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The Kennet and Avon Canal Trust (Crofton Beam Engines)

The Kennet and Avon Canal Trust (Crofton Beam Engines)

The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust is the charity that saved the Kennet & Avon Canal which runs from Bristol to Reading.

Now we work to promote the canal to the benefit of all its users, the communities through which it passes, and its heritage. Crofton Pumping Station was completed in 1809 to supply water to the highest point of the canal.  The station is a rare survivor of the technology employed by British engineers to drain mines and supply towns and cities with water all over the world.  We have recently undergone National Lottery Heritage Fund supported conservation and visitor facility improvement work. Crofton stayed in steam until 1958 despite the canal becoming derelict after WWII.  Water was still needed for farm and railway locomotive supply.  Our 1812 Boulton & Watt steam powered beam engine is the oldest working beam engine in the world that is still in its original location and capable of performing the task for which it was installed.  Steam was raised for the first time under preservation in April 1970, when the 1812 engine moved for the first time in 12 years. 

The station was formally opened to the public in August 1970.  During 1970/71 the 1846 Harvey engine was overhauled and successfully steamed.  From then on, both engines have been regularly steamed and open to the public through the summer months. Crofton Beam Engines is volunteer led, at the time of writing there is a single paid member of staff employed by the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust. As for so many heritage venues, COVID has limited opening and threatened income, but the resilience of our volunteers has kept the pumping station open, and the 1812 engine in steam at least once a month since May 2021.  Boiler repairs are in hand to ensure future operations, and our team is rising to the challenge to keep the sights and sounds of the age of steam for all to see at Crofton.