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Australian Psyche Bend Pump Station receives engineering award

18 June 2018

The 1891 system which supplied irrigation water receives the accolade from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

The triple expansion steam engine and centrifugal pumps designed by George Chaffey and built by Tangyes of Birmingham, England have been presented with an Engineering Heritage Award by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers at a ceremony in Mildura, Australia. 

The station is being recognised for its role in supplying irrigation water for Mildura’s irrigation settlement from 1890 until 1959, when electric pumps were installed nearby and the pumping station was decommissioned. 

The Chaffey brothers arrived in Melbourne in 1886 after they had already had success with irrigation colonies in California. They chose Mildura as a site for an irrigation development on account of its proximity to two major rivers and hospitable environment. 

Tangyes, who manufactured the equipment, at first refused to build the engine and then only manufactured it on the proviso that the name plate: “Chaffey's improved Pumping Engine made by Tangyes for Mildura Irrigation Colony” was fixed to the engine. This was in case the engine failed and they were deemed liable for the failure.

The Psyche Bend Pump Station is the 119th recipient of the award.

Previous winners of Engineering Heritage Awards include Alan Turing’s Bombe at Bletchley Park, the E-Type Jaguar and Concorde supersonic airliner. Other Australian winners include the Boulton & Watt steam engine, preserved at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, which was built in 1785 and is one of the first rotative steam engines ever built, and the BT19 Racing Car which was used by Australian driver Jack Brabham to win his third World Championship in 1966. 

John Wood, Chair of the Engineering Heritage Committee and Past President, said:
“The Psyche Bend Pumping Station building is one of the oldest pump configurations of its type in the world and is described as being internationally significant on the Victorian Heritage Register. This award recognises both the importance of the engineering and the efforts of the Committee of Management of the Psyche Bend Pumping Station who decided to repair the historic engine and pumps, and the individuals who undertook the restoration, who were mainly members of the Sunraysia Steam Preservation Society.”

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