Articles & Case Studies


Posted: Tuesday 28th April 2009

Eurovac’s new EcoVac unit could not have had a more prestigious venue for its first public demonstration: sucking all the coins out of the bottom of the well at the iconic Clifford’s Tower monument in York.

The well was last emptied in 2006, when a total of about £1000 in coins was retrieved. The job took a while though, as it entailed an abseiler manually retrieving the coins with a bucket – and then English Heritage staff had to scrub the coins to separate and clean them!

An estimated distance of 61 metres from vehicle to base of well was an excellent proving test for the new EcoVac, and the event was attended by the local TV and radio stations, as well as the local paper. According to one onlooker, the coins sounded ‘like a Las Vegas slot machine’ as they spun round in the EcoVac, being cleaned as well as efficiently collected.

The EcoVac’s unique system provided added suction power; in this case, the vehicle was situated 24 metres below the level of the well, which in itself was 8 metres deep, with 48 metres of hose going up the steep incline to the tower. Conventional vacuum machines would not have had the power to draw the coins out.

As Eurovac engineering director Craig Nicholl confirmed, they had to take great care with this first demonstration: “English Heritage maintain Clifford’s Tower, and were obviously keen no damage was caused. Previously, they used abseilers to descend into the well to retrieve the coins, but this is a long and quite dangerous process involving confined spaces. The suction method on our new combination unit retrieved the coins within just a few minutes – and we cleaned them, too!”

The massive length of hose required for the task came all the way from Shropshire-based SP Holding, a specialist operator with a number of Eurovac vehicles. Managing director Steve Holding is already planning to order a new EcoVac, and to show it at the Drain Trader exhibition in September.

“We last emptied the well in May 2006, although it took nearly two years to clean, sort and count the £1000-worth of small change that had accumulated over 10 years, so we made a conscious decision to empty the well more often,” said visitor operations manager for Clifford’s Tower, Claire Hogan. “We tried to think of different ways to make the job easier, including putting a net at the bottom of the well that we could hoist up, and one of the wilder ideas was to somehow suck the coins up in a giant vacuum cleaner. When we heard Eurovac effectively had a giant vacuum cleaner they wanted to test, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss!”

The coins were retrieved early in the morning on 18 February, before the site opened to visitors. It did look rather crowded at the base of the tower at one point, with the EcoVac, its support vehicle from Eurovac, plus a radio car doing a live broadcast as the coins were vacuumed up.

Once counted by English Heritage staff, the coins all go towards maintaining Clifford’s Tower, which is visited by thousands of people every year. Although only one bag has been counted so far, it looks as though the site is on track for a record amount of coins, with very few rejects due to the efficient cleaning job achieved.

The Eco Vac is now available for demonstrations; contact commercial director Michael Atkinson at Eurovac for more details, on 01484 689055, or email

Read the magazine online

July 2021

About the magazine »
Magazine archive »


Information for advertisers »

Pulsar New Banner
British Water buttonwood marketing Cranfield University Water Aid Huber Harvey Communications Pulsar Button June 13 wateractive