It's full steam ahead for plans to bring a £1.9 million visitor centre to Claymills Victorian Pumping Station near Burton - following delays over parking problems.

The restored steam museum dating back to 1885, has been a popular tourist destination for more than 20 years. It withdrew its previous application for its Lottery-funded visitor centre as concerns were raised over parking designs which did not link its current car park to the pumping station.

However, this has now been rectified and an application has been resubmitted to East Staffordshire Borough Council, and no plans have changed.

The original drawing did not join the car parking to the pumping station

Ian Yates, a director of the pumping station and lead on the project, explained: "Basically the lines moved. They (the council) were not happy because the lines drawn on the plans (which include the car park) didn’t quite join up.

"There was a gap between the pumping station and the car park. We have used the car park for years as part of a lease with Severn Trent."

The directors also overcame matters arising from the original application, submitted in 2015, which included concerns by Network Rail over an increase in vehicles using the level crossing to access the car park. However, this objection was withdrawn following discussions between the two companies.

The car park has now been joined to the popular attraction

The pumping station is widely run by volunteers at the moment and the visitor centre will provide further opportunities for new voluntary workers.

The proposed new visitor centre project will provide improved facilities for both visiting families and the hard-working volunteers. The project will also include new archive facilities, the restoration of the original engineer's and pay offices, provision of new pathways and the reconstruction of the uneven yard surface.

The new facilities will enable more community groups to use the centre.

It is now full steam ahead for the trust

It was recently awarded a £56,100 grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund which, combined with other funding, will allow the Claymills Pumping Engines Trust (CPET) to draw up firm proposals for the £1.9 million visitor centre.

The development stage is expected to be completed towards the end of 2018 and organisers will then be ready to apply for a second stage grant which, if successful, will enable CPET to build the new visitor centre, which is hoped will be completed in 2020.

The history of the pumping station:

Efforts to restore the 1885 derelict Burton Pumping Station to an operational state, began in 1993 as a community project led by The Claymills Pumping Engines Trust. By 2000 the site had one boiler, one beam engine and the workshop in operation.

When CPET started in 1993 just 12 steam engines remained but over the years engines have been returned, the restoration has continued and there are now three beam engines and a total of 29 steam engines, all original to the site, back in action.

The visitor centre will be able to cope with the growing numbers of tourists

Organisers say visitor numbers have increased to a point where the existing visitor facilities are bursting at the seams. Volunteer activity, which originally started on one day a fortnight, has also now increased to three days a week and the cramped mess room facilities are proving inadequate.

The museum is regarded as a site of national significance as it is the UK's second largest of its kind and the most complete restored Victorian steam pumping station in Britain.

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