08-09-2008, 07:06 PM
Re overloading the grinders for a break from work, where i worked the main drive belt from the steam engine passed over the door to the toilets/ washroom, if the guys on machines wanted a break,"Monday mornings", they would throw the dregs of their billy can on to the belt, this usually brought the belt off, and Sammy Kirk and myself had to replace it asap, we had to unfasten the belt coupling, we had a strecher that clamped each end of the belt, tightened it untill we could rejoin the two ends, if we were lucky, an hour would do it, otherwise the shop manager was like a bull at us. happy days, I never knew of cranes at J Adamson, thanks for info
08-10-2008, 08:10 AM
You will be pleased to know that the Auckland City Refuse Destructor is still in good order - but now as a (tourist) market, close to the area you stayed in Auckland. I don't think there is anything left of the internal workings, but the buildings and chimney are a nice old sight. The info I have mentions the Meldrum Destructor completed in 1905, good to hear about the Manchester connection. It sounds like electricity generation was a bit of an afterthought. There were two Browett & Lindley steam engines driving Westinghouse generators, total capacity was 450 kW, commisioned in 1908. More Manchester made machinery. This plant was overloaded within a few months, and the supplimentary coal firing was required. Thus the nearby Kings Wharf power station was opened in 1913, this was right down on on one of the wharfs at the bottom of the city. It used some decent-sized Bellis & Morcom engines to generate 3,300kW, with this figure greatly increased over the years. This station worked into the 1960's, I think there is a possibility a couple of large Belliss engines (ex-Chelsea Sugar refinery across the harbour) that survive at MOTAT might have originally been at Kings Wharf.
When you were in Auckland you would have been within a few metres of the offices of the Auckland Electric Tramway Co Ltd, this old building survives. Probably the same engineer was responsible for the Refuse Destructor and the Tramway project. Apparently the Tramway was the largest engineering project in the country at the time (electrification work began in 1899). There is a facinating mercury rectifer still in operation at MOTAT in Auckland, used in the power supply for their tram system. I wonder if it has any connection to this early company. MOTAT also has an old 1920's? Ruston excavator (which still runs) that was used to lift the tramlines when they stopped running. This excavator was recently on hand to celebrate the finishing of a new tramline between the two museum sites.
I am not sure how the Auckland Electric Tramway company generated its current, but they were required to supply electricity for lighting Queen Street in 1903. You have aroused my curiosity!
EDIT note: I have just read that the Auckland Electric Tramway Company's powerhouse was on Lower Hobson Street, no doubt near the surviving office building mentioned above. What is interesting is that it was a co-gen station - heated water from the condensors was gravity fed down the hill to the Tepid Baths (still surviving, Asquith, you would have walked past them). The power station closed in 1924, so the baths were cold until 1925 when heat was restored.
BTW, you mentioned Willys Overland Crossley. Crossley Motors was probably mortally wounded by this unfortunate partnership. It sounds like John North Willys was far too clever for Crossley Motors. It is all explained in Crossley by Eyre, Heaps and Townsin. Crossley Motors lost huge amounts of money in this venture, but it seems like Mr Willys managed to do quite well, and ended up as the United States first ambassador to Poland in 1930, with his millions intact.
Last edited by Peter S; 08-11-2008 at 03:17 AM.
08-11-2008, 06:49 PM
By 'eck, Peter, I now remember you pointing out the old ‘destructor’ station. There was so much to see and so little time on that trip. I also recall the excellent booklet you had on Auckland’s engineering heritage which featured all those interesting places. Every town should have something similar.
I also remember strolling down from the hotel to the waterfront, and being amused and intrigued by the name ‘Tepid Baths’, and learning that they received hot water from the tramways generating station. I’ve now found that the tramway plant had three steam engines from Cole, Marchent & Morley of Bradford, Yorkshire.
Going back to Browett & Lindley, as mentioned by Peter in the context of Auckland’s refuse destructor: in post #87 I showed photos of the surviving factory building, and also of a large Browett steam engine, one of several installed locally in the Salford Corporation Tramways generating station. I recently found a write-up about the up-rating of some of those engines in 1913. In the earlier post I said they were rated at 1500 HP. I was wrong, the generators were rated at 800 kW (1072 HP). The engines were uprated by Browett, Lindley to deliver 1000 kW (i.e. power output increased from 1072 to 1340 HP).
