Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Steam pioneers Boulton & Watt on new £50 note

The partnership of industrialist and entrepreneur Matthew Boulton and Engineer and scientist James Watt was one of the major driving forces of the industrial revolution and today their pictures appear on the back of the new £50 note — the largest and highest denomination note issued by the Bank of England — that goes into circulation today.

Crofton Pumping Station: pic by Bob Naylor©


The Boulton and Watt steam engine at Crofton on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Marlborough is claimed to be the oldest working beam engine in the world still in its original engine house and capable of actually doing the job for which it was installed.

The pumping station was built between 1807 and 1809 to pump water to the summit level of the canal. Initially a second hand engine was installed and in 1810 a Boulton and Watt engine was ordered that was brought into use in 1812.
The original engine was replaced in 1846 by a new engine supplied by Harvey and Co.
The two engines were in regular use until the 1950s when they were replaced with electric pumps because the chimney had become dangerous. 
The engines were restored by members of the Crofton Society and the pumping station was re-opened in 1970 by John Betjeman
The Pumping station is now run by the Crofton Branch of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust and is regularly open to the public — and on high days and holidays the boilers are fired up and the pumps lift water 40 feet up from Wilton Water to the summit level of the canal.

For more information about Crofton go to: www.croftonbeamengines.org

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