Bridgwater Pumping Station is actually at Westonzoyland and was the first steam powered pumping station on the Somerset Levels established in 1830 and is now an accredited museum dedicated to steam power and land drainage.
The original buildings, which comprise the engine house, chimney, forge and attendant’s cottage are Grade II* Listed and together with a modern exhibition hall house a fascinating collection of working steam engines and pumps. Many of these are unique and were manufactured or used locally.
It originally had a beam engine driving a huge scoop wheel to lift water into the River Parrett. This caused the whole area of the moors around the station to sink due to the removal of excess water.
The featured exhibit is the 1861 Easton Amos steam powered land drainage machine, recipient of a prestigious Engineering Heritage Award from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. It was fitted with a centrifugal pump, the impeller of which is of a design perfected by John George Appold. This machine will lift 100 tons of water per minute to a height of between 6 and 10 feet (1.8 to 3 metres) depending on the level of the tide. These installations were so successful that other similar pumping stations were erected along the Parrett.
Steam is raised from a 1926 Robey Portable Boiler. On site is also a 2 foot narrow-gauge railway giving passenger rides, and many other unusual items of interest.
The museum is administered by the Westonzoyland Engine Trust, a registered charity and is run by unpaid volunteers, being reliant entirely on entrance fees, subscriptions, sales and occasional donations.
Their Address is Hoopers Lane, Westonzoyland Nr BridgwaterSomerset TA7 0LS and they are normally in steam on Sunday afternoons but they also steam on New Year’s Day from 11.00 am to 4.00 pm – a good way of getting out for some fresh air during the day after the New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Their website is www.wzlet.org where you will find out information about this and their other events.
It claims to have the largest collection of working stationary steam engines, pumps and winches in the South of England. There are over 30 Stationary Steam Engines and Pumps on Display