The Leicester Group of the Victorian Society have succeeded in having the Former Hydraulic Power Station in Leicester Grade II-listed.
Following an application by the Leicester Group of the Victorian Society, Historic England have recognised the importance of the former Hydraulic Power Station on Samuel Street by granting it Grade II-listed status. The building, dating from about 1874, supplied hydraulic power to the extensive Midland Railway goods yards and warehouses which once covered the site now occupied by the St George’s Retail Park.
Hydraulic power was, at that time, the only mechanical alternative to steam, and was extensively employed for lifting and moving in railway and dock installations. The lower part of the building housed boilers and a steam engine, which pumped water at high pressure to the accumulators housed in the impressive tower at the south end of the complex. High pressure water cannot be stored in a pressure vessel, such as a boiler, and to overcome this problem Sir WG Armstrong invented the “dead-weight accumulator” in which a heavy weighted container was raised on a column of water, which was thus held under pressure until required to be used.
Hydraulic power rapidly went out of fashion when the much more convenient electric motor became available in the early twentieth century. Peter Ellis, Joint Chairman of the Leicester Group said “We are delighted ... listed status will ensure that this interesting remnant of Leicester’s once extensive railway goods facility survives for future generations.
Adjacent to the Power Station is the blocked entrance to the former tunnel which closes the end of William Street. This led to the basement of the warehouse to enable goods to be loaded or unloaded from carts for transshipment between road and rail. Since its formation over forty years ago, the Leicester Group of the Victorian Society has obtained protection for more than fifty buildings in the city and surrounding area.