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What Information Can I find in the Archive?

The Crossness archive contains over 13,000 items in a variety of formats, from engineering drawings to glass slides and VHS tapes. We also have a reference library of over 1,100 books which can be consulted in the archive room (covering subjects such as engineering, sanitation, and Victorian London).

Research topics include 

  • Family history: records about former Crossness staff and residents. Please note that access to some of these documents (e.g. medical records) may be restricted.
  • The history of the Crossness Engines Trust: administrative records, created by the CET (which manages Crossness Museum) and its predecessor the CBEPG (Crossness Beam Engines Preservation Group).
  • The construction and management of Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s Metropolitan Main Drainage scheme: Metropolitan Board of Works, London County Council, and Greater London Council records from the 1850’s to the 1990’s; and engineering drawings for Crossness and her sister pumping stations.
  • Sludge Vessels: Twentieth Century log books containing memos sent to sludge vessel crews.
  • Sanitary ware: plumbing catalogues, and patents for sanitary ware designs dating from 1894 to 1949.
  • River water testing: the archive of former Crossness chemist Arthur Green, which includes the results of water quality testing at various points along the Thames during the Twentieth Century.
  • Victorian London Water Companies: Official reports investigating the quality of water supplied to homes and businesses by various London water companies in the Nineteenth Century

Extract from a patent for An Improved Block for Constructing
and Lining Sewers, August 1900,
©Crossness Engines Trust Archive.

How Can I Access the Archive?

Access to archive material is by appointment only. Appointments are available on Tuesdays, Fridays, or Sundays – the research room opening hours are 10:30 to 14:30.
If you wish to book an appointment to visit the archive, please email
Please note that the research room is climate controlled, so warm clothing is advised.
A step free route to the archive is available. General information about accessibility and facilities can be found here

©Crossness Engines Trust Archive.

Conditions of use of the Archive Research Service

1. Smoking, eating and drinking are prohibited within the collections areas.
2. Pens are not permitted in the archive, please use a pencil to make notes.
3. Visitors must handle objects carefully, following instructions from staff.
4. A member of staff will supervise researchers throughout their visit to ensure the safety of the collection.
5. Archive material must not be removed from the archive room.
6. Please ask a member of staff if you wish to photograph/make a copy of archive material/artefacts.
7. Visitors must comply with all health and safety practices, and, in the event of an emergency, follow fire evacuation procedures.

Behind the Scenes Collections Tours

Have you ever wondered what an archivist does?

Would you like to explore some of the treasures of the collection?

If you answered yes to these questions, then why not join us for a free 30 minute behind the scenes tour of the archive room and museum store on Sunday open days. Please note that the tour is very popular and places cannot be guaranteed’  Find the next open day here.

There is a maximum of 12 people per tour. Sign up at the reception desk, then meet at the top of the stairs in the Boiler House 5 minutes before your tour is due to start.  Older children are welcome to join a tour. A step free route is available.

How do I donate material to the Archive?

Please see below a summary of our Collections Development Policy, which outlines the types of material we aim to collect.

We want to collect:

  • Crossness Engines Trust Records.
  • Archive material about living and working at Crossness, especially:
    • The women and children who lived at Crossness.
    • How World War One affected Crossness and its staff.
    • Social events held at Crossness for staff and their families (e.g. dances and cricket matches).
  • Archive material related to relevant notable people, such as Sir Joseph Bazalgette.
  • Records about the London sewage system.
  • Archive material related to public health (especially water borne Nineteenth Century diseases such as cholera).
  • Archive material about Victorian London.
  • Archive material about engines and pumps.
  • Archive material related to sanitation, drainage, and plumbing.

We DON’T want to collect:

  • Items suspected to have been obtained illegally.
  • Duplicates of existing items in the collection (which may be acquired for the handling collection, if appropriate).
  • Records which do not fit with our collecting policy.
  • Moving image film.
  • Historical sound formats (wax cylinders, open reel tapes and shellac records).
  • Floppy disks.
  • Cellulose Nitrate film.
  • Copies of archive material held at another archive, or available online.
  • Items in poor condition, or which pose a risk to the health of staff and researchers, such as those with:
    • Active mould.
    • Insect damage.
    • Water damage.

Extract from C792, Sick Club Book, ©Crossness Engines Trust Archive ©Crossness Engines Trust Archive.

Thinking about donating an object to the museum?

Please click here for our Collections Development Policy, which outlines the types of object we aim to collect.

If you wish to donate an item to the museum which meets these criteria, please email with a description of the object. Please note that we can only accept an object if we feel that is relevant to the collection and we have the space and resources to care for it. Thank you for your support and understanding.

How do I find out more about the Archive?

Check out the Archives Anecdotes blog