Refuelling the Royal Navy: Worthington-Simpson Pumps

Visiting The Scapa Flow Museum at Lyness Hoy has always been a favourite destination for anyone visiting the island. Today the museum has had a complete makeover, however, sadly the only remaining Oil Tank was not included and it looks like it needs attention.

The Pump Room as ever is impressive with its massive machinery which pumped the oil around to refuel the ships of the Royal Navy.

Worthington Simpson was one of the great engineering companies of that era, providing mainly pumping machinery.

Based in London the Worthington Simpson company could trace its roots back to the 18thC when in 1785 Thomas Simpson set up the Lambeth Waterworks. As time moved on and success continued the company was taken over by investors from America. However, Alfred Telford Simpson, who had been chairman of James Simpson & Co., continued as chairman of Worthington-Simpson until his death in 1928. Worthington-Simpson was one of the leaders in manufacture of engines and pumps for the remainder of the 20th century.

 ‘It remained independent until 1969, when it became a subsidiary of Studebaker-Worthington. Mergers and divestitures followed until it came under the Flowserve umbrella in 2013.’ Worthington Simpson Pumps

The list of engines they provided for projects is impressive.

In 1936 the company built eight direct-acting pumps for the Marham Station of Wisbech Waterworks The Brede Valley Waterworks, on the north bank of the River Brede near Brede, East Sussex, was built in the early 1900s. A more recent building houses a Worthington-Simpson pumping engine dating from 1940. During World War II (1939-1945) a Worthington Simpson Pump driven by a Rolls-Royce Kestrel engine was used in a flamethrower known as the Heavy Pump Unit that could project liquid at 3,400 litres (750 imp gal; 900 US gal) per minute, producing a huge jet of flame. In 1961 Worthington-Simpson was described as manufacturers of pumps, compressors and heat exchange equipment. The company had 1,300 employees. Wikipedia

The Pump machinery at Lyness is dated 1937.

Grace’s Guide To British Industrial History has a section on the Newark on Trent Worthington Simpson Factory. It includes images of many more of their pump engines. Flowserve, (See above) formerly Ingersoll Dresser Pumps, still has a manufacturing facility in the town.

At the Scapa Flow Museum you really get an idea of the size of what they were engineering.

a view across the Pump room at the huge tubes and pipes

Fiona Grahame

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