We didn’t come to Burton-on-Trent for sight-seeing, but since we’re here we decided to do some anyway. The town is more famous for beer and brewing than anything else, but we have resisted the two museums dedicated to these so far. Instead, today we went to visit the Claymills Victorian Pumping Station in Stretton.
The website said there were guided tours on Thursdays and Sundays, so we aimed to arrive in time for the morning tour. When we arrived it seemed that there were no tours. A very friendly volunteer welcomed us and invited us to explore. He said that if we had questions we should just ask anyone.
The main attraction is the enormous twin pump houses each with a pair of massive steam pumps. These were part of the brewing heritage. They were needed because the volume of waste from the brewing industry was overwhelming the existing sewage system. So these enormous pumps were used to spread sewage (including brewing waste) on to the fields of the sewage farm.
As so often with Victorian engineering, it is hard to comprehend the size. What might seem a reasonable thing to make out of metal on a small scale seems preposterous when scaled up. We were able to go up to all the floors of the engine houses.
Around the site, there are many more steam engines that were used for various different tasks throughout its history. If we are ever nearby on one of their “steaming days”, I’ll be keen to get along to see these magnificent machines in motion.