Bristol Waterworks Company was formed in 1846 to supply clean spring water from the Mendip Hills to the people of Bristol. As the population grew, more water was needed and in 1888 the company was granted parliamentary approval to build a reservoir at Blagdon by constructing a dam across the River Yeo. Work began in 1891 and took eight years for an army of labourers with horse drawn carts to complete. The pumping station : This imposing Gothic style building was erected to house to house four massive steam our massive steam driven beam engines and the six horizontal boilers needed to power them. Three beam engines and four boilers woul oilers would have been in use at any one time, giving a pumping capacity of 7.5 million gallons of water a day and consuming 8.5 tons of coal daily. In 1949 two of the beam engines were removed and smaller electric pumps took over, but the other two were er two were preserve reserved as museum as museum pieces. One of these is now fitted with an electric motor to show the beam engine in action and remind visitors of the wonderful engineering skills of our forebears.
The beam engines are Woolf compound rotative pumping engines, built and installed between 1900 and 1905. Everything about them is massive; the beam itself is 34 feet long and weighs 17 tons, the flywheel 20 feet in diameter weighing 20 tons. They could generate 170 horsepower and had an output of 2.6 million gallons a day. With two engines running nine workmen were needed to keep the water flowing round the clock: three engine drivers and a day man in the engine room, three stokers and two coal trimmers in the boiler room. The boiler house behind the beam engine hall is now an impressive visitor centre. Historic displays and local artefacts lead into rooms showing the wildlife and nature conservation around the lake, and audio information points give a fascinating insight into this world of water. Visitors can learn about Bristol Water’s treatment and supply systems through electronic displays, and interactive computer models demonstrate the watercycle itself in the H2Ozone area. There are rooms dedicated to water conservation techniques in the home and garden and a special area to show the work of WaterAid in India and Africa.
The lake is well known for trout fishing from its banks and the fleet of 18 rowing boats for hire. The suction tanks which originally supplied water to the steam boilers for the pumping engines are now used as rearing pools for the fish before they are transferred into the lake. On average 50,000 trout are reared at Blagdon each year by Bristol Water to stock this and surrounding lakes such as Chew Valley Lake and the Barrow Tanks. Blagdon Lake is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest of 212.7 hectares (526 acres), created in 1971, largely because of the variety of species and habitats. The area around the pumping station was laid out as an ornamental woodland which includes Scots pine, Cedar, Larch, Spruce, Oak, Beech, Chestnut, Willow, Lime, Holly and Maple. A variety of orchids including green-winged orchid (Anacamptis morio) and southern marsh-orchids can be seen on the borders of the lake. The Visitor centre is wheelchair accessible and has disabled access toilet facilities.
Location : Station Road, Blagdon, North Somerset BS40 7UN
Transport: Worle (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 128, 134, 135, 672 and 683 stop 1 mile away.
Opening Times : Sunday 14:00 - 17:00
Tickets : Free
Tel: 0117 953 6470