The use of steam power on the Somerset Levels to reduce flooding and control drainage of the low lying moorlands commenced at Westonzoyland in about 1830, when the first pumping station was built on the banks of the River Parrett, equipped with a beam engine and scoop wheel. This was eventually replaced by the now preserved 1861 Easton Amos land drainage machine, which is still in its original engine house.
Run entirely by volunteers, the Museum was established more than 30 years ago, when the Westonzoyland Engine Trust, a registered ‘not for profit’ charity, was set up “to advance the education of the public regarding steam power and land drainage”.
The original buildings, which comprise the engine house, cottage, forge and chimney are Grade II* listed and are on the English Heritage ‘at risk’ register. Together with our modern exhibition hall, engine shed and pump room these house what is acknowledged to be the largest collection of working stationary steam engines and pumps in the South of England (about 27), many of which have been manufactured locally or have local connections. Two rooms in the Attendant’s Cottage are open to view.
Other exhibits of general interest include a small waterwheel; deep well pump; Lister Start-o-matic; blacksmith’s forge; Lancashire boiler and 2’ narrow gauge railway, used to transport cut timber to our 1938 Marshall portable boiler for raising steam, this originally used as a standby steam generator by the Metropolitan Water Board in London during the Blitz. Two locomotives are in use, a 1949 Lister Railtruck (No.34758), supplied new to the Eclipse Peat Co Ltd, Ashcott, Somerset and a 1968 type 40S 310 Simplex Motor Rail (Engine No. WE88752), used by Severn Trent Water Authority at Minworth Sewage Treatment Works, Sutton Coldfield.
The Museum is about 4 miles to the south east of Bridgwater and is signposted from Westonzoyland Village. It is open every Sunday throughout the year from 1.00 pm to 5.00 pm. Steam powered demonstrations of the land drainage machine and other working exhibits are given on the first Sunday of each month from April to November, and all Bank Holidays including New Year’s Day (except Christmas & Boxing Days). Tea room, picnic area and free parking. Mainly level access but there are some steps, which do not restrict viewing.
The museum is run by unpaid volunteers, and is reliant on entrance fees,
subscriptions and occasional donations. For more information please look at our website www.wzlet.org