Volunteers steam in to save Crofton’s plans

VOLUNTEERS saved the day when boiler failure threatened Crofton Beam Engines’ steaming programme for the rest of the year.

The failure on August 10 in the right hand fire tube resulted in the cancellation of the steaming of the engines the following day and threatened to bring the rest of this year’s steaming plans to an abrupt end.

Crofton’s heritage engineer John Warren said: “The safety of our historic boiler and engines had to take precedence over the events programme.”

Visitors on the 11th saw volunteer engineering staff removing the still-hot fire bars to get to the problem some 2.5m into the tube. Any repair would have to be both robust and not compromise the integrity of the boiler.

A course of action to support the rear of the fire bars was agreed and over the following three days to allow the boiler to cool further the repair was made.

John Warren praised the work done by the volunteers and said: “It is a great credit to volunteers that we are able to finish our planned steaming schedule for this year.”

Crofton was in steam again over the August Bank Holiday weekend with its Makers and Crafters’ Fair and is preparing for what will be visitors’ final chance to visit the world’s oldest steam beam engine that still works and does its original job.

This event takes place over the weekend of September 28 and 29, 10.30am to 4.30pm.

At more than 200 years old it will be in full steam powered by its huge coal-fired boiler weighing more than 40 tonnes.

There will be activities for younger visitors and it’s a great day out in a beautiful setting with more than 200 years of heritage to explore.

A café, shop, delightful views and a super team will welcome you.

Added to this is Crofton at Night on the Saturday (28).

From 6.30pm to 9pm Crofton’s amazing engines will be steaming into the night with live music by the John Glasscock Jazz Band.

Ticket price for the evening event is £16, which includes entry to the Engine House and a special supper.

Tickets for this special event are separate to the normal Steaming Day admission price that applies to the daytime steaming.

Tickets for the evening event are available online at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/crofton-at-night-tickets-70175200915?

Crofton Beam Engines is situated on the north side of the Kennet & Avon Canal near to its highest point.

It was built to pump water to the highest level of the canal some 13m (40ft) higher and 1.13km (0.7 miles) to the west. It is home to two magnificent steam driven beam engines, one of which can claim to be the oldest in the world still in its original location and doing the job it was installed for in 1812.

Crofton Beam Engines is a Grade 1 listed site. It is also a branch of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust who operate the site through an enthusiastic band of volunteers, all of whom are keen to provide visitors with a memorable experience.