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Object Collection

What can I find in the Crossness Museum Store?

Crossness looks after over 700 artefacts. When they are not on display in the Boiler House or Valve House they live in the Museum Store.

The Museum Store residents include

  • Nineteenth and Twentieth Century UK sanitary ware (toilet bowls, bed pans, chamber pots, and commodes).
  • Scale models of the Crossness buildings.
  • Sludge vessel memorabilia (a bell from one of the ships; and a model of a sludge vessel).
  • Personal items relating to Joseph Bazalgette.
  • Objects found onsite by Crossness volunteers, such as a pair of leather boots; and a gardening newspaper from the 1940s.
  • Small bathroom items (light pulls; soaps; toilet roll holders; toilet roll).
  • Victorian domestic items (wash bowls and jugs; mangles; irons)
  • Paintings/drawings of Sir Joseph Bazalgette and the Crossness site.

How do I access the Museum Store?

There are two ways to access the Museum Store:

  • If you are interested in a specific object/group of objects you can book an appointment by emailing research@crossness.org.uk. Please note that appointments are only available on Tuesdays, Fridays, or Sundays.  You may be asked to wear gloves to handle certain objects such as those made of metal.
  • If you would like a general tour of the objects, then why not join us for a free 30 minute behind the scenes tour of the archive room and museum store on Sunday steaming days. Find the next steaming 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.

EN.2016.11, Assembled Stereophagus Pump

Victorian Toilet

Victorian Toilet

What Can I see on display?

An exhibition consisting of information boards and videos tells visitors the story of London sanitation, from dirt and disease to the improvements made by the construction of the main drainage system in the 1860’s. The museum has sanitary ware objects (toilets, bed pans, chain pulls), on permanent display in the Boiler House, and a collection of small working engines available to view in the Valve House.

Beam Engine House
The museum’s star attractions are the four Victorian triple expansion beam engines in the Grade 1 Listed Beam Engine House.
i. Prince Consort – this engine has been fully restored, and is operational on steaming days.
ii. Victoria – this engine is currently under restoration.
iii. Albert Edward – this engine is in the condition it was left in in the 1950’s.
iv. Alexandra – this engine is in the condition it was left in in the 1950’s.

Workshop
This outbuilding houses Nineteenth and Twentieth Century tools which are still operational today, and used by the volunteers undertaking restoration work.

Other Exhibits
The locomotive Bazalgette, which has been restored by the Crossness volunteers, is also on view.

How can I see the objects on display?

To view the artefacts on display, the beam engines, or the workshop objects, please visit on one of our open days. Tickets can be booked here.

The Object Handling Collection

Crossness also has an object handling collection, which is used during educational visits to enable students to gain a greater understanding of social history. For example, washboards show children how clothes were washed before washing machines were invented. To enquire about an educational visit, please email learning@crossness.org.uk

HC.030, Washboard

Thinking about donating 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 research@crossness.org.uk 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 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:

  • Artefacts 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).
  • Artefacts which fill the following gaps in the current collection:
    • High-end, ornate toilet bowls
    • Modern examples of toilets (e.g. a ‘Portaloo’).
  • Artefacts related to relevant notable people, such as Sir Joseph Bazalgette.
  • Artefacts related to public health (especially water borne Nineteenth Century diseases such as cholera).
  • Artefacts about Victorian London.
  • Artefacts about engines and pumps.
  • Artefacts related to Sanitation, drainage, and plumbing.

We DON’T want to collect:

  • Objects with a lack of provenance.
  • Duplicates of existing objects in the collection (which may be acquired for the handling collection, if appropriate).
  • Objects which don’t fit with our collecting policy.
  • Natural history artefacts.
  • Human remains.
  • Biological or geological material.
  • Any further archaeological material, unless it is found on site.
  • Further items of furniture or natural history, unless they are of express relevance to the Crossness site.
  • Objects 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.