Page last updated at 16:29 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Vacuum collects tower well cash

Clifford's Tower
The well is narrow and deep making it difficult for abseilers

About 1,500-worth of coins dropped by visitors at an ancient well have been collected by a huge vacuum pump.

Hundreds of visitors are thought to put money down the the 50ft (15.24m) well at Clifford's Tower in York every year as they make a wish.

On Wednesday, a huge vacuum pump was used to clear the drains. The coins were then jetwashed before being counted by English Heritage.

In May 2006 a team of abseilers was hired to scoop up the coins.

Claire Hogan, the tower's operations manager, said: "We last emptied the well in May 2006, although it took us nearly two years to clean, sort and count the 1,000-worth of small change in there that had accumulated over 10 years, so we have made a conscious decision to empty the well more often.

"We tried to think of different ways of making the job easier, including putting a net at the bottom of the well that we could hoist up, and indeed, one of the wildest ideas was to somehow suck the coins up in a giant vacuum clear."

The device used is a new design by Huddersfield company Eurovac, who offered to collect the coins so they could test out the machine.

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