Saturday, August 25, 2007

Steaming Away

We had a lazy morning first thing - tell me something new?! It was a glorious sunny day. Crofton Pumping Station started steaming at 10 am, black smoke coming from the chimney.

That meant that the electric pump was off and the Kennet and Avon canal was relying on steam to keep the water levels up. Just like the old days, although it was taking more manpower today - 9 staff/volunteers to steam and 6 restaurant staff.

Ray Knowles, the most knowledgeable person about the beam engines and Site Manager for the day, was telling us the story of when there was just one man operating it, in the days before electric pumps. He spent most of his time reading a newspaper outside, only checking the beam engine when he heard a warning hiss of steam. He then went and added more coal, checked the gauges and went back to his newspaper! Now it is all H & S, keeping an eye on the visitors and making sure the engines will last into the next century.

Ray (seen above chatting and explaining the Honey Street clock to another visitor) kindly spent time with us explaining the way the two pumps work - talking to him really made it come alive for us. We took lots of pictures and also some videos. Both of which I shall upload in the coming week - so come back to our blog to check if you would like to see the engines in steam.

It was a very interesting morning and we would recommend visiting on a steaming day or weekend.

We returned to Epiphany for lunch and checked the F1 results. Lewis 2nd on the grid - go for it boy, get past that pesky red car tomorrow!

So saying goodbye to Tickly Too,

off we set down the last 3 locks of the Crofton flight and on through Bedwyn Church lock, mooring below Bridge 95 which gives access to Great Bedwyn.

We wandered into Great Bedwyn to shop at the local store opposite the Cross Keys pub, explored the village a bit and also the church. The church has some interesting stained glass windows and the tomb of Jane Seymour's father (of Henry IV fame). Outside there is a Preaching Cross so if they didn't get you converted inside they could try outside! Either that or the Vicar's sermons were so long the congregation left before the end and he stood on the cross steps finishing it before they escaped out of the gate!

Great Bedwyn is a pretty village with some interesting houses and a stone mason with a sense of humour. Again come back for more photos! The only drawback of the mooring is the railway line and station but we quite enjoy the trains and do not get disturbed at night as there are so few, if any trains then.

I am still within my work area but really feel as if I am on holiday as approaching the villages and towns from the canal is so different and to date I have not bumped into anyone I know through work!

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