Crofton Beam Engines
On May bank holiday Monday we were invited to visit in Wiltshire during the Steam weekend. My husband Mike was particularly excited about this as although we had visited a few years ago, he had never seen it ‘in steam’ and working before. Hayden loves engines so thought he would enjoy it too.In fact it ended becoming a bit of a family affair, with Hayden’s grandparents, great grandparents and Auntie, Uncle and Cousin Oscar coming along too!
Although as I said I had been before several years ago I couldn’t really remember it. Crofton Beam Engines are two of the oldest working steam engines.They were built to pump fresh water to the highest part of the Kennet & Avon Canal.
Set amidst stunning Wiltshire countryside, Crofton Beam Engine overlooks a canal and railway and is situated in a beautiful setting.
On arrival there is plenty of car parking available in a field opposite the site.
The Engine House
Not surprisingly the Engine house itself is not pram friendly but there was space to leave our prams by the entrance whilst we looked round. I carried Austin in the baby carrier whilst Mike wrangled Hayden.
Be warned its very warm inside, so if you have coats/jumpers on I would recommend you take them off before you look around the engine house.
The first thing I noticed on walking in was the huge red boiler where coal was being shovelled in, followed quickly by several little steam machines. Most the boys loved looking at these!
Although not obviously a place for children, Hayden and Oscar both really enjoyed looking around and seeing all the giant moving parts to the engines. All the men in our group, who all find engineering interesting found it to be impressive and really appreciated the history and mechanics of the engines. Mikes great granddad (also called Hayden) spent a good length of time discussing the details with one of the engines Volunteers. All of the staff at Crofton were very friendly, knowledgeable and more than happy to chat about Crofton.
Time for Cake!
After having a good look round the site and Engines we decided to have a rest in the cafe with some tea and Cake which as I have said before is always an important part of any day out for me! The Cafe was quite small but nice, there are more tables outside and if the weather had been nicer we would have definitely sat outside where the toddlers could run around and watch the trains whizzing past on the railway! They had a good selection of cakes, I enjoyed a delicious chocolate cake! very moist and chocolaty! They were also serving local ales in their pop up pub. My only negative for the cafe is that they only had 1 high chair and we had 2 toddlers between us.
After refreshments the rain was holding off so we spent some time outside enjoying the views, and letting the boys burn off some energy running around and watching the trains.
My suggestions for improvements to make it more amenable to young children would be a few more highchairs in the cafe (the ikea ones stack so don’t take up any more space than one) and some sort of pull down baby change in the toilets.
We had a lovely family day out and all ages enjoyed it! Hayden was fascinated, his favourite part as the well (accessible through the cafe). He Really enjoyed watching the steam, and running around outside and of course getting to see some trains!
I’m sure we will be back to visit again when Hayden and Austin are a bit older and Mike can tell them all about how it all works etc!
I would say that if you or anyone in your family love seeing how things work or interested in industrial history/engineering then its a must see. I definitely also recommend going when it’s in full ‘steam’ as it were.
For more information about Crofton Beam Engine you can visit www.visitwiltshire.co.uk