As built, the engines were three-crank compounds, with three pairs of cylinders of 14 and 30 inches diameter. They were rebuilt in 1913, removing the compounded cylinders and replacing them with three uniflow cylinders of 30 inches diameter. The Mather & Platt generators were unchanged. Despite developing 25% more power, the steam consumption was markedly reduced, by 25% in fact. The original steam consumption was stated to be 24 lb/kW hr, so a 25% reduction would take it to a more respectable 16 lb/kW hr. No photo available showing the plant’s superintendent, no doubt wearing celluloid collar, bow tie and spats (and, of course, other clothes as well), and looking quite pleased with himself. We do have a photo of the modified engine amidst its taller and now less powerful neighbours:-
A question for Peter about the Crossley book: is it just about vehicles or does it cover stationary engines as well? The Willys-Overland-Crossley factory in Heaton Chapel, near Manchester, seems to have had an interesting history, starting as a government aircraft factory in WW1, bought by Crossley, and sold to Fairey Aviation who produced aircraft there again in WW2. Fairey diversified, and an interesting aspect of their work was machining thousands of tons of interlocking graphite blocks for gas-cooled nuclear reactors. In fact they built a new factory somewhere in the Stockport area in the 1980s specifically for one large graphite machining contract.
08-11-2008, 07:40 PM
Peter introduced the connection between Crossley and Willys, well here’s a somewhat different link with an overseas car maker: Crossley supplied stationary engines to De Dion Bouton in France in 1904, running on producer gas:-
In searching for more information, I came across this snippet about a de Dion Bouton engine and a Crossley working together in a Belgian brewery:-
“1890, a 5 to 6 horsepower steam engine (a Bollinck from Brussels) was installed to work the mash tub, the malt crusher and the water pump.
To solve the problem of a lack of water (the Flanders subsoil is a clay one), a surface well was dug at the bottom of the village with a centrifugal pump worked using a Dion Bouton single-cylinder motor like the one used in the first cars.
In about 1908, a petrol-driven Dequewer motor made in Hazebrouck (the capital of French Inland Flanders) replaced the steam engine. A few years later this was in turn replaced by a 8 horse-power English-made Crossley that gave long and loyal service until 1934.”
The Crossley brothers would have been outraged to learn that one of their engines was helping to produce the demon drink.
They would have been quite happy with a much more unusual application of a Crossley engine, to be found in Australia: It ran on towns gas, driving a hydraulic pump which operated rams to work a swing bridge.
If anyone’s interested, there’s a thread abut it here:-
08-11-2008, 09:10 PM
Crossley by Michael Eyre, Chris Heaps and Alan Townsin, published by Oxford Publishing in 2002 is a very nicely produced large format book of 271 pages, full of excellent photos and text. The book is primarily about Crossley Motors, however because this company had its origins in Crossley Brothers, their history is covered in the first 49 pages from beginnings to 2001. Although there are some photos of engines, this is not a model-by-model history, more a selection of engines over the years, and not really any technical development discussed.
So there still is a need for a history of Crossley Brothers and their engines. I contacted one of the authors of Crossley about this and other points, he responded that someone does have the resources and intention to write such a book, but fears it may not eventuate. Here is hoping we see such a book some day!
I may have mentioned before, I also have two books written about Frank Crossley (one by his daughter), but gas engines are given either nil or the briefest of mention. Quite how the writers could seperate the man from his great life work is more than I can understand
08-12-2008, 06:59 AM
It’s sad that so little historical information is readily available about important companies like Crossley.
Here’s a view of Crossley’s Openshaw works in 1962:-
This is looking south down Pottery Lane. The people outside are frustrated at being too small to look through the windows. The building on the corner is shown on the 1905 map as an ‘Institute’, and the road going odd to the left is the west end of Whitworth Street. Continuing along there was Crossley’s works and yard, and then Clayton Lane South, immediately followed by the endless frontage of Armstrong-Whitworth’s works.
