On Sunday we walked along to the steam fayre at Crofton Pump House. It was the closing weekend of the summer for the Pumping Station and there was a weekend of activities. We had seen two steam tractors on their way to take part as we travelled from Hungerford to Great Bedwyn on Friday.
As we walked along to Crofton we caught up with Paul on the cabin cruiser. We had travelled with him to Kintbury and knew that he was looking for someone to do the Caen flight with him. He has just started on a two week holiday and will be going down the flight tomorrow. We aren’t available to help him with the descent but have said that, if possible, we will help him work his way back up the flight the following week. We also passed great long gravel trains stationary on the line next to the canal, with teams of workmen. The railway was closed for maintenance but this meant that there was a noisy stationary engine between the pumping station and the canal which did interfere with the enjoyment of some of the activities in the programme.
When we reached the lock in front of the pumping station we caught up with the diesel boat, who we last bought diesel from three years ago. They had turned above Great Bedwyn so we had missed them. They will be travelling to Bath and returning to pass through the Crofton Locks and turn back before the closure at the beginning of November. They will look out for us.
The steam tractors were on the level by the canal. We went on through the tunnel under the railway and found a fairground organ playing a very jazzy repertoire. There was a beer hut and other stalls, and one of the many volunteers was giving a very interesting talk on the history of the canal and the Pumping Station. The steam pumps were working hard doing the job for which they were designed, raising water from Wilton Water to the summit. There was a steady stream of volunteers moving wheel barrels full of coal to power the engines. We spent some time with a group of model boat makers from Swindon, who were showing off their models in a large pool. Some of the models were battery powered but there were also steam powered boats based on the steam launches that we have occasionally seen on the canals.
Instead of the more usual Morris dancers there was a group of clog dancers supported by several musicians. They were followed by a most entertaining man playing the hammered dulcimer. Though it was very enjoyable listening to him play his greatest talent was as a raconteur. No wonder he is in demand performing for groups.
I bought a pump out card from the shop hoping that it is more effective than the last one I bought there, which didn’t work when we were in dire need. A phone call from the pump out at the Dundas Aqueduct elicited the advice that we should change it at the BW office in Gloucester!
Statistics so far:-
3025.26 Miles, 2002 Locks, 190 Swing Bridges, 118 Lift Bridges, 57 Tunnels