Saturday, September 11, 2010

Visitors enjoy free visit to historic K&A Pumping Station

By Bob Naylor

Claverton Pumping Station near Bath opened yesterday for visitors as part of the Heritage Open Days scheme.

Visitors were met at Brassknocker Basin on the Somerset Coal Canal by  Pete Dunn, Mike Rogers and Ian Hereve who escorted them in three groups on the walk along the towpath of the Kennet & Avon Canal to Claverton.  On the way they gave a talk about the history of the canal.

There were 50 visitors who came from all over the UK — and a couple from China.

It is the first time that Claverton has taken part in the scheme and K&A Canal Trust Bath Branch Chairman, Pete Dunn said, "It was a really successful day. We had 12 volunteers on hand to guide people around the pumping station and we will definitely do it again next year, when we hope to use the Trust trip boat 'Jubilee' to ferry people from Dundas to Claverton".

Claverton Pumping Station was built in 1810 to supply water for the canal. At Bath, the Kennet & Avon Canal drops down to the River Avon with a flight of six locks. Each time a boat passes through the flight thousands of gallons of water are lost into the River Avon.

The pumping station can raise 100,000 gallons an hour from the River Avon into the canal 47 feet above using a giant waterwheel driven by the river itself.

The job of maintaining the canal water level is now done by modern electric pumps and the water powered pump is only run on special occasions.  Got to the their website at: for more information.

Heritage Open Days was established in 1994 as England’s contribution to European Heritage Days, in which 49 countries now participate.

The scheme celebrates England’s architecture and culture by allowing visitors free access to interesting properties that are either not usually open, or would normally charge an entrance fee.  Heritage Open Days also includes tours, events and activities that focus on local architecture and culture.

Along the K&A Canal both Claverton Pumping Station and Wilton Windmill took part in the scheme this year. Last year more than 1 million visitors visited a long list that includes follies, contemporary buildings, churches, factories, tunnels, temples, offices, private homes, industrial sites, castles, windmills, town halls - guided walks, concerts, re-enactment, trails, role plays and children’s activities.

For information about the Heritage Open Days Scheme go to:

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