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Technical | Steam-plant  >  Water Supply

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The water supply for the boilers was pumped up from the River Meden in the valley about a half mile to the south. The original pump-house was situated near to the site of the annual horse-fair close to where a spring issued at a point where the junction between the Magnesian Limestone aquifer and the impermeable Lower Permian Marl rock outcrops.   This pump was driven by a steam engine.

1890 6in OS map detail showing the location of the original Horse Fair pump house

1890 6in OS map detail showing the location of the original Horse Fair pump house (JST)

The muddy river water required filtering to remove fine suspended sediment before use in the boilers.  This was done using two “Torrent” filters manufactured by the Pulsometer Engineering Company. These were capable of filtering 4,500 galls / hour using sponge or granular material. The apparatus included a machine for blowing air and water through the filtering material to carry of the sediment, which was done after every 10 hours work and took about 10 minutes. This was located at the colliery near the reservoirs on the South pit-top.

By 1900, the pump-house had been demolished and another one with electrically driven pumps was constructed nearer to the river.  This pump house remained in operation until closure.

After passing through the Magnesian Limestone aquifer, the local ground water in this area is quite hard due to the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium sulphates.  Just as with a kettle, when the water is heated, the sulphates are precipitated onto the surfaces of the container and, over time, will build up a considerable thickness.  This material, coating the inside of the boiler-plates, has a low thermal conductivity and will act as a barrier between the fire and the water. The boiler will then  require greater amounts of fuel to produce the same amount of steam and there will be a danger that the boiler-plates will become burnt.  In order to minimise this after the installation of higher  pressure boilers in the early 1900s, the water was treated chemically to reduce the hardness.

After treatement, the water was then held ready for use in the water reservoirs / cooling-ponds which serviced the steam condensers for the  various turbine-generators.  From there it was filtered to remove lubricating oil  from the engines and turbines and pumped into a large receiver tank in the boiler house where it was pre-heated ready for injection into the boilers. 

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