Thanks to generous funding from the HLF, BCCF Environmental and the Fallago Environment Fund, work has now started on the restoration of the Blackadder waterwheel and pump on the site of the Paxton House waterworks – one of the oldest pumped domestic water supplies in Scotland.
JPS Restoration Services submitted the winning tender for the restoration and recommissioning of the historic machinery, and the wheel and pump have now been taken to their workshop on Alloa.
We have been busy on site at Paxton too. First, water from the burn was briefly diverted through the 200 metre long “penstock” pipe to the site of the waterwheel for the first time in over a hundred years. The good news is that the water flowed freely without any obstruction – we even floated a toy duck for a test voyage, and happily it emerged safely at the old waterworks.
Also, visitors will notice that we have reinstated to old access path to the waterworks site through the woodland in Paxton Dene – it can be seen upstream from the bridge on the Paxton House driveway. But please don’t walk to the site yet – it’s a construction site and not yet safe for public access. Restoration of the path has taken 160 tonnes of type 1 gravel, several new surface water drains and a lot of hard work by volunteers including Willie Gray and Ray Guest.
Soon our building contractor, Steve Richards, will start the task of fixing the old stone walls on site and preparing foundations for the waterwheel. It’s going to be a busy summer in Paxton Dene.
Have a look at the fantastic work done to put the new track in to the water wheel site.
The Paxton Trust is set to restore the waterwheel and beam pump of one of Scotland’s oldest domestic water supply systems thanks to grant funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, BCCF Environmental (Scottish Borders Council Landfill Communities Fund monies) and the Fallago Environment Fund. HLF has announced an award of £56,500.
An eighteenth century stone cistern connected to several natural springs in Paxton Dene and the foundations of a waterwheel and machinery to pump that clean water up to Paxton House had been discovered by local volunteers. Only fragments of the original plant were discovered at Paxton, but a very similar wheel and pump were found lying derelict at nearby Blackadder Mount. That led to a plan from heritage engineering consultant Jim Mitchell to recommission the Blackadder machinery on the Paxton site as a working heritage feature.
The Paxton Trust is extremely grateful to the volunteers who are leading this project; to Blair Harrower for the donation of the historic machinery; and to the HLF and other donors for awarding the funds required to complete the job. Work will start soon to restore the site and the machinery, and to create an access path so that visitors will be able to see one of Scotland’s oldest pumped domestic water systems working again. The project will take a year to complete, and the waterwheel will start turning when Paxton House opens for the 2018 season.
Paxton trustee John Home Robertson said “Paxton House is famous for its Adam architecture and its Chippendale furniture, but the people who lived and worked here in 1790 needed clean water, which had to be pumped up the brae from Paxton Dene. It will be great to see a waterwheel driving a beam pump here again, and we are very grateful to the HLF and the other funders for supporting this initiative”.
Paxton House Education Officer Hermione Hoffmann added “We will be working with local schools to record the restoration work during 2017, and we are looking for volunteers to help to maintain and operate the waterwheel and pump for the benefit of our visitors”.
Lucy Casot, Head of HLF Scotland, said “Uncovering where and how our ancestors lived helps communities to understand their own history and identity. Thanks to National Lottery players. HLF is able to support projects such as the restoration of the waterwheel and beam pump at Paxton House, that produce tantalising clues about the past and provide volunteers with new skills”.
Keeps your eyes peeled for future updates about the waterwheel. We will be tracking the progress of the project through our website and social media.
Please take a look at the latest news from Paxton House and upcoming events.