The living history of waterThe Water Supply Museum is housed in a historical building for the city’s water supply, known as the Old Pump House once belonging to the Thessaloniki Water Supply Organisation, located in the Sfageion area.
FROM THE «FRONT LINE»…
The Water Supply Museum is housed in a historical building complex in the Sfageion area, in the old Pump House of what used to be the Thessaloniki Water Supply Organisation (currently EYATH SA). It was built in the late 19th century (1890-94) at a distance of approximately 1500 meters from the western walls of the historical center of Thessaloniki. Management and operation of the Thessaloniki water supply supply was undertaken at the time by the Ottoman Water Company (Compagnie Ottomane des Eaux de Salonique), founded in 1888 by Belgian financiers based in Constantinople. The project was constructed by Belgian engineers.
The installation of a new, modern water supply network, constituted one of the major infrastructure works to be realised in Thessaloniki in the late 19th century (alongside the railworks, lighting gas, port, tramways, electrification). The construction of the Old Pump House was a project of the first phase, and it included the water intake points from artesian wells in the Sindos valley – close to today’s Kalochori – as well as the pumping and transport facilities and the water supply network. The water arrived at the Old Pump Shous by its natural flow, where large pumps took over to send it initially to two and then to three large tanks (at Vlatadon, Kassandrou, Evaggelistrias). The Kallithea tank was added in 1924.
The Central Pumping Station complex consisted of three buildings: the main engine room, the boiler room, and adjacent to that, a large coal storage room. The director’s residence, on the east of the complex, later completed the construction.
The buildings of the old Pump House were designed and constructed during a period when metal construction was at its peek across Europe. Thus, similar pump station facilities, using corresponding technologies, were constructed during that era in many European cities. This complex is one of the oldest prefabricated models for the city of Thessaloniki.
The pump house operated with two steam-powered units up to 1929. However, the constantly growing water consumption required its pumping capacity to be enhanced with the addition of diesel-powered Korging engines in 1914 and 1924. The addition of a large “MAN” diesel-powered motor in 1929, connected to both the pumps simultaneously, signalled the end of the steam era.
After World War II the pump station was powered by electricity. Three generators were used to supply the required electricity, one American (“Buckeye -Westinghouse”) and two English ones (“Mirrlees” – “Brush”), that were donated and installed as part of the aid for the restructuring of Greece. This new mechanical equipment, preserved to this day, ensured the operation of the five pumping units up to the 1960s, when they were supplied with electricity from the Public Power Corporation, to continue working without break until 1978.
The Old Pump House operated without break until 1978. In 1984, the Board of Directors of the Thessaloniki Water Supply Organisation, as it was called at the time, decided to convert it into a museum. In 1987, at the recommendation of the 4th Ephorate of Modern Monuments of the Ministry of Culture, it was listed as a protected monument. The “Restoration of the Old Pump House and conversion into Water Supply Museum” project was included in 1995 in the Regional Operational Program of the Central Macedonia Region (2nd CSF) and the Projects Program of the Cultural Capital of Europe Organisation – Thessaloniki 97, under the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture, and was implemented by the 4th Ephorate of Modern Monuments.
The restoration of the three historical buildings was completed in 2000, including their mechanical equipment, while their grounds covering near 3000 sq.m. were landscaped. The purpose of the change in the use of this building was to create a museum – living cultural space, combining the restored pump station with its functioning historical mechanical equipment, and at the same time serving as a centre of documentation, research and promotion of a vital for the city infrastructure project.
The museum, through organised school visits, offers a comprehensive experience for the students allowing them to get a closer view of the history of the water supply of Thessaloniki. By extension, it contributes to raising the awareness of the young on matters of water conservation and environmental protection, at a time when the water shortage and desertification problems have unfortunately entered the current agenda.
«OPEN LINE» WITH STUDENTS
Since 2001, the Water Supply Museum has been under the responsibility of EYATH S.A. Its restored buildings receive visits by students of all educational levels. It further offers options for organising educational programs on the subject of water and water supply in general. Also, projections of videos about the water supply of Thessaloniki are realised in a specially designated space of the museum.
The museum’s areas open to the public are:
a. the central pumping building, with its functional pumps and generators (central display room). Located here are the motors and electricity generators, the old power switchboards and the large pumping units that supplied the entire city of Thessaloniki with water up to 1978. A working model is exhibited in this space to demonstrate the operation of the old steam engine with the pump, dating to the initial phase of the pump station.
b. the multi-functional hall (old boiler house), that includes the impressive restored space of the old steam boilers.
c. the administration building, where a specialised library on water and hydraulic works operates and a unique archive of historical maps, water supply project designs of the 19th and 20th centuries and old photographs and documents from the rich archives of EYATH can be found.
d. the Water Park, which has historical pump units and water pipes on display.
The museum receives around 5000 school-aged children, mainly of primary school, on a yearly basis, from dozens of school in Thessaloniki and Northern Greece.
EYATH S.A., with a deep awareness of its corporate social responsibility, supports and promotes the activities of the Thessaloniki Water Supply Museum, the main one being the free admission of children from schools of the greater area. During a period when water issues globally and environmental protection in general are at the front line of current issues, the offer of a comprehensive experience to students in a space containing the living history of the water supply of Thessaloniki, can only be constructive.
For organised school trips call 2310.514029
The Thessaloniki Water Supply Museum is on the city’s western entry, on 17, 26th Octovriou Street, 54627.
Served by City bus line 31 (FIX, Sfageia stop).