Nostalgia: A look back at the Old Cork Waterworks

Nostalgia: A look back at the Old Cork Waterworks

Buildings of Old Cork Waterworks, 1976.

EARLIER this month Old Cork Waterworks Experience launched an online booking platform, introducing dedicated time slots for visitors to the Lee Road site.

Dating back to Victorian times, Old Cork Waterworks Experience offers guided and self-guided tours that include access to the former boiler and engine houses.

The interactive experience transports the visitor back to a time when poverty and disease were rife in Cork city and city dwellers got their water from the river or from public fountains.

It tells the story of the waterworks development, how it changed people’s lives and the extraordinary impact that it had on the city.

View of Old Cork Waterworks, 1968.
View of Old Cork Waterworks, 1968.

Cork city’s water supply scheme was first established in 1768 at the Old Cork Waterworks.

The treatment of drinking water moved across the road to the current treatment plant in 1879.

The Old Cork Waterworks, the best-preserved Victorian water-pumping station in Ireland, was renovated and developed by Cork City Council as a tourist and education attraction in 2004.

View of the Lee Baths and Old Cork Waterworks, 1975.
View of the Lee Baths and Old Cork Waterworks, 1975.

Previously derelict Victorian buildings, including a 33m-high chimney, a steam engine building and boiler house, were restored to incorporate a visitor centre, an education centre, a café, and a playground and gardens with a picnic area overlooking the River Lee.

View of area surrounding Old Cork Waterworks, Lee Road, 1929.
View of area surrounding Old Cork Waterworks, Lee Road, 1929.

The conservation and restoration works were funded through the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the attraction officially opened in 2005 as the formerly named Lifetime Lab.

Buildings of Old Cork Waterworks, 1936.
Buildings of Old Cork Waterworks, 1936.

In April 2018, the Lifetime Lab rebranded itself as the Old Cork Waterworks Experience.

Cork City Council’s Executive Scientist Mary Walsh said staff are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to the attraction over the summer months. 

Buildings of Old Cork Waterworks, 1929. 
Buildings of Old Cork Waterworks, 1929. 

“The comfort and safety of our visitors are always forefront in our minds.

“With limits on capacity and increased safety measures already in place, dedicated time slots will offer further reassurance and enable visitors to plan well in advance," she said.

“Our online booking facility will also enable Old Cork Waterworks Experience to partner with other city attractions and accommodation providers, which can only be positive for Cork as a holiday destination this summer.” 

Old Cork Waterworks Experience is open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm and Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm.

The site is fully wheelchair accessible.

For further information see www.oldcorkwaterworks.ie

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