Westonzoyland Pumping Station
Westonzoyland Pumping Station
An engine house dating to 1830s houses the oldest working steam-powered drainage pump on the Somerset Levels. The museum features steam pumps and stationery steam engines as well as a narrow-gauge railway.
History
In 1830 a mechanical pumping station was built at Westonzoyland to drain the nearby marshland of the Somerset Levels. So successful was the experiment at Westonzoyland that other pumping stations were soon built at other locations around the Levels.

In 1861 a steam engine was installed to drive a new pump. This is the only working steam-driven pump on the Levels still in working order and in its original location. At the same time a small keeper's cottage was erected beside the pumping station. Next to the cottage is a low building housing a steam boiler. The current boiler is a 1914 Lancashire model. Beside the boiler is a forge, where the keeper made many of his own tools to keep the pump running.

The original pump was powered by a beam engine and scoop wheel, which worked well for 25 years, but as the water levels dropped on the Levels, this arrangement proved inefficient. So in 1861 a new pump, built by the London firm of Easton and Amos was erected. This two cylinder engine drives a centrifugal pump, which raised water from the rhyne (drainage channel) and emptied into the River Parrett to be drained away. This system was used until 1951 until a change in river level and a new system of connected water channels made it obsolete.

In 1976 a local charity group bought the station and restored the equipment to working order. In addition, they brought together a collection of pumping equipment from around Somerset, including steam and diesel engines. The oldest dates to the early 19th century, and most have been restored to full working order. The engines are fired up on regular steam days throughout the year.

Aside from the original pumping house, collection of steam engines and associated equimpent, visitors can also see two of the ground floor rooms of the keeper's cottage. The living area is furnished as it might have looked in the 1930s, and the kitchen holds a number of smaller objects in display cases.