Help save a heritage gem

A rare piece of Bath’s industrial heritage is in need of support – financial help to allow a group of volunteers to continue to preserve it from one particular element.

Here to tell us more is Julian Stirling.

Julian Stirling pictured beside the machinery.

“Claverton Pumping Station is a all-volunteer-run museum just a few miles outside Bath. It’s also a rare surviving example of Bath’s industrial heritage. Built during the height of canal mania, the pumping station kept the Kennet and Avon Canal topped up with water, without burning a single lump of coal.

A huge waterwheel powered by the River Avon provided the power to pump 100,000 gallons of water an hour into the canal that provided the inland transport route from Bristol and Bath through to London. 

Claverton Pumping Station is a Grade I listed building as it is truly unique. Surviving waterwheels from the industrial revolution are rare, as are surviving canal pumping stations. The machine is a pioneer of green energy, but the same water power that drives the pump is a double-edged sword when it comes to winter.

As the river level rises in winter the pumping station regularly floods. As the water is two metres higher on one side of the building than the other these floods can be violent – turning any loose items inside into projectiles that can damage the building or machinery. 

Floods are not new in the pumping station. Floods have been recorded since the first years of pump operation, and the highest flood was in 1881. Before the winter flood season, our downstairs is stripped back and winterized to minimize flood damage.

Flood water

Everything is moved into our storage sheds up the hill where only the very highest floods can reach them.

However our largest shed has almost collapsed, the back has fallen out entirely and the roof is propped up with wood. This is putting tremendous strain on our storage facilities. We are asking for funds to help us replace this shed with a stronger outbuilding that can survive the harsh conditions it is subjected to. 

If you can spare something to help the volunteers, click below.

Since publishing this story, Julian says donations have picked up a pace – including one anonymous donor who is willing to match the next £500 worth of donations himself!