ISSES 1997 Bulletin 1

Edited by Chris Allen
 

Ribblesdale Park, Ascot

Gloucester Docks, Gloucester

Bolton Steam Museum, Mornington Road, Bolton (SD700099)

Williamsons, 8/18 Brook Street, Mumps Bridge, Oldham

Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre, Rochdale

Centre for the Conservation of the Built Environment, Bursledon Brickworks, Coal Park Lane, Swanwick (SU500098)

Planned Maintenance (Pennine) Ltd, Vine Grove Works, Commerce Street, Haslingden

Abbey Pumping Station, Corporation Road, Leicester (SK589067)

Sandfields Pumping Station, Lichfield

Alder Mill Nurseries, Pinwall, near Atherstone (SP307993)

Birmingham Museum of Science and Industry, Newhall Street, Birmingham

Elliott Colliery, New Tredegar (S0147027)

 
BERKSHIRE

Ribblesdale Park, Ascot

In IB 18.1, pp2-3, we reported on the private collection of Mr Richmond-Dodd. At that time, his Pollit & Wigzell tandem compound was only part erected but he was hoping to be able to complete the erection in 1996. We can now report that the engine is now a runner and ISSES member Chris Evans has seen the videotaped evidence.
As before, we must stress that this is a private collection and visits are strictly by arrangement.

 

(Chris Evans)
 

GLOUCESTERSHIRE
 

Gloucester Docks, Gloucester

A visit to these docks in February 1997 revealed a restored steam crane that has been made a focal point of one of the restored quays. This is a rail-mounted self propelled steam crane with power provided by vertical duplex cylinders and steam from a vertical boiler. The crane was built in 1944 by Joseph Booth & Bros, Rodley, Leeds to works No. 4973. The maximum capacity was 7½ tons at a 16' radius. It is nicely restored but static and can be seen freely at any time.
(Chris Hodrien)

 

GREATER MANCHESTER
 

Bolton Steam Museum, Mornington Road, Bolton (SD700099)

My last report on this site was in IB 17.4, pp13-14. The Northern Mill Engine Society have paid excellent progress on two major restoration programmes in the last 12 months and 1997 should see all their large engines re-erected.
The inverted vertical compound engine from Diamond Rope Works has got most of the major components together. These consist of bed, crankshaft, two part flywheel, columns, entablature and cylinder. The entablature was fractured during removal and required metal stitching, the join is scarcely visible. Work is now commencing on the motion work. This latter includes a spectacularly bent rod that will need "stretching" - millwright terminology for the process of straightening bent rods.

The Cellarsclough McNaughted beam engine is now about to enter an exciting phase of its restoration. The lower works, including valve gear and governor are now complete and a beam chamber has been constructed. This consists of the original cast iron work supported on two sides by the museum's walls and on two sides by an RSJ framework. The next stage is to use a very large "A" frame and the Society's brand new 10 ton blocks to lift the beam into place. This item weighs around five tons and was far too heavy for the building's existing craneage.

Thus, the first phase of the works will come to an end. The second phase requires very serious money and will convert the site into an habitable, working steam museum. It is to be hoped that the NMES will be successful in this as 30 years of gruelling work and multiple setbacks should be justly rewarded.
 

(Chris Allen)
 
 
 

Williamsons, 8/18 Brook Street, Mumps Bridge, Oldham

In IB 18.4, p15 we reported that this firm had an inverted vertical single cylinder (enclosed) engine lying in a corner of their yard. We have now had a reply from Mr David Williamson, one of the proprietors and are now able to provide more information.
The engine is Ashworth & Parker No. 351, built in 1912 and supplied to Messrs Astbury & Pickford of Delph who were textile manufacturers. The cost in 1912 was £153. The single cylinder is 14" bore by 6" stroke and the engine developed 50 hp at 400 rpm on steam at 70/90 psi. The engine exhausted against 5/12 psi back-pressure.

The engine is not available but Mr Williamson "would welcome any suggestion you might have wherein one of your members, preferably in our locality, could possibly undertake the restoration of this". Are there any takers?

Williamsons have a large stock of items that are of potential use to anyone involved in steam restoration and catalogues are freely available from the above address.

(Williamsons, Oldham)
 
 

Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre, Rochdale

In IB 16.2, p5 we reported that this covered shopping centre possessed a small horizontal single cylinder engine coupled to a well pump and displayed behind a glass screen. The centre's owners have decided that the space can be better utilised and the engine is no longer on display. I would be grateful if anyone can tell me what has become of it.

