Treasure Trove Unlocked (Calderdale Industrial Museum)
Calderdale Industrial Museum in Halifax, Yorkshire, was mothballed some years ago due to financial strictures. Thanks to PM member 'Millwright' I was recently able to visit the museum when the Calderdale Industrial Museum Association arranged a special open day. Fortunately, there are plans afoot to re-open the museum, although not on a daily basis.
A great advantage is that the museum is right in the heart of bustling Halifax.
I will make the claim that West Yorkshire had more makers of machine tools and steam engines than any equivalent area in the rest of the world.
Calderdale is the name given to the valley though which the River Calder runs, and it has a proud history of manufacturing, particularly machinery, textiles and carpets. Sadly most of the manufacturers have gone, and the museum should play an important role making sure that its heritage is not forgotten.
It's not just about the past, though. It's about the present, too. We went to Halifax solely to see this museum. We went as tourists, and spent money in the town, as tourists. Unfortunately most British towns are now more or less interchangeable - the main shopping centres are dominated by the same shops. What gives them character is individual and quirky shops, architecture, culture, eating places. Halifax isn't overloaded with such amenities, which might draw in the jaded traveller. We did find good food and art in an unexpected place, though: the magnificent Dean Clough Mills, a massive former mill which has been rejuvenated. More of this later.
Right, I’ll start with the machine tools.
I hadn’t seen any of A. Howarth’s machines before. Made in nearby Sowerby Bridge (Millwright tells me it’s pronounced Sorby Bridge).
The planer behind is made by Butler of Halifax.
The Haworth lathe is typical of a type of British lathe design which persisted for many decades. Normally they were thrashed for many decades, too, but this one looks in excellent condition.
Three views of a travelling head shaper by A. Haworth Sons.
Lathe made in Halifax by Ö.. (help, Millwright)
Many thanks for opening the virtual doors to Calderdale Industrial Museum. I await with interest the displays to be featured and will supplement your excellent photos with specific details where required.
The centre lathe was made by J.Butler & Co. of Victoria Ironworks, Halifax. The Butler tradition in top quality machine tools is continued by Messrs Asquith Butler, still in Calderdale at the cutting edge(groan) of nuclear and defence industries.
The lathe dates from around 1900-1910 and was rebuilt to a condition better than new by the makers. Prior to it being donated for display, it was loaned to the museum and removed to machine tool exhibitions as & when. The crunch came when the museum moved to the present site and the workshop display situated in the basement. The opportunity then arose to set it up for lineshaft drive and the makers conceded this should be the final solution.
1899(?) Asquith radial arm drill. Ideally placed for visitors to study, tricky for taking snapshots.
Typical late 1800s Yorkshire drilling machine, made by ?. I call these 'harp frame' machines, but I donít know whether thereís a proper name.
Behind it is a slotter by John Stirk of Halifax.
A couple of beefy Stirk lathes were shown in another of my 'stealth' threads, post #4 here:-
Large Lathes Live on at Llanberis: Part 2 of Aspects of Welsh Slate Industry
More to follow, but the slowness of this site is trying my patience.
Oops, in my enthusiasm for seeing the machine tools featured thus far, I mistook the Butler lathe for this quite similar centre lathe built by Henry Holmes of Halifax which was an interesting rescue if my memory serves me well from Sandfield pumping station near Newmarket.
The basement display was assembled by myself whilst creating the Calderdale Industrial Museum. My starting point was to produce an interpretation of a typical workshop setting,belt driven from a locally used internal combustion engine. Having seen some examples of working machinery either shrouded in inappropriate guards or left static, I presented designs to both the Local Authority safety inspectors and the Factory Inspector who worked closely with me to achieve an authentic seting.
Iím afraid my photos wonít do justice to Millwrightís achievements in this excellent museum. I blame the realistic lighting levels
Is this the Butler lathe, Millwright?
Who made this radial arm drill?:-
Another Halifax product: a Carter & Wright keyseating machine.
Closer view of the 'works':-
Self-centering vice. Note adjustable stops for automatic reversal. Vertical feed uses a ratchet and screw.
The lathe bears a plate with a Sheffield address, I believe - factors rather than maker. Must check when I next have access to the Museum. Around 6" centre height. Treadle drive - the challenge treadling a machine this size and using the controls simultaneously is considerable. Much respect to the hardy users.
The radial drill was made by John Stirk, latterly known for large planing machines, alas no more. We used this drill when the modern repair shop machine wasn't up to it.........
Thanks again Asquith - makes me swell with Yorkshire pride!
High class Butlers
Butler planer. Butler always seem to go to a lot of trouble giving their machines a smooth finish. Very strokable. The smoothness extended to a real monster of a Butler planer that I recall at AEI Trafford Park, as well as to little shapers like this one at Calderdale:-
Letís see if a US machine will spark off any American interest
A Pratt & Whitney multi-spindle drill.
