wood Brothers from Yorkshire win the contract and by 1888 the new works are operational, treating sewage and surface water from Tottenham and Wood Green, before discharge to the River Lee.
Legislation enables site connection to London’s Northern Outfall Sewer. Effluent is no longer treated on site and is pumped to the Outfall works at Beckton. Continually increasing population requires further increased pumping capacity. ‘New Extension Works’ are opened in 1905 to include three new additional sets of steam-driven pumps in another new engine house.
Markfield Pumping Station continues to serve the local population through 2 World Wars. To meet the needs of the post-war population, a new sewage treatment works is developed at in Edmonton, Markfield Pumping Station is considered redundant, the works are closed and much of the infrastructure is removed - except the 1888 beam engine.
The site becomes neglected and derelict. In 1984 a Trust takes on responsibility for the engine, but with insufficient resource. In 2007 Haringey Council regenerate Markfield Park and restore the Grade 2 listed Engine Hall. The Trust restores the beam engine to full working order in 2008 and the Markfield Beam Engine and Museum opens.