Head for the imposing chimney stack of the pumping station rising out of the marshy Somerset Levels and find out how it has been possible to live and farm here for the past 190 years.
The use of steam power on the Somerset Levels to reduce flooding and control drainage of the low-lying moorlands commenced at Westonzoyland in about 1830, when the first of eight pumping stations was built on the banks of the River Parrett. Originally equipped with a beam engine and scoop wheel, this was replaced in 1861 by the now preserved Easton Amos land drainage machine, still in its original engine house, recipient in 2016 of a prestigious Engineering Heritage Award from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. This was capable of raising 100 tons of flood water per minute from 1600 acres (647 hectares) of farmland and discharging it into the adjacent river.
The original buildings, comprising the engine house, cottage, forge and chimney are Grade II* listed and are on the Historic England ‘Heritage at Risk’ register and together with a modern exhibition hall, engine shed and pump room, house what is acknowledged to be the largest collection of working stationary steam engines and pumps in the South of England, totalling 30, many of which have been manufactured locally or have local connections. Two rooms in the Attendant’s Cottage and the scullery are open to view.
Other exhibits of general interest include a small waterwheel; Lister deep well pump; Blacksmith’s forge; Lancashire boiler; 2’ narrow gauge railway giving passenger rides; 1926 Robey Portable Boiler, used for raising steam and a1938 Marshall portable boiler, which is in need of restoration.
The steam powered Easton Amos land drainage machine built in 1861, which was capable of pumping 100 tons of water per minute from the Levels into the River Parrett.
Admission charges apply
Open all year
- Activity trails
- On-site parking
- Disabled parking
- Level access/ramps
The Museum can arrange mid-week visits for schools. Please contact the Museum for more information.
The Museum can assist researchers with enquiries about the site and local history. Please contact the Museum for more information.
- Social history
- 20th century