Step Back in Time and Visit Claverton Pumping

Most of our hirers if traveling from Sydney Wharf to Dundas aqueduct will pass through Claverton along the canal. This is where there is a wide turning circle allowing for the longest narrowboats to turn safely. There is also below the canal, one of only two operating beam pumps in the country. It is worth taking a look if you have time as it's over 200 years old and still works.

The Claverton Pumping Station is a rare surviving example of the technology of the Georgian Regency period. The pump started work in 1813, the year Pride and Prejudice was published. This amazing pump uses the power of the River Avon to drive a massive waterwheel, this then lifts water up 48ft into the Kennet and Avon Canal. Burning no fuel and making no waste it is the ultimate in environmentally friendly technology.

The pumping station was built by John Rennie between 1809 and 1813 to overcome water supply problems on the canal. It uses a 24-foot (7 m) wide wooden breastshot water wheel to drive two Boulton and Watt 18-foot (5 m) long cast iron rocking beams, which power lift pumps to raise water 48 feet (15 m) up to the canal. The pumping station has undergone several modifications since its initial construction, including revising the wheel into two sections each 12 feet (3.7 m) wide separated by a 9-inch (23 cm) gap. The station's operational life ended in 1952, by which time its maintenance and repair had become uneconomical in the light of falling traffic on the canal.

In the 1960s and 1970s restoration was carried out by students from the University of Bath and the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust, who replaced and repaired the buildings and equipment and returned the pumping station to a functional state by 1978.

The pump is Grade I listed, and is operated by volunteers as a living museum. The pumping station is owned and mainly funded by The Canal and River Trust but is maintained and operated by The Claverton Pumping Station Volunteers Group. At the pumping station you can see the pumping machinery, as well as displays explaining its history and how it works. Usually there are enough volunteers to be able to offer you a free guided tour.

You can relax and eat your picnic on our lawn if you want to combine a visit with a good place to spend the day.

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