Textile Mill Engines
|Mon, 23 Mar 2009 22:13
|A gallery devoted to steam engines in textile mills and former textile mills. This also includes ancillary engines and items of steam related plant.
This gallery has now had the framework very largely completed and populated but I will continue to upload relevant photographs as they become available. If you feel something is missing, please post on the main site and let me know.
I will start with beam engines.
The picturesque Lumbhole Mill at Kettleshulme is home to an early single cylinder beam engine that supplemented a water wheel and is believed to have seen little use.
A machine of similar vintage is preserved at Garlogie where the power house is all that remains of a larger mill . The engine is a house built single cylinder beam engine .
The Whitelees Mill beam engine was built in 1841 by John Petrie of Rochdale and was for many years preserved in a glass-fronted engine house at the successor company to its maker . It is now on display and steamable at the Ellenroad Engine House
Ledgard Bridge Mills, Mirfield was home to a pusher compounded beam engine . The engine is now in the undergrowth at Wortley Top Forge and the mill is unrecognisable as apartments .
There are one or two textile mill beam engines preserved in museums. The two best examples are at the Bolton Steam Museum that has been built up by the Northern Mill Engine Society. This is a unique example of a double beam engine that was originally used at a mill in Wardle near Rochdale. This is the only re-erected McNaughted compound beam engine. McNaught refers to the patentee of the system and not the manufacturer. This came from Cellarsclough Mill, Marsden . Bradford Industrial Museum has a largely dismantled example while Summerlee Industrial Museum has a double McNaught beam engine by Turnbull, Grant & Jack of Glasgow. This was built as such, many were retrofits, and worked in a Muslin factory in Glasgow. It has been in store for decades and is without its flywheel.
The only surviving Woolf compound from a textile mill is preserved at the museum in Taunton Castle and came from Pearsall's silk mill, Taunton. Built in 1850 by Easton & Amos of London.
There is a single column, single cylinder beam engine of c1849 from Glemsford Silk Mill that is in the regional museum store at Beamish and is the property of Newcastle-on-Tyne museums.
Towards the end of the steam era there were some very large beam engines built, including some twin beam triple expansion engines with six cylinders. One of these was at Nile Mill, Hollinwood . The engine is long gone but the empty house survives.
|Wed, 1 Apr 2009 23:01
|True vertical (crank overhead) engines did enjoy some popularity, especially in Yorkshire but there is little left to see today.
At London Road Mills, Macclesfield there are the incomplete remains of a vertical single cylinder engine . This has been incorporated into a rebuilt building.
Schofield and Taylor of turnbridge, Huddersfield supplied a compound single crank engine to Clough House Mills Slaithwaite in 1887. Clough house mill is long gone, although Clough House is still there along with the mill pond. Elizabeth, the engine , has been re-erected in a purpose built engine house at Wortley Top Forge .
An unusual cross compound vertical engine was supplied second-hand to Jonas Kenyon of Dearneside Mill, Denby Dale in 1900. The Northern Mill Engine Society removed this in the late 1970s and for a while it was stored in the open at Markham Grange Steam Museum . It has now been re-erected at the Northern Mill Engine Society's Bolton Steam Museum . Dearneside mill is now a housing estate.
A long departed Yorkshire built engine was installed at Pendlestone Mills, Bridgnorth .
|Wed, 1 Apr 2009 23:04
|The largest class of engine used in textile mills, from the 1850s onwards was the horizontal engine with cylinder numbers ranging from one to four and horsepowers from a few 10s to 3000 or so.|
|Tue, 7 Apr 2009 23:16
|The simplest horizontal engine was the single cylinder with a slide valve. These were usually limited to the lower powers but there is a quite large example of about 250 horsepower and built in 1864 preserved at the Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester . This was from the Durn mill in Littleborough and built by Earnshaw & Holt of Rochdale. Another two quite large early examples, both from 1865, are to be found in Blairgowrie in two former flax and jute mills operated by Thomas Thomson. Ashgrove works remains in family ownership and is home to a waterwheel, a diesel engine and a horizontal single cylinder slide valve engine by Pearce Brothers of Dundee . This has had a drop cut-off valve added but is otherwise much as built. The other mill has now been developed for apartments and is Keathbank Works with a James Carmichael engine that had a more modern cylinder fitted in c1914-18 . This cylinder has drop inlet valves and semi-rotary (Corliss) exhaust valves . The original cylinder probably was a slide valve example.