Here’s the former Crossley-Willys-Overland works at Heaton Chapel in 1930:-
The Manchester Council archive has a series of photos showing the demolition of the Pottery Lane works in 1994. Not very interesting, but there are a few shots inside the works, machinery gone:-
Looking at Google Maps’ satellite photo, quite a lot of the works is still there (now Rolls-Royce), and it looks as though the 1994 demolition just removed one bay, to allow the road to be widened so people could go shopping quicker, admiring the new of grass as they passed.
Talking of lost engine makers, I’ll offer this taster of a possible future topic, National Gas Engines of Ashton-under-Lyne, Manchester:-
A pair of 1000 HP engines running on Producer Gas at Accrington Generating Station, Lancashire, in 1913. Note the size of the man. These are 8-cylinder engines (four groups of tandem pairs).
08-12-2008, 05:36 PM
These photos show a National gas engine at the Bygones Museum, Basingstoke. Of course it wouldn’t have looked as smooth and shiny as this when it left the factory. Some might prefer to see equipment in its working clothes, but I was full of admiration for the unusually high standard of finish that the restorers have achieved on this and many other exhibits at the museum. There are plenty of ordinary restorations elsewhere for the purists, and ‘jewellery’ like these exhibits is more likely to attract the attention of laypersons.
This one is at the excellent Wheal Martyn china clay works museum in Cornwall. The belt drives a generator made by Newton Electrical in Taunton, Somerset. The reason I mention this is to bring in a tenuous link to Lancashire Dynamo & Crypto. Newton Electrical also produced automotive testing products, and this Division was taken over by Lancashire Dynamo, and renamed Crypton. I don’t know whether the N on the end of Crypton derives from Newton, but no matter. ‘Crypton Tuning’ signs were familiar sights to UK motorists, and the firm still has their HQ in Somerset.
Back to National: they merged with Mirrlees Diesels to become Mirrlees National, and some years ago the Ashton works was closed. The company was started by Harold Neild Bickerton who was formerly involved with Mirrlees, Bickerton & Day, and at some point I’ll post a photo of some of their engines here.
Ashton was about 6 miles due east of Manchester. If you were going to Crossley’s in Openshaw and fell asleep on the tram, you’d get to Ashton, so you could always buy your engine there instead.
Ashton is in an area called Tameside, the River Tame running through it, as does the River Goyt, and the Ashton Canal. Tameside has a good online archive of photos which includes over 70 featuring National Gas Engine Co., with many shop photos. Unfortunately I can’t link any photos directly, so if you’re interested, go to the site below and put national gas in the search box.
The works buildings, Wellington Works on Wellington Road still exist, in ‘multiple occupancy’, with some manufacturing going on there.
There’s a potted history of the company on this South African website:-
In post #58 I showed a photo of a 1500 HP vertical National engine. They made quite a number of these. Palmer’s Shipbuilding & Iron Co. at Jarrow had seven 1500 HP engines driving alternators and one 1000 HP engine driving a DC generator on blast furnace gas.
The 1000 HP engines at Accrington shown in the previous post ran on Producer Gas. This is a largely forgotten technology which is perhaps due for a comeback. Producer gas can be made from a wide variety of fuels, but coal dominated in the UK. Coal was fed in, and gas and various by-products came out. In the Accrington plant, the engine exhaust was used to produce steam in Joseph Adamson boilers, and this was used in the producer gas plant. The by-products, sulphate of ammonia and tar, were sold.
A write-up on the Accrington plant said that the alternator windings were specially impregnated to withstand the action of fumes from the gas plant. No mention of the operators in this respect! The engines could be ready to synchronise within 1¼ minutes of admitting starting air, which must have been a useful bonus.
Both National and Crossley supplied complete plant comprising gas production equipment (including all the filtration and scrubbing gubbins), down to quite small HP ratings. Another prominent firm in the Manchester area was Dowson & Mason of Levenshulme, who made producer gas plant. Mr Dowson was involved in the successful development of the system, and in fact producer gas was often called Dowson gas in the early days.
