This week Chris and I visited a similar pumping station in Kingston, Ontario, now the city's Pump House Steam Museum (we had been there before). I picked up a leaflet telling its history, and this is what it says:
The City of Kingston Water Works Company was incorporated in 1849 ... Prior to this, residents obtained their water from wells or private carters, who would fill a cart from the lake and sell the water in the streets ... Originally, drinking water was collected at the waterfront, where the city also deposited its waste.The restored steam engines that we saw in the pump room had been installed in the 1890s, replacing the older ones. One of these was able to pump 5 million gallons of water per day to the water tower on Tower Street. The facility was manned by two people, a fireman to shovel coal into the boilers and an engineer to keep an eye on the engines which quietly kept the pump in operation.
... Kingston was in the race to become the capital of the Province of Canada. In order to be considered for capital status there was a list of requirements, one of which was having a pumped water service ... Kingston became the capital from 1841-1844 ...
The water was drawn from Lake Ontario to the Pump House via an intake pipe. It passed through the pump to a water tower 1.5km away ... the company began to encounter problems in the late 1880s ... In addition, there was an outbreak of cholera in 1886 due to poor water quality [therefore] the City added three extensions to the existing intake pipe in order to reach the cleaner, fresher water offshore. The pipe was extended to a length of 760 metres and ... still lies on the lake bed today.
I'll add another juxtaposition to this post which brings the story full circle. My father-in-law was a water works engineer as well, employed by the British military. He began his working life as a boiler attendant, shovelling coal.