A further basic example was found at the Jesse Street Dyeworks in Bradford . This single cylinder slide valve engine was by an unknown maker was built c1880s and installed 2nd hand about 1901. it was removed in 1991 and is now at Quarry Bank Mill, Styal in an original engine house for a horizontal engine.
Some of the smaller mills had more sophisticated horizontal single cylinder engines with the Corliss valve gear. A very good surviving example is the Chauntry Mills of D Gurteen in Haverhill where there is a Hick, Hargreaves single cylinder engine of 1879 that developed 120 horsepower.
A very similar Hick, Hargreaves of 1873 was removed from Gamble's Factory, Newdigate Street, Nottingham and is now on display at the Forncett Industrial Steam Museum, Forncett St Mary, Norfolk . Another, Scottish built example by Douglas & Grant of Kirkcaldy in 1923 is preserved in the Museum of Scotland .
Next we will look at horizontal tandem compound engines.
|Mon, 20 Apr 2009 23:47
|In the UK, medium sized and larger engines were usually compounded so that the steam was expanded in two cylinders - a smaller diameter high pressure cylinder and a larger diameter low pressure cylinder. Compound engines were more efficient as the temparature drop in each stage was reduced and even the single crank tandems had a lower peak crankpin pressure and were smoother running. The horizontal single crank tandem compound (with the cylinders in line, one behind the other on a common piston rod) were very popular in the smaller textile mills - especially Yorkshire woollen mills and the smaller Lancashire weaving sheds. The size range was typically between about 250 horsepower and a 1000 horsepower, although there were outliers.
Anyway, on with the pictures.
One of the oldest in situ examples dates from 1873 and is at Glenruthven Mill, Auchterarder . The engine is a slide valve example with a jet condenser. Drive was by a belt.
Providence Mill, Earlsheaton, near Dewsbury has an an interesting engine built as a single by W & J Cardwell of Dewsbury in 1883 and converted to a tandem by Woodhouse & Mitchell of Brighouse in 1894 . The high pressure cylinder has Corliss valves, the low pressure cylinder has a slide valve and the governor is a Proell. The drive was direct on to the mainshaft. The engine was unusual in being always non-condensing.
An 1886 example by Pollit & Wigzell is to be found at Nortonthorpe Mills, Scissett . This engine was rebuilt in 1929 and has a Corliss valve high pressure cylinder, slide valve low pressure cylinder and a jet condenser. It is the patented three piston rod type; a patent intended to shorten the engine. It is seen here before restoration and here following restoration to a steamable condition .
The preserved example at Leeds Industrial Museum is claimed to be 1887 and led a peripatetic existence before coming to the museum. This is claimed to be by Woodhouse & Mitchell of Brighouse and has a slide valve low pressure and a Corliss high pressure .
A similar mix of slide and Corliss valves was to be found on the 1895 S S Stott engine at Baitings Mill, Norden . The mill is now a housing estate and the engine is preserved in Canada.
An in situ engine of the same vintage is at Queen Street Mill, Harle Syke . This was built by William Roberts of Nelson and rebuilt in 1918-19 following a fire. As rebuilt it had Corliss valves on both cylinders . This picture shows that its livery has changed over the years . The engine is direct coupled to the mainshaft and drives the looms via lineshafts and belts .
Smith Bros & Eastwood of Bradford built a Corliss valve tandem in 1901 for Cross Lane Mills, Low Bradley . The engine stopped in 1978 (I saw it running near the end) and has since been removed for preservation at Bancroft Mill, Barnoldswick .
A 1902 J & W McNaught of Rochdale engine is on display in the Bolton Steam Museum . This was supplied to the Wasp Mill, Wardle and is of 250 horsepower. This has a Corliss valve high pressure cylinder and a simple slide valve on the low pressure cylinder.
A nice 1903 J & E Wood of Bolton Corliss valve example is in store for Bolton Museum Services and came from Woodland Mills . This was the first mill steam engine that I ever saw and was to start me on a journey that continues to the current time.
