Would be handy for Crofton

Published: Thursday, 28 September 2017

HIDDEN at Canary Wharf there is what seems to be a massive power plant, but is something that would be very handy indeed for the ever failing water level on the Kennet & Avon Canal summit pound, Kevin Too reports.

Water pumping station

It is not a power plant but a massive water pumping station that is still in use to control the level of water in Canary Wharf’s docks.

Canary pumpsWhen the docks were first built, there was a problem with silt from the river entering the docks when the lock gates were opened at high tide. Without regular dredging, the docks would have eventually filled up with mud.

 (Sir) John Rennie attempted what is known as an impounding station in 1828 near the Blackwall entrance to the docks, but it really was not satisfactory. The aim was to maintain the water level so when the lock gates were opened, the Thames wouldn’t flow in. Basically, the docks water level was kept higher than the Thames, with a successful impounding station coming into operation in 1930.

Recently restored

It has recently been restored and upgraded with three pumps being the original ones. Although the electric controls are now modern, they’ve retained the old controls in the room as well. Inside the pumps, the original wooden shafts are still in use, being made of a particularly hard wood that’s lasted nearly 100 years of use.

Three pumps are in the building, and at the moment, the bearing for one is currently being repaired, but can't one be transported to Crofton, as they have certainly proved to be more reliable than those that are constantly failing at keeping the summit pound of the Kennet & Avon Canal in water.