08-12-2008, 10:13 PM
Shortly after WW2 a sugar mill near Cairns, Queensland bought a small (10 ton?) 2' gauge Planet locomotive fitted with a National diesel engine. For some reason not known to me it was not considered satisfactory for this service, and was replaced after only a very few years use - something unusual for the millowner, who was not known for spending money without a very good reason. It was replaced by a 5LW Gardner which gave good service until the mid eighties, when the loco was stolen(!) from the shed after the engine sump had been drained for an oil change, and was found a mile or so from the mill whith a thoroughly seized engine. Even a Gardner could not survive this abuse, so the loco was scrapped.
The only other National diesel I am aware of in this part of the world was fitted to a fishing trawler, and was still in use about 20 years ago - I suppose it is long gone now though.
08-13-2008, 07:22 PM
Thanks for the information - always appreciated.
One thing about having a locomotive stolen from its shed, you don’t usually have to call in Sherlock Holmes to track it down.
I’m grateful to Peter S for putting me on to these links:-
Some nice photos of National engines in NZ, and links relating to the company.
An interesting site below about National engines, where I learned that the types of gas that National engines ran on included sewage gas. Now that‘s not something to be sniffed at.
Now, I did say I’d post some pictures of engines by Mirrlees, Bickerton & Day of Hazel Grove near Manchester. Here’s a start, a sculptury bit of a 1927 diesel, at Manchester Museum of Science & Industry:-
Last edited by Asquith; 08-14-2008 at 01:30 PM.
08-14-2008, 06:57 PM
Here’s a photo of some diesel engines on test at Mirrlees, Bickerton & Day’s works, c.1913:-
I won’t say any more about Mirrlees: reflecting on recent industrial vandalism make me very grumpy indeed.
Back to National Gas Engine, the link above is a rather nice photo of a trainload of engine parts outside the works. The locomotive would have been built just down the line at the GCR’s works at Gorton. About 500 of these locos were built during and after WW1 for the War Department’s Railway Operating Dept (R.O.D.), and they were a common sight where I lived in the early 1960s, slowly clanking along, usually with loads of coal or iron ore for Irlam steelworks. Some of these locomotives emigrated to perform the same duty in Australia and China, and several are preserved in Oz.
A photo of a large installation of National engines running on producer gas:-
Going back to Crossley Brotheres, I’m grateful to Peter S for drawing my attention to some quite large gas engines of the vis-à-vis type (arranged like BMW motorcycle engines). Here’s a picture of one:-
Here's a surviving one:-
08-15-2008, 02:02 PM
This thread has been aptly described by 'billmac' as putting together pieces of a jigsaw. I only have a selection of pieces, and was hoping that more might appear from elsewhere, and indeed they are, but mostly from far down under rather, than from Manchester.
Franco sent me some interesting information about some National engines in Oz, one of which has been fired up for the first time in many years, to start it walking on its journey to restoration. It’s a 5-cylinder diesel, 200 BHP @ 600 rpm, in a 108-ton Ransomes & Rapier walking dragline from the 1940s.
For what it’s worth, I’ll throw in this 1917 National advert:-
I’m also grateful to Peter S for pointing me to the Crossley book. There’s a nice photo of the erecting bays in the Pottery Lane works, which shows that despite the dark, forbidding exterior of these northern factories, the interiors were often clean and bright. The Crossley works looks very tidy, too. Two overhead cranes can be seen in the bay, these being driven by high speed ropes running along the walls. Each crane has its own ropes (on opposite walls), but it was possible to run several cranes of the same rope with this system.
Photographs in the book also reveal the purpose of the large hand wheel seen on the vis-à-vis engine in the last link in the previous post: the hand wheel shaft has a small pinion on the far end, which can be pushed into engagement with teeth on the flywheel for turning the flywheel.
Crossley established a separate works on Napier Street for constructing the plant to produce producer gas (to put it clumsily!). This was ½ mile south east of the main works, and the 1905 map shows it wedged into a triangle of land between the railway and Gorton Lane, along with a small chemical works, a school, and Franciscan Friary. The gas plant works later moved to Collyhurst, and Crossley Motors took over at Napier Street for car production. I see from the map that there was a ‘Horse Shoe Manufactory’ nearby. No doubt its workers were confident that the horseless carriage would never catch on. I wonder if they survived to see the car plant off (off to larger premises at Erwood Park, Heaton Chapel). By this time Napier Street had been renamed Crossley Street (it’s never a good idea to have your luxury car factory’s address containing a competitor’s name).
