Historic windpump

Close up of windpump on Sedge Fen

Wicken Fen's iconic windpump stands on the edge of Sedge Fen, a reminder of the former peat digging industry which was once widespread in the Fens.

Before the advent of steam and diesel pumping engines, windpumps were the main method used to drain turf pits and fields.

Originally located near Harrison's Drove on the edge of Adventurers' Fen, the windpump was one of six used to drain the turf pits in the later part of the nineteenth century.

With the collapse of the turf digging industry it fell into disrepair, but was rescued from dilapidation, dismantled, extensively restored, and moved to its current location in 1956. Much of the restoration was paid for by Lord Fairhaven, the former owner of nearby Anglesey Abbey, and carried out by local wheelwright, C.J.Ison. 

Restoration of the windpump in 1956
Historic black & white image of windpump cog wheels
Restoration of the windpump in 1956

Instead of draining water from the fen, today the windpump is set up to pump water from a nearby ditch onto Sedge Fen.

We've recently undertaken a major project to conserve the pumps waterwheel. Over the years the wood had deterioted in the wet environment and needed replacing. Experts from Dorothea Restorations removed the wheel and salvaged the original metal work fittings. 

Removing the water wheel for conservation
The wheel being removed from the windpump for conservation.
Removing the water wheel for conservation

A new wheel was constructed, the original metal fittings attached, and then re-installed in the windpump. The project cost approximately £13,000, and will secure the long-term operational future of this iconic windpump.

The new wheel installed in the windpump
Close up picture of new wheel installed in the windpump
The new wheel installed in the windpump

Thanks to our dedicated volunteers, the windpump can often be seen working on selected weekends throughout the summer (subject to their being sufficient wind). Please keep an eye on our website for details.