Keep the wheel turning!

My thanks to Dr Julian Stirling – Chair of the Claverton Pumping Station Trust – for the following article.

“Bath’s original Georgian Pumping Station with a working 200-year-old waterwheel is at risk of never running again unless major repairs can be funded.  Claverton Pumping Station has set up a Just Giving fundraiser in the hope that this important part of Bath’s history can be saved.

Situated two miles from Bath’s centre on the Kennet and Avon Canal, Claverton Pumping Station is home to the giant 7 metre wide waterwheel, built in 1813 to ensure the canal didn’t run dry. The wheel used to power a beam engine capable of pumping over 2 million gallons of water into the canal each day. This water kept the canal functioning as a transport highway from Bristol and Bath to London during the Industrial Revolution.  It was one of the most powerful waterwheels in the country and a true testament to Bath’s often forgotten Industrial past.  

Whilst an electric pump does the work today, the original waterwheel and pumping station is open as an attraction with hundreds of visitors each year.  A team of twenty volunteers maintain the site and help give guided tours.  Architectural students also travel to witness its engineering heritage first hand.  

Earlier this year, cracks have started to form on the cast iron frame threatening its future.  Julian Stirling, Trustee of Claverton Pumping Station Trust CIO said:

 “Cracks in cast iron are very serious, and very hard to mend.  If the damage gets any worse it could be catastrophic. We can’t run the waterwheel again unless we find a way to fund the repairs.

“Inspecting and repairing the cracks will cost £10,000. That is an enormous sum for a volunteer-run museum.”

© Claverton Pumping Station Trust

Claverton Pumping Station has launched a fundraiser to raise the £10,000 needed to repair the machinery. People can support by donating directly on their Just Giving fundraising page here.

Neil Butters, BANES Councillor for Bathavon South, has endorsed the efforts to repair the Grade I listed pumping station by saying: “Claverton Pumping Station is a key piece of local industrial archaeology, well-known throughout the country. It provides an invaluable, operational example of how engineering challenges were successfully tackled centuries ago – and is kept alive by a dedicated band of volunteers. Its educational value will continue to increase with every year that passes. We really must save it for future generations.”

It is hoped if the funding is raised then the waterwheel could be restored and run as early as 2024, bringing this Regency technology back to life.  In the meantime, the pumping station will remain open to visitors throughout the Summer from April onwards, on the second Saturday and second Tuesday of each month, as well as the early May bank holiday.  

Julian Stirling added: “It’s incredible that we could run the pump last year, 209 years after it started operation. It would be a tragedy if that was the last time. We really hope people will donate on our Just Giving page and help us pass on a piece of Bath’s engineering heritage.”