Situated near Great Bedwin on the Kennet and Avon Canal is Crofton Pumping Station. Brick-built, it is a four-storey Georgian engine house.
Restored and reopened in 1970, it houses two early Cornish beam pumping engines, one an 1812 Boulton & Watt and an 1845 Harvey of Hayle. These have both been restored and the former is said to be the oldest working beam engine in the world still in its original building. Their original purpose was to raise water to the summit of the canal and still do when in steam, which is six weekends a year between Easter and the end of September.
The station is run by volunteers of the Crofton branch of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust.
Open Easter to end of September, Saturdays, Sundays and bank holiday Mondays.
Crofton Pumping Station
Two workable Cornish beam engines, the oldest by Boulton & Watt 1812 is the oldest steam engine capable of doing its full duty in the world.
Crofton Pumping Station - beam gallery
The two beam engines, the one to the left is the oldest working/in situ engine in the world. However the beam has been replaced since 1812 as it was originally wooden.
Kennet & Avon Canal, Crofton
The buildings in the distance house the Beam pumping engines that used to keep the canal fed with water. They have been preserved and are operated several times a year for visitors. The smoke shows the boilers are being stoked up for a day's work!