Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Leawood Pump House

The Leawood Pump House is at the end of the Wigwell Aqueduct which carries the Cromford canal over the River Derwent, 30 feet below.

Although the canal itself opened in 1794, the pumping house was not built until 1849, the reason being that the water to supply the canal had originally been taken from Cromford Sough, which was itself fed with water from the local lead mines. However, the mines dug to deeper levels and the water supply dried up. The Company was then forced into building the pumphouse to take water from the River Derwent.

The pumphouse was capable of shifting an enormous amount of water, with a pump rate of 800 gallons (or 4 tons) each stroke, at a speed of three strokes per minute. This amount was required to maintain the water in the canal at a navigable level. Now, the canal is noticably shallow.

The pumphouse is still in working condition and can be viewed on certain weekends each year, when it is brought up to full steam. Usually, these occasions begin around Easter and go through at one a month, plus bank holidays, until a discovery weekend in late October. Viewings are free.

On pump days, the water taken from the Derwent is eventually returned to the river.

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