Ram Pump Restoration

Blake’s Hydram


The Blake’s Compound Hydram installed at Burton Mill would have been used to pump spring water to properties further up the nearby hill. It is known that this pump was in use in 1925 when a second pump was installed in an adjacent chamber. Blake’s began producing this type of pump in the 1860s and similar pumps are still in production.
Hydraulic Ram Pumps convert a large low-pressure volume of water to a small high-pressure volume. Our pump is unusual in that it incorporates a piston to separate the pond water power source from the pumped spring water (‘B Type’ in this advertisement).


The pump before restoration. An iron-rich sludge had built up around the pump.
It is fitted in a closed underground chamber with the now blocked water outlet pipe passing under the tail race to an unknown location. A permanently damp atmosphere encouraged corrosion.


Restoration work began in April 2020 with the pump being lifted from the underground chamber.


The first challenge was to remove the seized piston. An extreme amount of force finally shifted it.


Pump fully dismantled. Only one bolt had to be drilled out and a couple of pipe connections required cutting away but all other parts are reusable. The cast iron casings will be blast cleaned and painted.


Water to power the ram pump comes from the mill pond via this (seized) 5″ gate valve. The water then passes through two settling tanks to remove any large objects which would otherwise block the pump.
The 90 degree bend had been removed many years ago and left in the mill. Oddly, it doesn’t actually fit so how it connected is a mystery.


Restored gate valve opened for the first time.


The central bore in the casing was almost closed with corrosion which would have restricted performance. After a visit to Sussex Blast Cleaning (Hailsham) the bore was cleared completely and all parts coated in pure zinc.


September 2020. Restored pump back in the cleaned chamber. A new outlet should stop the build-up of sludge.