A 1907 example by J & W McNaught of Rochdale is on display at the Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester. This is of 500 horsepower with a Corliss valve high pressure cylinder, expansion slide valve low pressure cylinder and a rope drive flywheel.
At Runtlings Mill, Ossett there was a 1908 engine by Marsden's Engines Ltd of Heckmondwyke. This shoddy and mungo works was latterly owned by engineering companies and the engine had been lying disused since 1975. It has now been removed and is being re-erected at Markham Grange Steam Museum . If anybody can post a picture of Runtlings Mill I will use it here.
One of my favourite examples of this type was at Washpit Mills where there was a 1909 built 600 horsepower Pollit & Wigzell engine called Agnes . This had Corliss valves on both cylinders and there was a rope drive both to the mill and to a large open-frame alternator. This engine is now workable at Markham Grange Steam Museum and this shows it being re-erected .
A smaller version of the Washpit mills engine was to be found at Upper Mills in Slaithwaite, operated by Elon Crowther & Sons . This was a 1910 Pollit & Wigzell patent three rod tandem compound called 'Lizzie' . This was of 250 horsepower and installed here secondhand in 1924. It is now in store at Masson Mills, Matlock Bath. It shared its house with a more modern Belliss & Morcom generating set and that is also in store at Masson Mills.
S S Stott of Haslingden built this engine for Syke Mills, Haslingden. It stopped in 1978 when the bypass claimed its lodge. It was removed in 1982 and is in store in a scrapyard. It has donated parts to the nearby Grane Mill engine. The mill has gone and I do not think there are any photos of it on the site.
There are two very nice Corliss valve tandem compounds in Northern Ireland. One is at Milltown Mills, Benburb and is by Victor Coates of Belfast and the other is at the former mill of the Coalisland Weaving Co and is by Combe, Barbour .
The more 'modern' engines had drop valves, rather than Corliss valves and had a more continental appearance. Indeed, in Germany especially the drop valve virtually ousted the Corliss. However, we Brits were more conservative and there was complete overlap of the types chronologically.
A very nice example is this 1907 Musgrave at Bamford Mill . The engine survives in situ but is no longer operable. The mill has been converted to apartments and has lost its chimney . The mill also housed an important example of an early steam turbine that is believed to have been scrapped.
Even less lucky is this 1914 example by Cole, Marchent & Morley of Bradford which was at Craven Mills, Bramley . This was scrapped in about 2007 and this picture shows the roofline of the demolished engine house, the boarded up slot for the rope race and the sliding door that gave access to the engine house from the mill.
|Tue, 28 Apr 2009 23:04
|Another two cylinder layout that was very popular in small and medium sizes was the cross compound with the two cylinders driving to separate cranks at opposite sides of the central flywheel. This resulted in a more square floor plan and provided a very even turning motion with four power strokes per revolution.
This type was popular in the weaving sheds of the Burnley area and several examples survived at work in to the late 1970s. Examples that no longer remain in situ include the following: - Abbey Mill, Billington, Whalley, c1885 by W & J Yates, Blackburn with Varley's cross cut-off gear and gear drive - this was removed for preservation, kept in indoor store for many years and then ultimately scrapped. Indian & Primrose Mill, Church - Ashton, Frost & Co Ltd, Blackburn 1884 gear drive engine - this was removed to store at Howarth Art Gallery, Accrington but the remains have since been scrapped - a terrible waste. Jubilee Mills Padiham contained a very nice W & J Yates of 1888 with Varley's cross cut-off gear and very fine wood lagging to the cylinders - this is now being re-erected in an engine house at Masson Mill, Matlock Bath .
A surviving example in the Burnley area is at Oak Mount Mill (also known as Wiseman Street Shed) and was built in 1887, probably by W & J Yates. It has had many alterations over the years and finally stopped in 1979. It is now preserved by the Friends of the Weavers' Triangle and there are several open days each year. This is also a gear drive engine and is interesting in that the high pressure cylinder's Corliss valves are all at the top (the exhaust valves were usually at the bottom) .
