AIM Pilgrim Trust Remedial Conservation Grant – Crofton Beam Engines

Archimedes Screw pump at Crofton Beam Engines

Crofton Beam Engines – AIM Pilgrim Trust Remedial Conservation Grant
AIM grant: £4,000
Conserving an Archimedes Screw pump

When the Kennet and Avon canal was opened in 1809, a pumping station was built at Crofton to keep the summit level of the canal supplied with water from local springs.  It was purchased by the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust in 1968.  Now Grade 1 listed, it is home to a Boulton and Watt engine installed in 1812 – the oldest beam engine in the world still in its original location and still able to perform the task for which it was built.

But Crofton is also home to a different type of pump: an Archimedes Screw pump, operated by hand and used to empty water from sections of the canal during maintenance work.  This was recovered from a part of the canal being restored in Hungerford, Berkshire, in 1973 and was transferred to Crofton Beam Engines in 2010.

At Crofton, the screw is displayed in the open, under a specially constructed shelter.  Although this protects it from the worst of the winter rain, the screw has still been exposed to the elements and been a home for nesting birds and animals.  Over time, the metalwork and woodwork has deteriorated, and it was clear that professional conservation was required.

The conservation work, part funded by an AIM Pilgrim Trust grant was carried out in by Peter Meehan and his team from the Historic Metalwork Conservation Company, and involved thoroughly cleaning the Screw, removing and treating the iron bands, and removing and replacing decayed wood and earlier unsatisfactory repairs.   He also provided advice on future care.

During the work, we held three ‘open day’ events at which Peter talked about the work he was carrying out, and the materials he was using.  This was a good opportunity for volunteers at Crofton, and members of the South West Museum Development team who attended the third event, to see a conservator in action and learn lessons about the conservation of industrial heritage.

Pam Weeks, the volunteer Site Manager, said “With the support of AIM, this rare survivor of the early canal age been conserved for future visitors to Crofton.  What we have learnt will help us as we work towards accreditation of Crofton Beam Engines in 2022.”

Pam Weeks, Crofton Site Manager 

Pictured: Archimedes Screw pump at Crofton Beam Engines