Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More To See At Claverton Pumping House

One of the jokes we have heard about the Kennet and Avon (and I suppose it can be adapted for any canal) is that if BW get too many problems and cannot manage the upkeep of the canal they could always pull the plug in the bottom of the canal. It was only when we visited Claverton Pumping Station that we realised it is a joke founded on truth!

At one time there were many drain plugs along the length of the K & A known as "Nine Mile Pound" This is the length between the top lock at Bath and the lock at Bradford on Avon. It was divided into convenient sections by means of stop planks and each section had one of these.

Drain plugs, operated by a windlass and attached chain, were used where the canal was higher than the surrounding ground and the water would drain through a culvert into the river below.

Draining the canal for re puddling and maintenance was a common occurrence before the restoration. Now the pound is lined with plastic sheeting and concrete and sluice gates have replaced the plugs, draining into the old culverts. This seems less interesting somehow but maybe in years to come others will feel the same way about plastic and concrete!

Claverton Pumping House is set in a valley between the canal and the River Avon (unnavigable). On the wall by the pit and fly wheels are flood marks. The most recent ones are small brass plaques but the oldest one is carved in the wall, along with the traditional builders marks which dot the wall.

March 3 1842

The highest flood was in October 2000.

30 10 2000

As you can see from this photo that was well above the height of the water wheel.

So difficult to imagine and what a nightmare to clean up afterwards.

There is still more to see at Claverton so more to come from this blog in the next day or so!

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