Here’s a 1917 advert for Crossley cars, looking forward to peace and prosperity:-
Numerous photos of Crossley vehicles on the Spanish site below, with some real oddballs including a very light tank ('Tankette'!), which might be OK for people living in a slightly rough area, a 1934 streamliner, and some Crossley-Bugattis:-
Earlier I mentioned that Clayton Lane South separated Crossley’s Pottery Lane works from Armstrong-Whitworth’s. If you headed north up Clayton Lane, after ½ mile you’d come to the works of another luxury car maker, Belsize. The 1905 map shows it located in a patch of more or less open land, with Shade Hall Farm a few hundred yards north. Things looked a bit different in 1929, as this aerial view shows:-
The Belsize works is right under the word ‘libraries’. Centre left is the works of Thomas Crabtree, with a rectangular reservoir. The rest is mostly the 'new' North Street steelworks of Armstrong-Whitworth (by then Vickers-Armstrong). The 1905 map shows the Crabtree works as ‘Clayton Dye Works’, with a bigger reservoir located just north of the rectangular one, and replaced in 1929 by what is probably a slag heap. The dye works was located on the meandering Clayton Brook, but spot that if you can.
08-15-2008, 03:57 PM
The post is getting most intriguing with the postings on the big gas & oil engines, I for one think that they are cool things, and sadly are as an item of engine generally much in the shade of the steam engine, in the eyes of most enthusiasts, I am most amazed that the science museum, gave No1 Mirrlees Diesel engine (first built in Britain) out on loan to an independant museum,Although fortunately this was to the Anson, who set a very high standard of care & conservation.
It would seem that the first Diesel engine builders outside of Germany, were Carel Freres of Ghent in Belgium & The mirrlees Watson & Yaryan Co of Scotland Street in Glasgow Builder ofthe Anson engine This engine it would i am told took its first "gasp" of air, all the way from Germany as its starting air bottles were charged up & sent over, I can imagine the old Glasgow engine fitters, gave a gasp of "pure" Glasgow air when she ticked over under her own power.
Sometimes i have wondered why after succesfully completing a few engines of this early pattern in Glasgow, production was switched to Hazel Grove, I would imagine it would be common sense, as the experience of gas engine building in the Manchester area was excellent, and somewhere i recall that Henry Nield Bickerton, and Charles Day, were shareholders in the Mirrlees Co also ?
When comparing the designs of the horizontal Nationals & the Crossleys, i always think the National looks the more robust looking of the two types ( i may be wrong)
For some years in the late 1970 period, i used to carry out repairs, on the last horizontal gas engine to operate in Glasgow, she was a Crossley, working in a small factory.
My own engine at home is a little two horse power model F National -- Makes me biased
The big opposed piston Crossley oil engine in the post looked a dream, Would the design parameters of that engine be based on engines built by the old Premier engine Co of Sandiacre in Cheshire, who built big opposed engines, and were as a company absorbed by Crossleys ? in the early 1900/s
Before Birmingham science museum, got revamped, they had a Dick Kerr gas engine, does anyone know in which Dick Kerr factory it would be constructed Preston or Kilmarnock ?
In the running of the big vertical enclosed gas engines, i wonder how filthy the crankcase oil would get, and would , like the early diesels require a Laval or Sharples centrifugal seperator running to keep the oil in order
08-15-2008, 06:26 PM
Asquith, you keep on nudging memories, my father in law served his time at Crossley as a coach trimmer in the 1930s, i remember hiw telling me that the Regis was built like a Rolls Royce, if the brain cell are right, the company ran for many years making omnibuses
08-15-2008, 06:49 PM
Some time ago I was demonstrating our museum’s Crossley diesel to a Dutch visitor, and he told me that he used to travel to school on Crossley buses. Apperently they got a big order from Holland after the war.
Your posts are always full of interesting information, and questions that I can’t answer. I wonder if Mr Bickerton lured Mirrlees to Hazel Grove - he put a lot of money into Mirrlees, Bickerton & Day.
