ISSES Bulletin 1997 Issue 4

Edited by Chris Allen

Boat Museum, Dockyard Road, Ellesmere Port (SJ406772)

Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum, Threlkeld

Site of Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Low Wood (approx SD348838)

Bolton Steam Museum, Mornington Road, Bolton (SD700099)

Merseyside Maritime Museum, Albert Dock, Liverpool

National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside, Large Objects Store, Liverpool

Tenbury Wells Pump Room, Tenbury Wells (SO596683)


Place names are now qualified by reference to the appropriate County, County Borough or Council Area name. These have been obtained from the 1998 Road Atlas of Britain published by the Automobile Association. This will now form the standard reference for ISSES Notes and News until the authorities see fit to move the names or boundaries once again.

(Chris Allen, Editor)



Boat Museum, Dockyard Road, Ellesmere Port (SJ406772)

According to the Steam Heritage, Museums & Rally Guide, 1998/99, this site should have had its hydraulic pumping engines in steam on 5 April 1998. Unfortunately, a party of three ISSES Committee members were disappointed to find that this was not so. The site's vertical boiler is unserviceable and they are awaiting the installation of a replacement. This is expected in the near future and it is hoped to have steam up by the summer.

We were also surprised to note that the engines had been repainted, overall in a pale green/yellow colour. In our opinion this is most unflattering. On a positive note, visitors are now allowed into the cellar of the pump house and can see some of the plumbing. It was interesting to note that the steam pipes appeared to have been modelled on the hydraulic plumbing with similar flanges and jointing.

The museum are seeking any notes or photographs taken of the pumping engines and boilers in both engine houses during the period c1965 - 1978. This was the period when the site was abandoned and derelict. Any members who can assist with this are asked to contact Jim McKeown at The Boat Museum Trust, South Pier Road, Ellesmere Port, South Wirral, Cheshire, L65 4FW.

(John Cooper and Chris Hodrien)


Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum, Threlkeld

This museum opened in 1995 in an old quarry and displays a quarry railway, excavators, underground experience and machine shop, to name but a few. The site is described in the July 1997 edition of Old Glory and one of the accompanying photographs shows an apparent steam engine. This appears to be quite a large inverted vertical single cylinder (enclosed) engine. The crankcase detailing strongly suggests a product of Ashworth & Parker. It is in the open with a sheet over the cylinder block. There is a disc flywheel but no evidence of a driven device.

We would welcome any further details of this machine and any other stationary engines that may be present at this site.


(Old Glory, July 1997)

Site of Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Low Wood (approx SD348838)

At the site of these works, formerly owned by ICI and closed in 1935, there remains a very rusty locomotive type boiler in a tiny boiler house, recently restored complete with a small square chimney shaft. The land is privately owned and the boiler house firmly locked, so the boiler can only be viewed through a window. It appears to be on its original working site.

An historical booklet on the works, being sold in a local shop, states that the boiler was built by Robey; presumably this is cast on the firehole door. Also, presumably the boiler stood in the open for a long time prior to the house being restored, so it is well decayed. No restoration work appears to have been carried out on the boiler.

(Brian Hillsdon)


Bolton Steam Museum, Mornington Road, Bolton (SD700099)

A group of three ISSES Committee members visited this site on 5 April 1998 and were well impressed with progress since the last report (IB 19.1, pp2-3).

The inverted vertical compound engine from Diamond Rope Works is now virtually complete. The work in hand consisted of fitting a new mechanical lubricator and the only major items remaining were the fitting of gauges, minor plumbing and final painting. This latter is only likely to proceed when the museum is practically finished.

The Cellarsclough McNaughted beam engine has made major progress. The beam is now in place, having been successfully lifted, without any drama whatsoever in a single afternoon. The next task is to fit a wooden floor to the beam chamber so that the final tasks can be completed in safety. The material has been obtained for this and the work is about to commence. When this has been completed the connecting rod and both sets of parallel motion will follow. The barring engine has also been fitted and we were privileged to see this being tested on compressed air. This was the first time the flywheel had been moved by mechanical means since 1966 and most impressive it was.

I cannot stress too much how important this engine is in the history of steam power and it will be a great day indeed when it once again turns under steam. This is only engine of its type (a true conversion of a single cylinder beam engine) that is anything like complete. The only other example in the UK has lain partly installed for in excess of twenty years and the situation is not likely to change in the near future.