More recent engines used multiple rope drive (a single rope could transmit up to 50 horsepower) and there are a few examples left. An example preserved al fresco is found outside India Mill in Darwen . This was built in 1905 by J & E Wood of Bolton and is of 450 horsepower with a 15' flywhheel. The valve gear is Corliss and typical of the maker, all the valves are below the cylinder (it was usual to have the inlet valves at the top).
This one was built in 1907 by S S Stott of Haslingden and is being preserved in situ at the Grane Mill, Haslingden .
This 1910 example by Clayton, Goodfellow of Blackburn is at Holmes Mill, Clitheroe .
A less common example driving by a large flat belt was found at Albion Mills, Hazel Grove . It is now being erected at the Anson Museum, Poynton . It was built in 1903 by SS Stott of Haslingden with a Corliss valve high pressure cylinder and a slide valve low pressure cylinder .
A more modern drop valve example is to be found in south Devonshire at Coldharbour Mill, Uffculme . This was built in 1910 by Pollit & Wigzell of Sowerby Bridge and replaced earlier beam engines . This is now preserved and can be operated on steam.
A late example is to be found at Bancroft Mill, Barnoldswick where there is a 1922 example by William Roberts of Nelson with Corliss valves on both cylinders .
The biggest surviving example and also a late example is to be found at the No. 2 Mill of Leigh Spinners and was built in 1925 by Yates & Thom of Blackburn . This developed 1800 horsepower and is a good example of the large spinning mill drive engine . This is listed and remains in situ, although somewhat rusty.
One of the later examples was this 1927 Robey cross compound at Wilsons, Springbank Mills, Dunblane , now converted to apartments and unrecognisable .
A type little used in the textile trade was the horizontal side by side compound with the flywheel to one side and the cranks at 90 degrees to each other. A mill that was variously used in the woollen trade is St Mary's Mill at Chalford in the Stroud valley area with a Tangyes horizontal side by side compound .
|Sun, 14 Jun 2009 22:31
|For higher powers the horizontal four cylinder types were very popular. These could be arranged as a twin tandem compound with tandem compound cylinders either side of the flywheel with a common crankshaft having cranks at 90 degrees. This was effectively two separate engines sharing a crankshaft and governor. The other four cylinder layout was the four cylinder triple expansion with the high pressure and one low pressure on one side and the intermediate pressure and other low pressure on the opposite side. The size range was typically 1200 horsepower up to 3000 horsepower but many were in the 1400-1800 horsepower range. They were popular in cotton spinning mills and especially in such areas as Oldham, Rochdale and the textile area of Cheshire (Ashton-under-Lyne, Stalybridge, etc).
These are large machines and the best hope is in situ preservation but this is obviously not easy and only two of this layout remain in situ in textile mills.
I will start with a story that does not have a happy ending. Courtaulds operated several engines at the end of the big spinning mill era but one by one they succumbed. One of the last was at Dee Mill, Shaw and the Northern Mill Engine society negotiated with the owners to retain it in situ and operate it on open days. These started in 1976 and were hugely successful . Unfortunately, the mill closed and was sold on in the early 1980s. The engine house became a scheduled ancient monument but the rest of the mill was demolished . The engine was severely vandalised and ultimately scrapped. A sad end to a promising start. A huge warehouse now stands on the site .
The surviving in situ twin tandem compound engine is at Newhey in what remains of the Ellenroad Ring Mill. These views show the mill as it was following a rebuild in the 1920s after a disastrous fire . When it was demolished, the new owners retained the engine house complex and chimney as a monument . The engine was built in 1892 by J & W McNaught of rochdale as a horizontal four cylinder triple expansion. Following the fire it was rebuilt in 1921 by Clayton, Goodfellow of Blackburn as a more powerful twin tandem compound. As rebuilt it could develop up to 2650 horsepower.
The only in situ horizontal four cylinder triple expansion engine is at Trencherfield Mill, Wigan and was built in 1907 by J & E Wood of Bolton to develop 2100 horsepower .
There is a small off-site twin tandem compound example that has been re-erected in an engine house at New Lanark . This view shows a glass walkway that recapitulates the profile of the rope race from the original engine across the lade. This was built by Petrie in 1910 and used at Philiphaugh Mill, Selkirk. It is a tiddler at 350 indicated horsepower .
