To supply water to the Limpley Stoke valley length of the Kennet and Avon Canal, John Rennie built a waterwheel powered Pumping,Station at Claverton, 3 miles from Bath. Completed in 1813 the pumping station operated continuously until 1952. For 15 years this remarkable piece of Engineering Heritage lay derelict. In the late 60's and early 70's a dedicated group of volunteers from the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust restored the waterwheel, beam engines and pumps to full working order. Re-opened in 1978 the Claverton Group continue to maintain and operate the Pumping Station.
In 2009 The Pumping Station returned to the support of British Waterways, now the Canal and River Trust. The same volunteer group remain at the site, still maintaining, restoring when required, and running the engine.
The waterwheel and pumping machinery are housed in a Pump House built of Bath Stone, set on the river Avon at Warleigh Weir, a beautiful setting in the unspoilt Limpley Stoke valley. At this point the canal is cut into the valley side 48 ft. above the river.
Inside the Pump House, and in complete contrast to the tranquillity out side, all is power and motion. The power is generated by the massive waterwheel, 24 ft. wide and 17 ft. in diameter. When the sluices are opened and 2 tons of water each second flow onto the 48 wooden slats the wheel turns a full revolution every 12 seconds.
Through a wall and via a large coupling the waterwheel directly drives the "Pit Wheel". This is a Cast Iron frame with 204 wooden gear teeth. At 16 ft. in diameter this wheel runs partly in a pit cut into the floor. Engaged with the Pit Wheel is a Cast Iron gear of 64 teeth, incr easing the rotation to 16 rpm. On the same shaft are mounted the 16 ft. diameter flywheel and two cranks. Each crank drives a vertical connecting rod powering the "rocking" beams of the Beam Engines overhead.
At the driven end of each 18 ft. long Cast Iron Beam, is a Watt parallel linkage. These provide a vertical motion to the pump piston rods, which drive down into the 18 inch diameter bores of the two lift pumps. The pumps take their water supply from the river outside, via valves with rope seals and wooden seats, each stroke of each pump lifts 50 gallons of water to the canal above with the large green pressure vessel smoothing out the pressure surges. The whole machine delivers 98,500 gallons an hour.
The Claverton Pump Group welcomes all volunteers, to continue preserving and operating this wonderful piece of Canal engineering, and to receive the visiting public. The technically minded have an opportunity to get down to real engineering during the winter maintenance months, and everyone can find a job to suit their interests. In the summer we additionally welcome those who enjoy meeting and helping our visitors and assisting in the shop.