Open House Festival

Walthamstow Wetlands

walk/tour, industrial, public realm/landscape

Witherford Watson Mann Architects, 2017

Marine Engine House, 2 Forest Road, N17 9NH

Join us for a tour of the Engine House visitor centre with one of our friendly volunteer guides.

Getting there


Tottenham Hale, Blackhorse Road


Tottenham Hale, Blackhorse Road


123, 230, W4



Accessibility notes

Ramp access to the front and rear of the building. Accessible toilet available. Access to Mezzanine viewing platform via lift in reception.

What you can expect

Second half of tour will be outdoors so suitable clothing and footwear are recommended. Some paths may be uneven and at a slight incline.


About Walthamstow Wetlands

Walthamstow Wetlands is the most significant urban nature reserve development in Britain for many years. This largely hidden working landscape, where Victorian engineering still supplies London's water, has evolved into a distinctive wild space and is now designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), internationally renowned for wildfowl such as pochard, shoveler and huge numbers of tufted ducks. Historic buildings and structures on site include the Grade II listed Coppermill and the Marine Engine House built in 1893, completed in 1894.

The Partners

The wildlife and industrial value of Walthamstow Wetlands is truly unique in London and the opening of the site in 2017 has enabled over 2.5million visits, allowing people to access its natural and architectural heritage. The London Borough of Waltham Forest led the project in partnership with Thames Water and London Wildlife Trust. Further key stakeholders included the Greater London Authority, Natural England and The Environment Agency.

The project was made possible due to major investment in the area. Of the £10.6m total, £4.47m was secured from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, £1.8m from Thames Water and £1.8m from the London Borough of Waltham Forest. £750k from the Greater London Authority also supported the 2km cycling and jogging path through the site.

Industrial Heritage

Water: it has always defined our relationship with this corner of Walthamstow. For centuries the River Lea provided transport and powered mills that were vital for local industries. The area was justly famous for its good fishing, but from the mid-19th century, this rural landscape of rivers, marshes and farmland was dramatically transformed by the creation of the reservoirs. London’s rapidly growing population urgently required a greater, more reliable supply of clean water and Walthamstow was chosen as an ideal location for this purpose. Ten reservoirs were created between 1863 and 1904, each one a greater feat of Victorian and Edwardian engineering skill, and have provided millions of Londoners with their drinking water ever since.

In 1894, the Engine House was built and remained in service until the 1980s – known initially as Ferry Lane Pumping Station, and later, the Marine Engine House, it was designed by the East London Waterworks Company’s (ELWC) architect H. Tooley under the watchful eye of Chief Engineer W. B. Bryan. Underneath the building was a network of underground reservoirs, chambers and pipes that linked the reservoirs and reached as far as Stoke Newington. In 1895, the East and West Warwick Reservoirs were completed and named after the Countess of Warwick, heiress of the local Maynard family, who sold the land to ELWC.

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