Papplewick was designed by the engineer Marriot Ogle Tarbotton for the Nottingham Corporation Waterworks Company. Between 1885 and 1969 Papplewick Pumping Station provided a supply of fresh water for Nottingham. The water was lifted by two James Watt beam engines from wells over 200 feet deep.

Curriculum is often understood as something contained in a text book, a folder, a set of lesson plans. We see curriculum as something that is active, an ongoing interaction between a teacher, their students and knowledge and know-how. While curriculum involves some records and planning, there are also important values and propositions that underpin pedagogical activities. The water literacies project is underpinned by some key principles and practices:

Teachers from two Nottingham primary schools, Dunkirk and Mellers, worked with artists and university educators to devise a water curriculum.



In countries like the UK we take it for granted that we can turn on a tap to get fresh and clean drinking water. We do not often think about how much ‘virtual water’ goes into the things we use every day, such as our clothing and our food. We do not usually connect our good health with the kinds of sanitation made possible through water engineering. This was not the case not so long ago. And it is not the case now in many parts of the world which suffer from droughts, or where there are no wells or water purification systems.

But changes to our climate may affect our water supplies in future. We may not always have the ready water supply that we now rely on. Pollution and contamination of our waterways and oceans mean we may have to make hard decisions about our priorities.

The Get WET project aims to help children and young people in school think more about these things. We are developing an innovative and creative water literacies project which brings together understandings from Science, Geography, History, Mathematics and the Arts. At the heart of the project is Papplewick Pumping Station, a magnificent nineteenth century waterworks and now a museum, which embodies how our good health and current way of life was secured.

The Get Wet project is an action research partnership between the Papplewick Pumping Station Trust, The University of Nottingham and Nottingham schools and artists. It has been funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the University of Nottingham Centre for Advanced Studies.


University of Nottingham

School of Education, Jubilee Campus, Wollaton Road, Nottingham, NG8 1BB



Ashley Smart, Museum Director

Pat Thomson, University of Nottingham