Dedicated to sound recording in the field
Ryhope Pumping Station
Ryhope is a village in Durham, a couple of miles south of Sunderland.
The pumping station was built between 1867 and 1870 by the Sunderland and
South Shields Water Company to extract fresh water from an underground aquifer.
The pumping station houses two double-acting, compound, rotative beam engines,
built by R&W Hawthorn of Newcastle. When built, steam for the engines was
delivered from six Cornish boilers. These were replaced by four Lancashire
boilers in 1908.
The pumping station continued in use until 1st July 1967.
The pumping station is now cared for by the
Ryhope Engines Trust. The engines are
steamed regularly, usually over bank holiday weekends.
The engines were in operation in April 2009, when these sound and video clips
This is the sound that meets the visitor
entering at the front door. The engines are
directly ahead to left and right with the beams rocking up and down overhead.
Steam to the cylinders of each engine is controlled by valves. These have
hand starting levers which
clack up and down with a distinctive sound.
Stairs connect the ground floor to the upper beam level. From the landing
halfway up there is a good view of the
upper parts of the steam cylinders and the Watts linkages to the beams
themselves. This also a good spot to soak in the
overall atmosphere of the engine house
as a whole.
The beam level is especially impressive, allowing close access to the 22 ton
beams rocking up and down at 10 strokes per
minute. The sound at the upper
level is dominated by echoes of the valve gear from the floor below, against
a background of low frequency rumble from the engines.
The main bearing of each beam is grease
lubricated. Close up, the quiet creaking sound of
grease being slowly extruded can be
heard, aginst the overall background ambience.
At the centre of the beam there is a brass stroke
counter which records the overall activity of each engine,
ticking away as it does so.
The 'business end' of each machine is the pump, which driven by the
output shaft via a crank and flywheel.
Back to Home