Cunning plan hatched for Paxton waterwheel

The Paxton Trust is set to restore the waterwheel and beam pump of a historic domestic water supply system after receiving a grant of more than £50,000.

Thursday, 12th January 2017, 07:52 am
Paxton House Water Works Proposal

It has received £56,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and additional support from BCCF Environmental (Scottish Borders Council Landfill Communities Fund monies) and the Fallago Environment Fund.

An 18th-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.

Paxton House

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.

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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.

Paxton House

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.”