 

(John Phillp, Northern Mill Engine Society
 
 

HAMPSHIRE
 

Centre for the Conservation of the Built Environment, Bursledon Brickworks, Coal Park Lane, Swanwick (SU500098)

We can now report that the first public steaming of the John Wood horizontal single cylinder engine is now scheduled for Sunday September 14, 1997. The restoration of this site has taken several years and the first steaming should be a notable milestone in this development. It is to be hoped that some ISSES representatives will be present on this occasion.
(Friends of Bursledon Brickworks)

 
 

LANCASHIRE
 

Planned Maintenance (Pennine) Ltd, Vine Grove Works, Commerce Street, Haslingden

ENGINE AVAILABLE FOR PRESERVATION

In SB 9.4, p2, we reported that Mr Jack Taylor of the above firm had acquired the c1885 W & J Yates horizontal cross compound engine from Abbey Mill, Billington, Whalley.

The engine has lain dismantled in secure storage for the last ten years and Mr Taylor has now realised that he is unlikely to be able to reassemble it. Therefore, any persons interested in acquiring a fine example of a mill engine should contact Mr Taylor on 01706 831522 (work) or 01282 427284 (home).

The engine is of interest as it is a gear drive engine and is fitted with cross cut-off gear on the HP slide valve. This gear necessitates two governors on the same vertical spindle. One acts as an overspeed throttle governor, the other acts to change the point of cut-off by use of a set of friction cone pulleys to lengthen or shorten a threaded link in the drive to the cut-off valves. According to an insurance report of 23-3-72, the cylinders are 16" & 30" bores by 48" stroke and the engine ran at 56 rpm on steam at 100 psi.

On the day of the inspection it was developing 135 ihp. George Cooper measured the bores directly in 1989 and reported them as 161/8" x 29". He also measured the flywheel as 14' 6". According to various sources, the design horsepower was between 250 and 350 ihp.
 

(Jack Taylor and Colin Bowden)
 
 

LEICESTERSHIRE
 

Abbey Pumping Station, Corporation Road, Leicester (SK589067)

The Ruston Bucyrus steam navvy at the Leicester Museum of Technology, in this former sewage pumping station, has failed its boiler test and will now be a static exhibit. The museum is moving from the control of Leicester County Council, so the situation might change under new management.
The steam navvy was an awesome sight in action, probably more so than an express locomotive, and reminded everyone who saw it of Jurassic Park. It has a locomotive boiler with a 14 square foot grate and three non-condensing twin simple (duplex) engines. Two are side-by-side twins, one swung the excavator on its crawler unit, the other (the crowd engine) is mounted on the boom and used to drive the digging bucket forward by a rack on the bucket arm. The remaining engine, a larger "V" twin has clutches which allowed it to hoist the bucket or boom independently, or drive the crawler tracks. The hoist and swing engines exhausted up the chimney, the crowd engine exhausted directly to atmosphere at the end of the boom. When the navvy was working, all three engines worked in sequence, and on a December steaming, with the pant of the exhausts, clouds of steam and noise of the straight-cut gears, the pandemonium was awe-inspiring.

 

(195 - Newsletter of Friends of President, No. 34)
 
 

STAFFORDSHIRE
 

Sandfields Pumping Station, Lichfield

The South Staffordshire Waterworks Company are reputedly going to leave this site. Details are currently very sketchy, but it is believed that the J & G Davies Cornish beam engine is not under threat. It is to be hoped that this is so as Cornish waterworks engines are not a commodity that we can afford to lose.
(John Cooper and Claymills Pumping Engines Trust)

 
 

WARWICKSHIRE
 

Alder Mill Nurseries, Pinwall, near Atherstone (SP307993)

Two interesting machines are privately preserved al fresco at this former watermill site and are owned by Bob Williams.
Adorning the front lawn is a horizontal single cylinder reciprocating machine with slide valve. This was built by FW Brackett & Co Ltd, Colchester as works No. 26993. The cylinder is c10" x 12" and there is a trunk crosshead guide and marine type big end. There is a pulley, c3' diameter and grooved for vee belts. This was one of a pair of machines installed in the Tate & Lyle sugar factory at Fenny Stratford and in use until c1984.

