The InventorHerbert Albert Humphrey was born in London on 2nd December 1868, and by 1901 he had set up an engineering consultancy. Previously he had been involved with the Mond Organisation and was associated with the formation of the South Staffordshire Mond Gas Company, having an agreement with the company to do research work.
The PatentHe patented the direct acting internal combustion pump in 1906, and by 1909 an experimental four-stroke pump test rig was operating at Dudley Port. Attention was drawn to his work in a paper presented to the Institution of Mechanical engineers in November 1909. The question and answer session following the presentation of the paper was carried over to another evening, which drew record attendances.
Historical ContextThe period at the start of the 20th Century was one of rapid technological advances. The newly invented internal combustion engine was being developed to a stage where it could challenge the dominance of the long established steam engine. Any new development is gas engine technology attracted much interest and it is into this arena that the Humphrey Pump was presented.
Brussels ExhibitionIn 1910 a pump was exhibited at the Brussels exhibition, this lifted 250,000 gallons of water per hour to 35 feet. It was awarded two ‘Grand Prix’ one in the class of engines and the other in the class of pumps.
Installation at ChingfordAt the time Humphrey’s paper was presented, the Metropolitan Water Board was planning the building of the Chingford reservoir in the Lea Valley. Pumping plant was required to lift raw water from the river Lea into the reservoir. After much consideration, the Humphrey Pump was chosen. To give the required pumping capacity, four pumps capable of 40 million gallons per day and one pump of 20 million gallons per day were installed, manufactured by Siemens Brothers Dynamo Works of Stafford. The larger pumps have a cylinder bore of 7 feet. The station was officially opened on 15th March 1913 by King George V.
Two Remaining InstallationsThe pumping station at Chingford is one of only two remaining Humphrey Pump installations in the world today, the other one is at Cobdogla in South Australia, which is kept in working order and is open to the public.