Don't worry, Baldwin - it was only used for drilling leather! Well, I think it was - it's in the leatherworking section of the museum.
Butler planer 8'x3'x3' electric 3 pulley drive: new I think in 1928 to Switchgear & Cowan ? Manchester and rescued from Messrs Humphrey, Horsedge electric works, Oldham. They made amongst other things magnetic tool lifters for planers. We machined up a lathe bed which after rebuilding was given as a retirement present to the gentleman who collected the first machine tools which formed part of the Calderdale collections. The belt screeching and table rumbling noises of this machine are magical.
The overarm shaper is an 8" toolroom Butler machine ex. Ferranti training school Hollinwood nr Manchester and donated by Mr Glyn Jones boatbuilder of Dinorwic, Wales
Thanks for the provenance, Millwright. Switchgear & Cowans were in Springfield Lane, Salford, a stone's throw from both William Muirís and Cunliffe & Croomís machine tool works. By way of balance, I happened to spot a very old Wm Muir travelling head shaper in store at Wortley Top Forge the day after we visited Calderdale Industrial Museum.
Moving to the museumís clothing department, a cloth-cutting band saw by John Pickles of Hebden Bridge:-
My wife and I stayed in a nice Bed & Breakfast place in Hebden Bridge for our trip to Yorkshire. Itís a nice little former mill town thatís 'reinvented itself'. As it happens, our B&B was about 100 yards from John Picklesí old iron works. No trace of it now, but its immediate neighbour, which was a clothing factory, has survived. Itís the big-windowed building here:-
The copper beech tree is in the yard of the newish building that replaced Picklesí ironworks.
Great visual tour as usual Asquith,Thank you.
Thanks very much for the great visual tours for armchair travelers.
I was always struck by the similarities between Brit machines of the 1850s and the few examples I've seen of Phoenix Iron Works of Hartford, CT.
Originally Posted by Asquith
It's like just before the American Civil war (or maybe because of it) the Americans branched off stylistically. Machines generally tended to be "simpler" after the Civil War and afterwards the cross connect of technological transfer seems it was cut off.
I think I've mentioned an 1850s no-name but thought Shepard, Lathe & Co. (Central Massachusetts) woodworking lathe of my ownership that appears to have BSW screws holding it together. In the 1850s I suspect a LOT of small tooling was simply brought in from England rather than being made domestically.
The Brits were that much ahead of us then either in quality or cost of production - or both.
After the Civil War the American juggernaut of the Industrial Revolution took flight - and then it was no holds barred.
Of course with a whole continent of natural resources waiting to be tapped, one might expect that. Abilities (both Brit and American) go where there's easy access to resource - and money to be made therefrom.
You raise interesting questions about screw threads.
I understand that Sellers’ threads were adopted as standard in 1868. What was happening in the USA before that? Was there a de facto standard?
Joseph Roe says 60 degree threads were in general use before the Sellers Standard. However, if Whitworth standards were also used in the US before the late 1860s, I can see that some firms would have carried on using them for several years afterwards, if they had a stock of taps and dies - or if they weren’t impressed by Sellers’ original sharp-cornered profile!
Beam Engine - maker unknown
Back to Calderdale, I spent some time admiring this beam engine, guided by Millwright.
Nice foundry work (apart from the beam, whose moulding is not up to the standard of the rest).
Nice work from the blacksmiths, machinists and fitters.
Note the unusual shape of the small bearings.
The empty hole was presumably for a pump?
Another neat bit of work.
Gab gear to disconnect the slide valve from the eccentricís influence. I donít understand the lever arrangement, though.
I like the dovetailed fit of the eccentric rod in the strap. Unusually(?) both the strap and eccentric are cast iron, I think.
Iíd only previously noticed bolted bedplates only on some small US engines on Smokstak, and didnít know why they needed to be bolted. In the case of this beam engine, Millwright suggested that it might allow more flexibility with foundry patterns of left or right hand engines were wanted.
Millwright pointed out this motor drive, to allow the engine to be demonstrated turning when steam isnít available.
I was working on a " Heald " ring grinder a while ago. The machine was from about 1940, could have been a lend-lease machine. It had 30" dia magnetic chuck made by " Humphrey's " of Oldham. I'm pretty sure they specialised in magnetic chucks both circular and rectangular. I seem to remember they closed down a year or two back. Regards Tyrone.
I looked on the Internet later and Humphreys still appear to be in business, sorry.
Last edited by Tyrone Shoelaces; 06-23-2012 at 03:55 AM.
Once again, thank you for sharing this with us.