United Kingdom Stretham Old Engine

3 images 2 contributors

Andrew Sharpe

About this spot
Stretham Old Engine is a steam-powered engine just south of Stretham in Cambridgeshire, England, that was used to pump water from flood-affected areas of The Fens back into the River Great Ouse. It is one of only three surviving drainage engines in East Anglia, and is a Grade II* listed building. The steam engine on the Old West River (Great Ouse) just south of Stretham was built by the Derbyshire firm, Butterleys, in 1831, costing £4950. It replaced four nearby windmills and its scoop wheel was used successfully for over a century to lift water from flood channels back into the river. Powered by coal that was brought by barge, it consumed a ton of fuel every four hours. In 1924, the installation of a Mirrlees diesel engine saw the steam engine relegated to 'standby', and the last serious use was during the floods of 1939 and 1940. Prickwillow Museum contains a nearly identical Mirrlees Diesel engine that has been preserved and restored to working order. The pumping station was later replaced with 5 smaller, more efficient, electrical pumps that drain into the River Great Ouse and are still in use.

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