Merging Two Centuries of Technology at Crofton Pumping Station

A unique project to investigate how modern technology can improve our knowledge of two hundred year old technology has been completed by Bath University Students for Crofton Beam Engines.

Crofton Pumping Station near Marlborough in Wiltshire, which houses the oldest fully working beam engine in the world, still capable of pumping water to the summit of the canal, has linked up with Bath University Mechanical Engineering students to investigate how a ‘mechatronics’ system, using modern remote sensing devices, could help improve our understanding of the working of such important early industrial machines.

Remote measurements and recording of parameters such as temperature, pressure, stresses, vibration etc. could:

a) better inform us to how we care for such engines and if we are doing any damage by continuing to operate the engines at full power

b) provide real time information on hand held or fixed devices, to enhance the visitor experience, for educational purposes and for those unable to access all parts of the 5 storey building

c) provide data for off site analysis by students at all levels to explore in detail how such machines work and perform.

The first phase of the project is now completed with the Bath University students providing:

i) Detailed information on the range of measurements which could be taken and the selection of sensors which would be appropriate, bearing in mind the local conditions and the application to a Grade I structure and engines.

ii) Proposals for the data acquisition, transmission, storage and display of the information.

ii) Proposals for interactive and self powered models to demonstrate the forces and mechanisms used in a water pumping plant.

iv) A prototype installation using a micro computer, demonstrating the use of a remote temperature sensing device and an interactive display.

The Bath University students have provided an excellent start to the concept of marrying two hundred years of technology. The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust will now be considering the reports and investigating how the ideas can be progressed and the possibility of industry sponsorship to take the project to the next level of development.

For further Information please contact:

The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust, Devizes Wharf, Devizes, Wilts SN10 1EB

01380 721279