Claverton Pumping Station: Kennet & Avon part 3.

Claverton Pumping StationEvery time a boat transits a lock, a huge volume of water runs downstream.  Canal engineers struggle not only to ensure adequate water to supply the locks, but they also need to compensate for leakage, which turned out to be especially critical in the stretch of canal between Bradford and Batch.  Chief Engineer John Rennie came up with the solution of putting a pumping station at Crofton.

Unlike the steam powered pumping station at the canal’s peak in Claverton, this pump would be powered by the current of the Avon River. Volunteers have completely restored this facility, putting it back into working order.  Just a few miles out of bath, this was the first stop on my weekend cycle tour of the Kennet & Avon.


Claverton’s waterwheel is a type of breast wheel in which the water flows into the side of the wheel, and continues underneath it. Less efficient than a pure overshot wheel, it makes better use of available water power than does an undershot wheel. With its iron frame and wooden paddles, this wheel is 24 feet wide and 17 feet long.

The Pit Wheel on the left (below), a wheel composed of cast iron sections with wooden teeth, is directly connected to the axle of the water wheel.


It drives an iron-toothed gear wheel on the right which is mounted on the same axle as the flywheel and connecting rod.

The connecting rod oscillates a pair of large beams which are connected to a pair of pumps.

In order to keep the pump cylinder rods straight, a clever mechanism called a Watt’s Linkage is used.  This same mechanism was a common feature of 19th century pumping stations, and can also be seen at Crofton and Crossness (photo gallery appearing here soon).  One of the pump cylinder heads is shown below, in a picture taken from below the beam.

Watt Linkage and Pump Head

More photos of Claverton can be seen in my gallery.

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