Initial impressions are of a small steam engine and the owner perpetuates this by stating that it drove a generator. Our UK editor is convinced that this is a motor driven vacuum pump. Brackett built vacuum pumps (electrically and steam driven), a sugar factory uses such pumps, the "flywheel" is rather light and vee belt drive is unusual, and there is no evidence of governing gear.

The other machine is a vertical artesian well pump by Legrand, Sutcliff and Gell, Artesian well Engineers, London, works No. 76. This stands about 9' high and was driven by a small single cylinder Lister internal combustion engine.

Both items are unrestored and permission to visit should be sought from Mr Williams on 01827 717788. The Brackett engine may be seen, without trespassing, from the adjacent road.
 

(Chris Hodrien)
 
 

WEST MIDLANDS
 

Birmingham Museum of Science and Industry, Newhall Street, Birmingham

This Museum is a treasure trove of engineering exhibits as befits a city of the stature of Birmingham. Birmingham is famous as the home of Boulton and Watt, Tangyes, Belliss & Morcom, as well as being host to a whole variety of manufacturing industries. The Museum has many steam exhibits, some of international importance, and was the first British museum to run engines on steam regularly, since 1958. The exhibits include the oldest workable steam engine in the world, a Boulton & Watt pumping engine of 1779, a Galloway uniflow engine, an Easton & Amos Woolf compound beam engine, an intact Willans central valve engine and many more besides.
The Museum is free and is well visited by enthusiasts, casual visitors, school children, undergraduates and serious researchers alike. It is also popular with overseas visitors and in 1996 ISSES members from as far afield as Australia and the Virgin Isles visited.

Therefore, given its undoubted excellence, I am sorry to report that the Museum is threatened with imminent closure, possibly as early as June 1997. Further light is shed on this by the following communication that I have received from David Halls, Museum Steward of UNISON:-

What is happening to the Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry?

The Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry and its hands-on science centre, Light on Science, are presently under the threat of closure at the end of June 1997.

This has come about (apparently) because the Leisure & Community Services has decided to focus its budget cuts on the Science Museum in the hope that the impact of the closure will be offset by the opening of the new Discovery Centre in July, 2001. The Discovery Centre is the Birmingham Museums & Arts element of Millenium Point, one of the land-mark projects to celebrate the coming millenium.

Feelings at the Science Museum have changed from being generally excited at the prospect of a new museum to that of extreme disappointment. it was anticipated that staff currently employed at the Science Museum would not only contribute to the development of the new centre but would also be a part of its future. Although it was anticipated that there would be a transition phase between the Science Museum closing and the new Discovery Centre opening, it is felt that four years is a bit extreme!

The news of the potential closure is giving rise to concern of not only members of staff at the museum but also the community that the museum serves. A petition of over 20,000 signatures has already been collected to support the retention of the Science Museum.

From a museum employee's point of view it throws into doubt the possibilities of being re-employed in the new venture. More importantly it may mean that there will be no science museum or science centre in the midlands region for some considerable time. This will mean that a 7 year old will be 11, and a 12 year old may even be leaving school by the time the Science Museum is replaced. They, and the rest of the local community, will be denied access to not only the museum's collections but also to an important aspect of Birmingham's past and scientific heritage. What is perhaps worst is that the early closure may undermine the good work already done by the Science Museum in promoting museums and improving access to museums to the wider community.

--------------------------------------------
 
 

Any ISSES members who are concerned about the future of the Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry, its collections, and the services it should provide should write to:-

Councillor Theresa Stewart,

Leader of Birmingham City Council,

Council House,

Victoria Square,

Birmingham B1 1BB.

A copy of the letter should be sent to David Halls, Museum Steward, UNISON, 3rd Floor Mercury House, 71 Cornwall Street, Birmingham B3 2EE.
 
 

(Chris Allen)
 
 

WALES

MID GLAMORGAN
 

Elliott Colliery, New Tredegar (S0147027)

The restoration of this site is continuing and is hoped to be open to the public from Summer 1997, possibly July. I think it is fair to say that the restoration record in Wales is less than sparkling, and the opening of this site will be a most welcome addition.
The horizontal twin tandem compound winder is a rare and impressive beast and this is the only known example of an in situ engine with a diablo drum. It is to be hoped that ISSES members will visit and lend their support to this worthy cause.

 

(Larry Ferris)