Crofton Pumping Station

Crofton Pumping Station
The pumping station with smoke, shown on a running day in 1999

Crofton Pumping Station is a pumping station near the village of Great Bedwyn in the English county of Wiltshire: it supplies the summit pound of the Kennet and Avon Canal with water.

The original steam-powered pumping station is preserved and still operates on selected weekends. It contains one of the oldest operational Cornish engines in the world, dating from 1812, which is claimed to be the "Oldest working beam engine in the world still in its original engine house and capable of actually doing the job for which it was installed."[1]



Wilton Water, the canal and railway from the pumping station

When the canal was built, no reliable water sources were available to fill the summit by normal gravitational means. However a set of usable springs were found adjacent to the canal route about one mile (2 km) east of the summit pound, and about 40 feet (12 m) below it. Arrangements were made for these springs to feed the pound below lock 60 at Crofton Locks. Some years later a reservoir (Wilton Water) was created to improve the supply to this pound, and this can now be seen across the canal from the pumping station.

Water from below lock 60 was taken by a culvert to the foot of a well sunk from the pumping station, which is built on the hillside more than 40 feet (12 m) above the canal. The pumps take the water from this well and discharge it into a feeder channel next to the pumping station. The water flows along this channel under the force of gravity until it reaches the summit pound about one mile (1.6 km) to the west.

The boilerhouse

For day to day operation, the pumping station now uses electric pumps, automatically controlled by the water level in the summit pound. However the original steam driven pumping equipment has been preserved and is still operational. A single Lancashire boiler provides steam to one or both of two beam engines.

Number 1 engine, built by Boulton and Watt in 1812, is a single-acting, condensing engine with a bore of 42.25 inches (1073 mm), a stroke of 7 feet (2134 mm) and indicated power of 38.6 horsepower (28.8 kW). It drives a 30 inch (762 mm) lift pump capable of lifting 2274 lb (1031 kg), or approximately one ton of water, per stroke, at a rate of 11 strokes a minute.

Number 2 engine, built by Harvey and Co. of Hayle in 1846 and rebuilt in 1903, is a single-acting, condensing engine with a bore of 42 inches (1067 mm), a stroke of 7 feet 8 inches (2337 mm) and indicated power of 42 horsepower (31 kW). It drives a 30 inch (762 mm) force pump capable of lifting 2235 pounds (1014 kg), or approximately one ton of water, per stroke, at a rate of 10.2 strokes a minute.

An interesting feature of the pumping station is that when the Great Western Railway built its railway line through the area, it passed very close to the station and between it and the canal. Access between the canal side and the pumping station is now via a very low roofed tunnel.


The beam gallery with the 1812 engine in operation

The pumping station was built between 1807 and 1809 in time for the opening of the canal in 1810. The station was built to house two pumping engines, but only one, a 36 inch (914 mm) bore engine bought second-hand from the West India Dock Company, was initially installed.

In 1810 a second engine was ordered from Boulton and Watt. This engine, which started work in 1812, is the current number 1 engine, and has been the main engine throughout the steam-driven life of the station.

In 1846 the original 1809 engine was replaced by a new engine supplied by Harvey and Co. and built as a double-acting Sims patent combined cylinder engine. However this engine proved troublesome and eventually fell into disuse.

In 1903 the 1846 engine was rebuilt as a simple single-acting engine and thus became the current number 2 engine. Both engines then continued in regular use until the 1950s, when the state of the chimney forced the removal of the top 36 feet (11 m). The reduced height chimney was unable to provide sufficient draught for the boiler, and it proved cheaper to retire the steam engines and install electric pumps.

In 1968 the pumping station was bought by the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust with restoration in mind. The building and both engines were restored, and the existing irreparable boiler replaced with another of the same type acquired second hand. Number 1 engine was first successfully steamed on April 4, 1970 and the pumping station was officially reopened on the August 21 of the same year by John Betjeman. Number 2 engine was first successfully steamed on November 15, 1971.

Initially the problem of the shortened chimney was overcome by the use of an electric fan to improve draught, but between 1996 and 1997 the chimney was repaired and restored to its full original height of 82 feet (25 m).


The pumping station is open to visitors every day in summer. The engines are steamed on selected weekends throughout that period, and can be viewed in operation. The 'Crofton Beam Engines' website (below) carries admission details.


Position: grid reference SU262622

Nearby towns and cities: Hungerford, Marlborough, Newbury, Swindon

Nearby villages: Great Bedwyn, Wilton, East Grafton, Burbage, Pewsey

Nearby places of interest: Wilton Windmill, Wolfhall, Crofton Locks, Bruce Tunnel

See also



  • Booklet 'Crofton Pumping Station' edition 2, printed by ESP Color Ltd in 2001, no explicit publisher or copyright details but believed to be published by the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust. Obtained from the Crofton Pumping Station in 2004.

External links

Coordinates: 51°21′30″N 1°37′30″W / 51.35827°N 1.62511°W / 51.35827; -1.62511

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем решить контрольную работу

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pumping station — Pumping stations are facilities including pumps and equipment for pumping fluids from one place to another. They are used for a variety of infrastructure systems that many people take for granted, such as the supply of water to canals, the… …   Wikipedia

  • Claverton Pumping Station — with the pump house on the left, the wheelhouse to the right and the millpond in the foreground …   Wikipedia

  • Crofton — ist der Name mehrerer Orte im Vereinigten Königreich: Crofton, im Parish Thursby; siehe Crofton (Cumbria) Crofton, Wohngegend in Orpington; siehe Crofton (Bromley) Crofton, in Stubbington; siehe Crofton (Hampshire) Crofton, Dorf bei Wakefield;… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Crofton — may refer to: Place names In Canada: Crofton, British Columbia, a town in the province of British Columbia, Canada Crofton House School In the United Kingdom: Crofton, Cumbria, in Thursby Parish Crofton, London, a neighbourhood in Orpington… …   Wikipedia

  • Crofton Locks — are a flight of locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal, near the village of Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire, England. The nine locks achieve a total rise/fall of 61 ft 0 in (18.5 m) …   Wikipedia

  • Peckham Rye railway station — Infobox London station name = Peckham Rye manager = Southern zone = 2 locale = Peckham borough = Southwark start = 1 December 1865 platforms = 4 railexits0405 = 1.552 railexits0506 = 1.580 railexits0607 = 2.570 railcode = PMRPeckham Rye railway… …   Wikipedia

  • Kennet and Avon Canal — The Kennet and Avon Canal is a canal in southern England. The name may refer to either the route of the original Kennet and Avon Canal Company, which linked the River Kennet at Newbury to the River Avon at Bath, or to the entire navigation… …   Wikipedia

  • Cornish engine — The pumping station at Cruquius, showing the beams of the pumping engine emerging from the supporting wall A Cornish engine is a type of steam engine developed in Cornwall, England, mainly for pumping water from a mine. It is a form of beam… …   Wikipedia

  • Wilton Water — Infobox lake lake name = Wilton Water image lake = Uk crofton pumping station wilton water.jpg caption lake = With the canal and railway from the Crofton Pumping Station image bathymetry = caption bathymetry = location = Wiltshire coords =… …   Wikipedia

  • Reading to Plymouth Line — The Reading Plymouth line is the central part of the trunk railway line between London Paddington and Penzance railway stations in the southern United Kingdom. It is a major branch of the Great Western Main Line and diverges at Reading, running… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”