Premier built some interesting engines, but I think Sandiacre is in John Stevenson country, Nottingham, rather than Cheshire, so I won’t pursue it too far in this thread! However, their big 4-cylinder opposed piston gas engine with a single crank looked very interesting, so I might have to sneak it in somewhere.
Talking of Nottingham, the industrial museum there has a vis-à-vis diesel engine made by Brush. That’s something you don’t see every day.
Going back to National gas engines, Peter S spotted an intriguing resemblance between their tandem vertical engines and those made by British Westinghouse in Trafford Park. Trafford Park quickly diverged from Pittsburgh practice in most or all activities, including gas engines. The Trafford Park tandem vertical engines were designed by W Stead and K R W Cox. Stead left British Westinghouse in 1909, and one wonders where he went.
Let’s have some snaps of the National engine in Manchester Museum of Science & Industry. With something that looks like this, you know it’s not going to fall apart when you get it home:-
08-15-2008, 10:06 PM
As far as I can tell from my books, Crossley began building the horizontally opposed (vis-a-vis) engines in 1893, these being in the range of 80-600 hp and up to 30 feet across with 8 foot flywheels. These engines were a great success and by 1903 were being exported all over the world, including USA, in sizes of over 1,000 hp.
Around 1890 Wells brothers produced the Premier range of gas engines in Sandiacre, Nottingham. Their early engines used stepped pistons, later they began building tandem engines for larger powers, by 1900 up to 650 hp. In 1902 they were building double tandem blast furnace gas engines, anything up to 2,000hp at 90 rpm. (This from A-Z of British Stationary Engines by Patrick Knight).
In 1898 the company name became the Premier Gas Engine Company. It was not until 1919 that Crossley aquired this company. It sounds like both companies were building large engines with a similar reputation for quality, and of similar design. According to the Crossley book, the company was purchased because of its product range, and also because of its technical design skill. In particular Premier had developed pressure scavenging of the exhaust, this developed by John Hamilton and Arthur Rollason.
Another of Hamiltons earlier innovations was the direct coupling of AC generators to slow speed gas engines without belt drives, the challenge being to smooth out shocks from intermittent firing as the governor cut in and out. Apparently belts could aggravate this problem.
Hamilton and Rollason (along with the five Wells brothers) were partners in the company, Hamilton became chief engineer in 1898 and managing director in 1899. His standing was such that when Crossley bought the company, he apparently negotiated to keep Premier as a seperate entity until he retired in 1935, at this time the company was renamed Crossley-Premier, and the products re-branded.
Crossley-Premier built some very impressive vis-a-vis engines. They were built 'open' or 'closed' and could run on gas or diesel fuel. In the Crossley book there is a photo of a 16 cylinder horizontally opposed engine of 3,000 hp at 214 rpm, weighing 140 tons, one of several supplied to Jerusalem Electricity in 1939. This engine was known as a OOS16, with pressure charging. Another photo shows a 2,100 hp RMO16, one of four used for pumping oil on a Middle eastern pipeline.
BTW, Crossley obtained a diesel licence in 1896 and built their first diesel in 1898. They had exhibited their first small oil engine in 1891.
Interesting question about the oil in those early gas engines. Here in NZ many cars were converted to run on CNG and LPG in the 1970's-80's, one of the characteristics of these engines was that the oil remained cleaner than when the same engine was run on petrol. Nevertheless, the oil change requirements remained much the same, i.e. the oil still contained unseen impurities (acids?) that were bad. I also recall there were special oils developed for these gas-fuelled engines.
I have a 1917 Lister that drove the shearing gear on the farm I grew up on. I wonder (and doubt) if engines like this ever had an oil change!
08-17-2008, 05:26 PM
Peter’s mention of Middle Eastern pumping stations struck a chord, and I went to my Dad’s wartime diaries. From hard times in Manchester, he volunteered for a period of travel and adventure at HM Government’s expense. He didn’t talk about the war, and I rely on his pocket diaries to give some indication of his experiences. He was a quiet man, kind and patient, and could make and mend anything. His diaries from 1940 to 1945 show a mixture of tedium, discomfort and great danger. He was in the Royal Engineers, and a Desert Rat. ‘Engineering’ seemed to cover everything from driving and maintaining vehicles to mending roads, demolition, and clearing minefields under fire.
