Sunday, 28 August 2011

Bolton Steam Museum

Located in what used to be the cotton warehouse of Atlas Mills in Bolton is the steam museum, home of several large mill steam engines and many smaller engines. Because of the cost of gas for the boiler, the museum only steams its engines a few days a year; today was one of them, and Mike Hyslop and myself zoomed down there in his Porche 911. We were joined later by Graham Robertshawe who arrived by motorcycle (a nice Aprillia) from his Northwich home.

Double click on the pictures for full size images.

A view down one side of the museum.....

....and a view down the other side

A tandem compound mill engine, so called because the high pressure cylinder (on the right) and the low pressure cylinder (on the left) are in line on a common piston rod. The high pressure cylinder has Corliss variable cut-off valve gear controlled by the governor, whereas the low pressure one has a simple slide valve. The video below shows the Corliss valve gear in operation.

We were taken 'behind the scenes' to see the boiler. Like the one at Styal Mill it is gas fired and not very interesting to look at. Alongside the boiler is the control panel and the water gauge glasses.

We noticed an eccentric drive on this twin beam engine (the oldest in the museum) seemed to be juddering through lack of lubrication. Mike watches while on the staff gives it a few squirts of oil from a can. It didn't seem to fix it, though!

'Audrey' was built by Sissons of Gloucester as late as 1961 as a 'teaching' engine for training students at a time when when steam power was part of their curriculum. It spent its life at Harris College in Preston and can be configured as twin cylinder compound, or as two separate single cylinder engines. It has two types of valve gear and incorporates many features that not normally all seen together in one engine.

This steam driven water pump is reminiscent of the one we have at Styal Mill, with the piston rods of the engine and pump connected by a 'banjo' (painted red, on the side of the engine nearest to the camera) in which the crank which drives the flywheel rotates.

The Bolton Steam Museum is run entirely by volunteers. The engines have been restored, many from near-scrap condition, by museum members, and even the building itself has been largely made suitable for purpose by the volunteers. There has been some financial help from Morrisons supermarket who own the site, but otherwise the museum is purely self-funded. They don't even charge for entry, though donations are welcome. What a great job they are doing!


1 comment:

  1. What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
    The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.