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“A real gem with ace cakes” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Crofton Beam Engines

Crofton Beam Engines
Crofton Pumping Station, Crofton, Marlborough SN8 3DW, England
+44 1672 870300
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Ranked #1 of 13 things to do in Marlborough
Certificate of Excellence 2014
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Attraction details
Owner description: Magnificent 200 year old working steam engines still performing their original job! Amazing industrial archaeology in an unspoiled, rural setting overlooking the Kennet & Avon Canal. The engines are "in steam" on eight weekends per year. Please see our web site for dates and more information.
Marlborough, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“A real gem with ace cakes”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 30, 2013

The beam engines are fascinating, even when not in steam, but really worth seeing when they are. In a beautiful setting with wonderful views of the canal, Wilton Water and perfectly proportioned Wiltshire countryside! Easy parking. Combine it with a walk up to the Windmill which gives you even better views and you can do the walk at a comfortable pace in an hour. The cafe at the Beam Engines is the best of its kind - yummy homemade everything, decent coffee, friendly service and a choice of cakes to die for. Best Bakewall Tart we've ever eaten - including in Bakewell! You can visit the cafe without paying the entrance fee for the engines.

Visited March 2013
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47 reviews from our community

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English first
Devizes, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
309 reviews 309 reviews
195 attraction reviews
Reviews in 124 cities Reviews in 124 cities
719 helpful votes 719 helpful votes
“Another engineering marvel of John Rennie”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 14, 2012

The Kennet & Avon canal approaches its summit between Burbage and Crofton.

This presented it's designer and engineer John Rennie with another critical problem: water supply. Initially, he considered tunnelling for 2.5 miles beneath the hills at a height of 410 feet, at the same level as the nearest river, but in those days such an engineering feat would be riddled with problems and uncertainties, as well as being very expensive. The cheaper alternative was to raise the summit level by 40 feet, which would, however, lift the navigation that same amount higher than any reliable local water supply.

Rennie solved this problem with the construction of a pumping station at Crofton in 1807, one mile to the east of the summit at the nearest water source. This station raised the water to slightly higher than the canal summit level, delivering it via a specially built feeder channel called a leat. This ultimately saved around £41,000, a vast amount by any standards in those days.

Into this station was installed a second-hand Boulton and Watt engine, which Rennie purchased from the West India Dock Company in 1802 and was up and running in 1809. Two engines could be accommodated in the house, and in 1810, a second Boulton and Watt was ordered and installed in 1812. Water for the huge boilers was supplied from the springs at Wilton to the well on site. The pumps raised the water 40 feet and discharged it into the "leat" to be delivered to the summit.

By 1836, traffic on the canal had increased and the water supply was no longer adequate so a man-made 8-acre lake was formed by damming the valley opposite the pumping station. The water ran over a weir into the engine pound of the canal and then through the culvert to the well.

As with the rest of the canal, the station fell into disrepair after closure in the early 1900s and in 1968, was purchased by the K&A Canal Trust from British Waterways for £75. An appeal was launched with the objective of restoring the entire station to full working order. In 1970, the Harvey engine from Hayle in Cornwall (which had replaced one of the Boulton and Watt’s in 1846) was successfully fired and now, regular "steam days" are on the itinerary.

Crofton is an essential part of the history of this marvellous waterway.

Visited July 2012
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Bury St. Edmunds, United Kingdom
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“A good visit.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 23, 2012

A delight to visit. The two beam engines are in excellent condition. Plenty of information for the visitor. The pump station buildings are located in grounds above the Kennet and Avon canal. Seating outside to watch the canal.. Cafe area indoors. Car park near to pumping station entrance. An easy car journey, clearly signed, from Marlborough. Good welcome from the people at the place.

Visited August 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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