£1million pumping station refurbishment will protect thousands over the next generation

The refurbished pumps

The refurbished pumps - Credit: Archant

A ground-breaking pumping station which will keep thousands of homes dry for the next generation was officially opened near Stretham on Friday.

Almost £1million has been invested in refurbishing the Cam Pumping Station, located between Stretham and Wicken and part of the Waterbeach Level Internal Drainage Board.

A ceremony was held on Friday to mark the re-opening and was carried out by John Martin, former chairman of the Land Drainage Committee.

The pumping station is home to a set of new electric pumps which are ‘fish friendly’ and the first of their kind in the country.

A spokesman for the board said: “We are commissioning two direct drive axial flow pumps, each capable of pumping 1.15 cubic metres of water per second. These pumps are fish friendly and are the first of their kind to be installed in the UK.

“These, together with a reinforced sump, pipe works to outfall chamber and automatic weedscreen cleaner, cost around £1 million, which has been grant aid funded by 45 per cent.”

The Waterbeach Level Internal Drainage Board was constituted by Act of Parliament in 1741 and kept the fens drained by wind power until 1831, when the first steam engines arrived.

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The first steam engine pump to be used was built by the Derbyshire firm Butterleys and cost a princely £4,950.