Valero Energy Ltd have donated £500 towards a long-term project by the Friends of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park to refurbish the St Brides Pump House, a major historical asset within the Park.
Almost twenty years ago the Friends started a major project, in conjunction with the National Park Authority, to restore the Pump House as a visitor and interpretation centre. Work was completed in 2002 and, since then, the Pump House has been open all year round and is an important reminder of Pembrokeshire’s past, enjoyed by the local community, Coast Path walkers, St Brides Castle guests and other visitors to the area. The Friends have continued to keep the Pump House tidy and the pump equipment was restored to working order in 2008, but the site is now again in need of significant refurbishment.
The Pump House sits just above the beach at St Brides Haven, close to the church, and was built in 1913 as part of a major extension of nearby St Brides Castle to provide it with fresh water. Beneath the Pump House is a 16,000 gallon reservoir, fed by a spring. This water was pumped by a petrol/paraffin-fuelled Tangye engine, located in the Pump House, for over half a mile and from sea level to a height of 185 feet to a second reservoir above the castle which in turn filled a cistern on the castle roof. This system was used until the late 1960’s, including during the period when the castle was used as a hospital. Eventually, the Pump House became redundant and slipped towards dereliction. Ownership passed to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority while the castle itself became a holiday complex.
The Friends and the National Park Authority are now seeking to renovate the building, replace interpretation boards and carry out a further phase of restoration on the historic pump machinery. This work will be a focus for the efforts of the Friends’ volunteers, both their conservation work party and their small team of dedicated engine enthusiasts. However, funds are needed for materials and the grant from Valero, together with recent legacies to the Friends, provide a substantial part of the money needed to allow refurbishment work to proceed.
Steve Drinkwater, Chair of the Friends thanked Valero: “We are very grateful for this generous contribution and the recognition of the work of our volunteers that it affords”. Valero refinery Public Affairs Manager Stephen Thornton, said, “The St Brides Pump House is a wonderful piece of Pembrokeshire heritage, and Valero is very pleased to be able to support the fantastic work by the Friends of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The efforts they have made over 20 years to renovate the Pump House has been tremendous, and through Valero’s community engagement programme we are delighted to see the next stage of this important restoration work take place.”
The Pump House will remain open to the public and the Friends will be running public demonstrations of the historic Tangye engine between 14:00 and 16:00 on Saturday July 21st, Monday August 27th, Saturday September 29th and Saturday October 27th – all welcome. It may also be possible to arrange additional demonstrations for specific groups or events.