Crofton Pumping Station

1 June 2002

The summit level of the Kennet and Avon Canal is 450ft above sea level, some 40ft higher than reliable local water sources needed to replenish the water in the summit level. The original plan when the canal was proposed was for a summit level at 410ft, but this would have required a long tunnel, and a cheaper alternative was sought. The steam engine at Crofton was used to lift water 40ft into the higher summit level, saving 41,000 on the total construction costs of the canal.

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Lucy and the brick chimney, built in 1856 to replace a previous iron one. The top 36 feet were declared unsafe in the 1950s and removed, and the reduced draft made the pumping station unworkable, and it was closed.

However, in 1968 the pumping station was sold to the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust, who have lovingly restored it, and the chimney was rebuilt in 1996-97 to its original height of 82 feet.

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Looking from the pumping house across the railway to lock 62 on the canal, and Wilton Water, from where the water is pumped into the canal.

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Inside the pump house, the driving platform for one of the engines and the complex valve gear being operated by hand as the engine warms up.

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The beam of one of the engines appears through the ceiling.

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On the top floor, the beam of the 1846 Harvey engine.

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The cylinder head room

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A Lancashire boiler, 27 feet long and 7'3" in diameter.

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Over a ton of water rushes out every few seconds into this channel, which runs around the hillside to enter the canal above the top lock.

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This completed our tour of one of the lists of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways, the others being Bingley Five Rise, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Harecastle Tunnel, Foxton Inclined Plane, Barton Swing Aqueduct, and the Anderton Boat Lift.


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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson