Some of the world’s oldest and rarest steam engines were reopened to the public after the £2.3m revamp of a Kew museum.

Some of the 100 volunteers who have put in an estimated 9,000 hours of work mingled with Culture Minister Ed Vaizey and enthusiastic schoolchildren at the launch on Friday, March 21.

Attractions at the rebranded London Museum of Water and Steam include the oldest working steam pump in the world, the waterworks railway and the new Splash Zone.

Penny Jenkins, the museum director, said: “It really is a proud moment for all of us.

“We’re hoping that more people take an interest in the engineering and historical significance of this site.

“This waterworks has been serving Londoners since 1838, and we want people to be aware of its significance and fascinating history.”

Many of those involved have been working with the waterworks, one of the biggest independent museums in the country, in some capacity since its inception 40 years ago.

Project coordinator Richard Albanese began volunteering in 1980 aged just 12, and has been at the museum since.

He said: “Many of the volunteers will tell you that there’s something about the place.

“I was initially interested in the engineering side of things, but soon developed a fascination with the history.”

Education officer Alison Mcintyre said: “It’s great for the children to be able to see both the science and history behind London’s water supply in such an amazing interactive environment.

“They love the old Victorian engines especially; it really is awe-inspiring to see them in action.”