The Wiltshire Museum maintains a collection covering the archaeology, art, history and natural history of Wiltshire. This collection covers periods of history from as far back as the Palaeolithic and also includes Neolithic, Bronze Age, Roman, Saxon, Mediaeval and more recent historical artefacts. Among the prehistoric collections are items from the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. Several of the collections have been designated as being a significant part of England’s cultural heritage. One of the most important collections at the museum is the finds from Bush Barrow, an early Bronze Age burial mound in Stonehenge World Heritage Site. The barrow was excavated by William Cunnington in 1808 and produced the richest and most important finds from a Bronze Age grave in the Stonehenge Landscape to date. The finds were acquired by the museum in 1883 and were displayed there until 1922 when they were indefinitely loaned to the British Museum. After a controversial restoration of the largest piece that may not reflect its original finish, the pieces were returned to Devizes in 1985. They are on display in the Gold from the Time of Stonehenge exhibition.
The natural history collection includes remains of a plesiosaur called Bathyspondylus found at Swindon in 1774. Bathyspondylus swindoniensis was first described in 1982 from the Museum's specimens. the Museum occupies two Grade II listed Georgian houses, a Victorian school hall and a modern extension. Assistance dogs only permitted. They have parking for those with special needs in the car park at the rear of the Museum. Wheelchair users are able to see most of the Museum collections via a lift and ramps: The ground floor Includes the Medieval, Roman, Iron Age and the new Prehistoric Wiltshire Galleries. One of the special exhibition galleries and the Museum shop are also on the ground floor, plus a wheelchair accessible toilet. There are some small changes of level at the entrance to the galleries on the ground floor, but portable ramps are available. The First floor is accessible via a platform lift and includes the Lecture Hall, Archive and Library, Art Gallery, Recent History Gallery, Devizes Gallery and Saxon Gallery. The latter galleries are currently being re-displayed and may close at short notice as work progresses. Induction Loop System is provided at Reception and in the Lecture Hall. Large print museum plans and gallery guides are available at reception.
Location : 41 Long St, Devizes, Wiltshire SN10 1NS
Transport: Chippenham (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 1, 2, 49, 55, 77, 87, 210, 271, 877, SB3, TL3, X2, X49 and X72 stop outside.
Opening Times : Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 17:00; Sunday 12:00 to 16:00
Tickets : Adults £5.50; Concessions £4.50; Children Free
Tel: 01380 727369
When the Kennet and Avon Canal was built, no reliable water sources were available to fill the summit by normal gravitational means. However a set of usable springs were found adjacent to the canal route about one mile (2 km) east of the summit pound, and about 40 feet below it. Arrangements were made for these springs to feed the pound below lock 60 at Crofton Locks. Some years later a reservoir (Wilton Water) was created to improve the supply to this pound, and this can now be seen across the canal from the pumping station. Water from below lock 60 was taken by a culvert to the foot of a well sunk from the pumping station, which is built on the hillside more than 40 feet above the canal. The pumps take the water from this well and discharge it into a feeder channel next to the pumping station. The water flows along this channel under the force of gravity until it reaches the summit pound about one mile (1.6 km) to the west. For day-to-day operation, the pumping station now uses electric pumps, automatically controlled by the water level in the summit pound. However the original steam driven pumping equipment has been preserved and is still operational. A single Lancashire boiler provides steam to one or both of two beam engines.
The pumping station was built between 1807 and 1809 in time for the opening of the canal in 1810. The station was built to house two pumping engines, but only one, a 36-inch (914 mm) bore engine bought second-hand from the West India Dock Company, was initially installed. In 1810 a second engine was ordered from Boulton and Watt. This engine, which started work in 1812, is the current number 1 engine, and has been the main engine throughout the steam-driven life of the station. In 1846 the original 1809 engine was replaced by a new engine supplied by Harvey and Co. and built as a double-acting Sims patent combined cylinder engine. However this engine proved troublesome and eventually fell into disuse. In 1903 the 1846 engine was rebuilt as a simple single-acting engine and thus became the current number 2 engine. Both engines then continued in regular use until the 1950s, when the state of the chimney forced the removal of the top 36 feet. The reduced height chimney was unable to provide sufficient draught for the boiler, and it proved cheaper to retire the steam engines and install electric pumps. Crofton recognises that it must provide access to the widest possible range of visitors. However, the need to retain the character of the pumping station and not to interfere with its standing as part of the Industrial Revolution makes contrary demands. Whilst the needs of visitors, with special access requirements, is always considered when undertaking project work and a continuing policy exists to improve access in its own right, a very difficult balance has to be struck. There is only very limited access for wheelchairs. Assistance dogs are welcomed.
Location : Crofton Beam Engines, Crofton, Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8 3DW
Transport: Bedwyn (National Rail) 30 minutes. Bus Routes : No bus service.
Opening Times : Daily (closed Wednesdays) 10:30 to 16:30
Tickets Static: Adults £4.50; Concessionss £4.00; Children Free
Tickets In Steam: Adults £8.00; Concessionss £7.00; Children Free
Tel: 01672 870300