The volunteers have now turned their attention to the horizontal single cylinder rotative fire pump that was obtained from Fern Mill, Shaw in 1982. This had lain outside for many years and had survived a recent attempt to load it on to the back of a lorry. Spurred on by this near disaster, the NMES have brought the remains indoor and dismantled them with a view to possible full restoration.

This will then leave the major task of completing a working museum that is fit for public habitation. This has been made all the more difficult by the Heritage Lottery Fund's rejection of the NMES's application. However, the NMES are not noted for quitting and are now working on a cheaper alternative that should still result in a passable public museum.

(Chris Hodrien & John Cooper)


Merseyside Maritime Museum, Albert Dock, Liverpool

The Technology Testbed site, at Princes Dock, has now been closed and demolished (see SB 11.1, pp12-13). The large J & H Gwynne & Co inverted vertical tandem compound engine from Huskisson Dock has now been re-erected in the open adjacent to Canning Dock. This is part of the Merseyside Maritime Museum that is based in the adjoining Albert Dock. Nearby, also in the open, is a horizontal duplex deck winch by Dunlop, Bell & Co Ltd, Liverpool. This has cylinders c8" x 12" and a single drum with a 32" face. This was presented to the museum in 1976 by The Mersey Docks & Harbour Board.

In the Ben Shaw Gallery, inside the museum, the principal steam exhibit is a magnificently restored diagonal compound paddle engine built in 1900 by E Timmins & Sons Ltd, Runcorn and formerly in the paddle launch Firefly. The hull was built by W Roberts of Chester and when it was converted to twin screw motor drive in 1932 the engine was kept safe at the Wynn family private estate at Fort Belan in North Wales. A museum was opened to the public at Fort Belan during the 1970s and several steam and yachting relics owned by the family were on display here. After the museum closed the steam items were transferred to the Merseyside Museums in 1986.

Other steam exhibits in the Ben Shaw Gallery include an inverted vertical compound marine engine of 110 ihp, cylinders 6¼ & 12½ x 8", built by J I Thornycroft & Co Ltd, Chiswick, engine No. 111. This was formerly fitted in British Admiralty torpedo boat TB 71 and acquired by the museum in 1966 from Bootle Technical College. There is also an inverted vertical duplex dredger engine, c8 & 8 x 10", with one cylinder sectioned to show the piston and rod inside. It was formerly in the dredger Arpley of 1939, which was broken up in 1978.

(Brian Hillsdon)

National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside, Large Objects Store, Liverpool

This store, formerly at Princes Dock, has now moved to a former bonded tobacco warehouse a few miles to the north. It is NOT open to the public but does contain the following items of steam equipment:-

a) Inverted vertical single cylinder banjo crank pump built by John Cameron Ltd, Manchester, c6 x 3½ x 6", acquired in 1978, now labelled for possible disposal.

b) A horizontal duplex fire-pump with a pump diameter of 10", labelled 1975 ex Ogden's Tobacco Works. It is in need of restoration.

c) An inverted vertical single cylinder Marshall engine with reversing gear, acquired in 1985. The plate has been removed so the works number could not be noted.

d) An inverted vertical (enclosed) single cylinder centrifugal pumping engine built in 1951 by Reader of Nottingham, No. 26286.

e) A rail mounted one ton capacity steam crane built by Bedford Engineering Co, Bedford, No. 485. The only known survivor by this manufacturer.

f) The 36' steam launch Birdie built in 1903 by Simpson, Strickland & Co Ltd, Dartmouth and fitted with one of their patent quadruple expansion launch engines and vertical boiler. This is all original to the hull. This came from the Fort Belan Museum (vide supra).

(Brian Hillsdon)


Tenbury Wells Pump Room, Tenbury Wells (SO596683)

A report in SB 7.1, p12 recorded the existence of a derelict inverted vertical single cylinder engine of unknown manufacture at this derelict group of spa buildings. Subsequent visits revealed that although the buildings remained the engine had been removed.

A grant has been secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund to carry out several projects in the town, including the restoration of these buildings. It is not known whether this will include the re-installation of the engine although it is assumed that the engine does survive as it was small and eminently preservable.

ISSES would welcome any further information on this subject and we will endeavour to keep you informed of developments on this site.


(BBC Midlands Today, 27 November 1997)