The Archimedes Screw Fest brings together the threads of Energy, Art, Science and Place in a celebration of connectedness.
The free event, which ran in 2016 and 2017, happens at a unique location on the River Dart. Totnes Weir is home to a year-old twin turbine hydropower plant that generates around 1,350 MWh of clean electricity per year (enough to power around 300 homes for at least 40 years). A new best practice fish pass allows more salmon and sea trout to migrate past the weir and spawn in the Dart catchment and an automatic fish counter monitors the number and sizes of fish using the pass.
The local community has a significant investment in the scheme. Totnes Renewable Energy Society collaborated with Dart Renewables, the owner/developer and Triodos Bank to raise £304,500 of local money through the issue of shares.
The area is now more definitively an important place for public access to the river—the addition of the turbines and fish pass has improved it. The event celebrated this, and the productiveness of local collaboration. In 2017, Archimedes himself made an appearance. Kids made salmon and wove a giant fish net, parents ate freshly-made arancini (Archimedes’ favourite snack), grandparents toured the turbine plant. Westcountry Rivers Trust inspired people to step into an active role as Citizen Scientists to take care of the health and future of the river ecosystem. Totnes Rubbish Walks led a volunteer litter pick along the river walk. Stories and knowledge of the River Dart were shared and visitors co-designed content for a future interpretive sign.