Case study: Blagdon Beam Engine

We carry out annual maintenance and cleaning of the heritage Beam Engine at Blagdon pumping station.

The engine is now powered by an electric motor driving the flywheel which we installed over 15 years ago.  The driving motor is connected through a powder coupling to a gear box which then drives a cog, meshing into existing slots on the flywheel.

Blagdon Waterworks and Beam Engines

As the population of Bristol grew in the late 1800’s Bristol Waterworks Company got parliamentary permission to construct a dam over the River Yeo and reservoir with pumping station at Blagdon, located in the Mendip Hills.  It took 8 years for the pumping station to be built with completion in 1900.

A huge engineering project, the dam extends more than 50 metres below ground level onto the rock at the bottom of the valley by means of a 24inch diameter pipe. On completion of the dam in 1899, filling the reservoir to full supply took 4 years amounting to 1,860 million gallons of water. To this day, Blagdon Lake still provides a supply of drinking water, but also specialises in trout rearing and fishing. 

Built and installed circa 1900 – 1905, the four beam engines that originally powered the waterworks were Woolf made compound rotative pumping machines. Each of the engines had a beam 34 feet long and weighed in at 17 tons with the ability to generate 170hp and an output of over 2million gallons per day.

Each beam engine had two of its own boilers guzzling through 2.8 tons of coal per day. At the time, just to run two beam engines required 9 workers 24/7 to keep water flowing. The pumping station the beam engines are housed in, is a Grade II listed gothic style building.

All four beam engines continued to serve Bristol City until 1949 when two were placed with electric pumps. 


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