Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Another Engineering Marvel - Claverton Pump House

There are only two ways to get to Claverton Pumping Station, by road or by canal. Both can be done under engine power and I suppose by shanks pony too!

We turned down Ferry Road - the road approach - a very narrow downhill lane. There were no parking spaces left all the way down to the railway crossing. Then it is a walk across the crossing to the entrance. It was interesting to note that because of the nature of the site it is definitely not "disabled friendly".

So failing to park we thought we would explore the other side of the valley to see if there was access via a foot path - no such luck. Having explored a very narrow road we finally asked a farmer who told us that there is no river crossing giving access. So we decided to park at Dundas Aqueduct where there is a car park for the Visitor Centre and walkers.

After a quick visit to the visitor centre for a "comfort break" and an ice cream we set off on the towpath towards Claverton - approximately three quarters of a mile. A gentle walk at my speed!

The basin at Dundas was busy and this lovely boat was moored there. She is owned by the Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath and can be booked for trips.

The Lady Sophina

On our way we saw a number of boats on the move and this was the scene at Millbrook swing bridge (179). There were a lot of cyclists too!

After this there are some permanent moorings which were very empty. Maybe boats were out or maybe it is a bit isolated from amenities etc? We arrived at Claverton Bridge (180) which is the Ferry Road bridge just as a hire boat was mooring on the 24 hour moorings there which are only a short stretch.

So we wandered down the road, across the railway line to the entrance.

As we went in we spoke to one of the volunteers there who said they had been very busy for which they were glad as they have to have 9 volunteers on site when it is a pumping day - for the Elf and Safety regulations!

We were lucky to have one of the long term volunteers give us a guided tour which made the place come alive. We were fascinated. This is the plan of the pumping station.

The water wheel is 24 feet wide and 17 feet in diameter

It has been restored now in Iroko wood as the original elm doesn't like the alternating wet and dry conditions that occur as the station is only active a few times a year.

The Pit wheel and Fly wheel

Both are 16 feet in diameter and the Fly wheel drives two cranks which are attached to the beams engines above. One end of each beam is in Watt Parallel linkage providing vertical motion to the lift pumps. These pumps lift 50 gallons of water via a pressure vessel (the green thing on the outside of the pumping house). 98,500 gallons per hour - some engineering!

More details are here.

More photos to come in the next day or so - and more about what you can see at Claverton Pump House!

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