His diary entries are short and to the point. During the evacuation from Greece, they were mining the bridges. ‘Bombing is now continuous. A constant stream of troops pass us on the way to the coast, and us going the opposite way with explosives’.
Anyway, to the point. In July 1941 he was in ‘Trans Jordan’ where his group were keeping pumping stations and power plants going, these being subject to rebel raids. In this strange, hot and inhospitable place, I wonder what he thought when he saw a brass plate bearing the words ‘Ashton-under-Lyne’?. He mentions doing a ‘minor overhaul’ on a National diesel 16 hour shift. Minor work included dealing with a seized piston by withdrawing the liner from the cylinder. The engine was pumping water by the following shift, but all was not well. No tea to drink - rations running short! He also mentions an infestation of scorpions. Later, he says that he had the surprise of his life, with the arrival of ‘RAF blokes with 1914 Rolls-Royce armoured cars, still as good as new’.
I hope this little glimpse of life for an ordinary Manchester lad in WW2 isn’t too far off topic. Next time, I’ll say a bit more about engines, and about gas, including a link to an amusing account of a gas engineer’s travails in WW2.
08-17-2008, 07:00 PM
Mac asked where the Dick, Kerr gas engines were made: Kilmarnock, according to Lyle Cummins in ‘Internal Fire’.
Back to the Manchester area. A couple more gas engine makers (in the Stockport area to be more specific, or the Reddish area to be even more specific): J E H Andrew was very early on the scene. Manchester industrial museum have a small Andrew Bisschop-type engine on display. Apparently this drove machinery for making wooden mangle rollers (I would hazard a wild guess that the driven machinery was lathes!).
Another Reddish gas engine maker was Furnivall & Co. Their main business was printing machinery and the like.
Going back to the Openshaw/Gorton area, I’ll offer these pictures of engines. Not very interesting, but they’re a bit different.
This is a Crossley Combined ‘Lightfoot’ dry air refrigerator and Otto gas engine. It might not look much like a fridge, but it was, so there. It could also provide hot water to heat the part of your premises that you're not cooling.
This is a steam-driven vacuum pump by Frank Pearn & Co of West Gorton. Apparently the works was ‘round the corner’ from Beyer-Peacock, but I haven’t pinpointed the location. I mentioned Mr Pearn's horizontal boring machine in post #121. I didn't mention his tapper, but I have now.
Now, here’s the gasman’s link I promised earlier. John Green went all over the place for Woodall-Duckham, but spent some time in the Manchester area. It’s a good read. Here are some extracts:-
‘There was also an assortment of foremen, including one Fred Atkin, an 'ironfighter', whose appearance suggested that he might have been knocked up quickly by Frankenstein as a rough prototype before hitting on the formula for a better-looking one.’
‘It was the custom in Lancashire towns for the women to be inordinately proud of their front doorsteps, which if not cleaned and raddled, betrayed idleness and called for censure. In Oldham this tradition extended also to pavement corresponding with the house's frontage. It was said in other parts that the Oldham women would black-lead the tramlines, given a chance. ‘
08-19-2008, 07:11 PM
I’m reluctant to leave the Openshaw/Gorton area. Not literally, but thread-wise.
I’m amazed at the range of prestigious engineering products that were made there and shipped far and wide. Locomotives and machine tools from Beyer-Peacock, engines and high class cars from Crossley, Large steam engines from George Saxon, steam hammers by B & S Massey, Electric motors from Laurence, Scott & Electromotors, pumps from Frank Pearn, steel, guns and machine tools from Vickers/Armstrong/Whitworth, and so on. I wonder if the residents of the small houses squeezed in between the factories felt proud when they saw raw materials coming in, and products going to places with exotic names, all thanks to the skills of themselves or their families or neighbours? Those far away places must have seemed particularly exotic to people who lived somewhere like this:-
One Openshaw firm I mentioned previously was Ashbury’s, makers of railway wagons (freight cars). I came across a reference to them getting an order to build 6000 railway wagons for the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal, to be delivered within 6 months. I also recall posting an item about a stunt they carried out in 1862, where they built a railway wagon from more or less RAW MATERIALS in 11 hours:-
Fast fabrication in freightcar factory
One factor in returning me to Openshaw was reading the latest copy of ‘Old Glory’ magazine. This has an article about steam rollers made towards the end of the era of such machines, by none other than Armstrong-Whitworth in Openshaw. Like this one:-
The article added a bit of flesh to the bones of my knowledge about the works, which is limited to that gleaned from maps and a few photos. It also adds a few names, and at this point I’ll digress (from what, you might wonder ).
