Heritage Open Days
at Crofton Beam Engines 11,12,13 September
Crofton Beam Engines are pleased to be part of the National Heritage Open Days again this year. From Friday the 11th September to Sunday 13th September all visitors to Crofton can visit for free. The scheme is set up to encourage visitors who might otherwise not visit heritage sites with the opportunity to try them out for free and in doing so learn about our rich history.
Crofton Pumping Station was built in 1807-9 to supply water to the highest point of the Kennet & Avon Canal which links London and Bristol. It is a rare survivor of the technology which enabled British engineers to drain mines and supply towns and cities with water throughout the world, and is currently undergoing Heritage Lottery Fund supported conservation and visitor facility improvement work.
Rebuilt and modernised several times during its long working life, one of the two original engines survives and ran until 1958 despite the canal becoming derelict after WWII, as water was still needed for farm and railway locomotive supply. The survival and subsequent restoration of the canal is one of the triumphs of the Volunteer Preservation movement, spearheaded by the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust. The Trust bought the redundant pumping station for preservation in 1968, at a time when England’s Industrial Heritage was fast disappearing, and by 1971 both engines had been restored to full working order. The 1812 Boulton and Watt engine at Crofton is the oldest fully working steam engine in the world, and still capable of doing its original job. The 1846 Harvey of Hayle Cornish engine is also in full working order, and one of the oldest surviving engines of its type.
For this weekend the site will be open from 10.00am to 3.30pm and our picnic tables and outdoor facilities are there for you to use. The Engine House is open for self-guided tours in time slots to ensure good social distancing. These time slots are 11.30, 12.30, 13.30 and 14.30 and you can request a timeslot as you enter the site. Steaming will not be possible this year but you will still have a great time exploring the site.