A large example remains dismantled and in store in the Hyde area. This came from Fern Mill, Shaw
|Wed, 1 Jul 2009 23:59
|A more modern class of mill engine was the inverted vertical type (sometimes referred to as the marine type) with the cylinders over the crankshaft. These were made with one to three cylinders and the two cylinder variants could be side by side or cross compound. These were made up to the largest sizes. The Sun Mill, Chadderton had a 3500 horsepower inverted vertical triple expansion engine but both mill and engine are now gone.
We start with a rare example of a single cylinder example built in 1886 by Hick, Hargreaves of Bolton and preserved in the town centre alongside a statue of one of Bolton's most famous sons . The engine was used at Ford, Ayrton & Co in Low Bentham and if the mill still exists perhaps somebody could post a picture. It is a Corliss, condensing engine with Spencer Inglis double clip trip gear.
There are four surviving compounds on the mainland. The largest is the in situ example at Waterloo Mills, Silsden . This was built by Scott & Hodgson of Guide Bridge in 1896 and is of 500 horsepower.
Amazingly, one of the other survivors, a side by side compound example, is also by Scott & Hodgson of guide bridge . This was used at the Diamond Rope Works in Royton . It was acquired from the scrapman by the Northern Mill Engine Society and is now on display in its Bolton Steam Museum .
This museum is also home to the amazing Musgrave non-dead centre engine . This has a triangular connecting rod and the geometry eliminates the dead centre so it is self-starting in any crank position. This was the first engine acquired by the Society and cost £50.
A very interesting cross compound example by Ferranti is preserved at the Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester . This was built in 1898 to drive a 250 kW shaft mounted alternator and was for public electricity supply in Lambeth. In 1900 it was relocated to a weaving shed in Chorley and ran for 60 years as a textile mill engine with rope drive. It was acquired by Ferranti for display in its Hollinwood works and is now on public display at Manchester, once again with a shaft mounted alternator.
There is another side by side compound variant dismantled in store having been on display for many years at the Ulster Museum, Belfast . There is also another Hick, Hargreaves compound in private preservation in Ulster but I am not sure how far re-erection has progressed.
Sadly, the last inverted vertical triple expansion engine to be used in a textile mill was scrapped in 2008.
|Fri, 31 Jul 2009 08:31
|The last major technological development in reciprocating steam power was the uniflow engine. This was successfully re-introduced in 1908 by Stumpf of Charlottenberg. This engine is like a 2-stroke IC engine with central exhaust ports. This allows unidirectional flow of the steam and improves the thermodynamic efficiency so that a single cylinder engine can match the efficiency of a triple expansion.
The best surviving eample is a 1921 built engine by Newton, Bean & Mitchell of Bradford from Linton Mills and now on display at Bradford Industrial Musem where it can be seen in steam .
The only example by Pollit & Wigzell was used at Dobroyd Mills and is erected but not fully restored at Armley Mills, Leeds .
An interesting late development on the theme was the "extraction" engine whereby a compound with two cylinders was arranged so that steam could be bled from the receiver at an intermediate pressure and used in process. The low pressure cylinder was often of the uniflow type (hence its inclusion here). Such engines required both an extraction pressure governor and a speed governor and had interesting dynamics. The only surviving example is a very sophisticated engine by W & J Galloway and built in 1926 for Elm Street Mill, Burnley . It is now on display at the Museum of Science and Industry, Liverpool road, Manchester.
|Thu, 6 Aug 2009 08:55
|The reciprocating engine gave way to the steam turbine but these were little used in the textile industry and direct drive examples were even rarer. I will be looking at examples driving generators below but in this section I will look at the only example I saw of a textile mill turbine with rope drives.
This was at Elk Mill, Royton and was a C A Parsons cross compound steam turbine . This drove Elk Mill by ropes from a wide rope drum and drove the nearby Shiloh mills with current produced from an alternator. The turbines drove to a reduction gear box with one output passing to the drum and the other passing back between the turbine casings to drive the alternator. Total power was a very impressive 2600 horsepower, putting it amongst the most powerful 'engines' in Lancashire.