Digression: Searching for something on Whitworth and Openshaw, I came across a genealogy forum which had a photo and information about a machine made by John Hetherington of Manchester. My pleasure was diminished when I found that the poster had lifted the picture and information from a PM thread (not this one) without acknowledging the source. This annoys me, not because I feel proprietorial about it, but because by not posting a link to the source, it’s preventing anyone finding out more or adding to the original thread, if they felt so inclined. Anyway, what interested me was that these threads can potentially help those interested in genealogy, for example with the location of a particular factory where their ancestors might have worked. It is especially likely to be helpful if names are included (as Peter S did with the Premier engine designers).
This takes me back to the Armstrong-Whitworth article. It mentions a Mr F Wightman, who didn’t actually work there, but was familiar with the place. As it happens, he’d served his time at George Saxon’s engine works in Openshaw, and later worked for Hick Hargreaves in Bolton and Beyer Peacock in Gorton. He mentioned that the A-W works employed 8000 people, the North Street works having Open Hearth furnaces and rolling mills, making forgings and plate (including armour plate and guns for A-W’s Elswick-on-Tyne shipyard), and machine and other tools. The Whitworth Street works machined the gun barrels and as well as making the steam rollers (and presumably a lot more besides, judging by the size of the place). Mr Wightman also said that the Government arms reduction act in 1927 led to the Whitworth St works closing, being demolished in the early 1930s, and noted that many machine tools were buried in the rubble. This is quite possible, as there would have been deep pits for the heavy machinery on that site.
There is also mention of Bessemer converters at this site, and sure enough there is still a Bessemer Street there today. This separated the high walls at the east end of A-W’s works from the high walls of the Great Central Railway’s engine and carriage sheds. Bessemer Street joins Whitworth Street in the north to Gorton Lane in the south, very close to Crossley’s car/gas plants.
The article mentions various employee’s names, including a Mr W Carroll, who’d been an apprentice boilermaker there. He mentioned that the steam rollers were assembled near the shrinking pit at the Clayton Lane end of the works. No doubt the shrinking pit was an impressive place. Such things were normally housed in tall buildings, tall enough to accommodate the crane that would lift the long vertical barrels from the furnace and lower them into the tank of oil. Wonder what the fumes smelt like? Did it put the neighbours off their fish and chips at lunch time?
I found these photos of Whitworth’s works in 1907 on the Manchester Council website:-
Perhaps someone can explain what’s going on with that long shaft at girder level.
A 1963 photo of Wood Street. This shows an entrance to the North Street works of English Steel, formerly Armstrong-Whitworth. I was intrigued by the railway line going down the middle of the street into the works. Looking at the 1905 map (before North St works was built and the south works closed), the street led right into an entrance of the south works (i.e. the former Whitworth works). The passage of a battleship's gun barrel from the forge to the machine shop would have certainly held the trams up on Ashton Old Road.
08-20-2008, 09:01 AM
Long shaft at girder level going up at angle from lathe-- Click, Click, Click, Click !
From swashplate on back of lathe to small oscillating shaft on bracket. -- back down to lathe to a woodpecker feed on the ratchet for a slide feed.on lathe, either in or longitudinal or feeding tool at an angle to axis of centres as turner required, Halcyon slower days, time for a chew of tobacco or puff of ones pipe, good photos, nice work not a cnc machine in sight one thing we cant see in the photos - PRIDE, it would be permeating the workforce at every level
08-20-2008, 09:18 AM
Well, Mac, that's bizarre! I've seen woodpecker feeds on old lathes, but they've always been self-contained. This seems to be a common system for all the machines, even though their workpieces will be running at different speeds. You live and learn, or at least live and wonder.