STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 19 Nov 2018, 03:03

Nice thought P but there is no way that could have been done even with electricity and good plant which we didn't have. Also the heat of the steam played a big part in achieving the object. The danger wasn't from the pressure, I had inspected the boiler and the engine and pipework, all built to withstand at least twice that pressure. The danger was mechanical and once again, I had inspected. But even so it was high adventure! Bad enough starting something that size in daily use, it was the long period of stoppage that was the unknown factor.
Having a man with Newton's experience with me was a big bonus........
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 20 Nov 2018, 07:05

The second time we ran was less eventful of course because we had no dramas on starting or stopping. We ran it for about half and hour this time and almost put a polish on the rods. There was however, one thing different. When we came to light the boiler the day before, the chimney wouldn’t draw. In other words, there wasn’t enough natural draught on the flue to get hot gas drawn into the chimney and gain artificial draught due to the difference in temperature between the flue gasses in the chimney and the exterior air. Actually this isn’t quite accurate. The draught on a flue is the product of the difference in weight of the column of gas in the stack and the air outside. This difference in weight because the flue gas is hot reduces the atmospheric pressure in the furnace below the ambient pressure and it is this difference that drives air in to the furnace and supports combustion. The flue is under a disadvantage when you first start up with coal because the black smoke, loaded with carbon particles because of incomplete combustion, is heavier than clean air and so as it fills the stack you have to have quite a differential to get it lifted to the top. It worsens as the smoke cools in the cold stack. Even the forced draught fans won’t lift it and so extraordinary measures have to be taken. In Newton’s words, “You have to larn the chimbley to smook!”

To do this we opened a door in the main flue at the back of where the old economisers used to be and built a wood fire in there to further raise the temperature of the gas. After a few minutes you could feel the air being drawn into the chimney and the wood started to roar as it burned. At this point we shut the door, and shovelled some more coal in, we were away. Another point to mention is that at this time we didn’t have any automatic stokers, we had to fire by hand direct into the furnaces.

A couple of days after we had steamed the second time I was up on the chimney and there was a strong smell of sulphur. I asked Peter about it and he said he had noticed it since the second firing. We went down and opened the flue door and had a peep in, the whole of the flue was on fire, we had set fire to the flue dust which was actually partially burned coal. We shut the door and left it to it. There was nothing we could do, it wouldn’t do any harm and in the event it did a good job because it burned for three months and kept the flue dry all winter. It also reduced the level of dust in the flue to about a foot of proper flue dust on the floor. This was the industrial equivalent of mother sweeling the flue at Norris Avenue in my childhood!

While we are talking about flues I’d like to recount one incident that happened much later when I was running the engine each weekend for the public. We started doing this as soon as we had a viable engine, properly insured and this was before I had trained the volunteers so I ran the engine every weekend by myself for 18 months. I got it to a fine art and knew that if I got to Ellenroad at about four o’clock in the morning I could fire up, warm the engine and be ready to run at ten o’clock. It may sound strange but I often used to think as I drove over to Ellenroad first thing in the morning that it was nice to unique. I was the only man in the whole world setting off to run a 3,000 hp engine on my own. There must be thousands of people who would have given their eye teeth to be doing this.

On the particular morning this incident I want to describe happened it was very cold and foggy. I lit the fires as usual but had no draught and the products of combustion were blown back by the fans on the stokers into the boiler house. I knew I had to shut the stokers off and open the flue door at the bottom of the chimney in order to light a fire at the chimney base to get the column of air moving in the stack. There was no wind and when I opened the flue door the smoke fell out of the chimney and gathered in the yard like a big black pool! I’ve seen smoke fall from the top of the chimney down to the ground in similar conditions but I’d never seen it as bad as this. It intrigued me and I tried an experiment. I lit a piece of oil soaked rag and threw it into the smoke just to see what happened. There was no danger of explosion because it wasn’t confined. The rag was extinguished immediately it hit the smoke, there was no oxygen at all in the mixture.

Curiosity satisfied I waited until the smoke had run away along the ground and the chimney base was clear and then I hung an old raincoat soaked in diesel in the flue entrance, lit it and waited for a minute. It soon started to pull and was roaring away. I went into the boiler house, turned the stokers on and then went outside and shut the flue door. That did the trick and the draught soon built up to normal as the hot flue gases warmed the flue. The point about this story is that it shouldn’t have happened because a flue doesn’t normally lose it’s draught in a week, it takes much longer than that. In this case, I reckon it was my fault because I’d started a green fire on coal too soon, I should have burned wood or very small quantities of coal to keep the smoke down on starting. However, I was in a hurry and careless and what I’d done was try to get the chimney to lift heavy smoke, heavy enough to overcome the draught and literally choke the flue. I’d never seen this before and it just goes to show that we can always learn from our mistakes.

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Newton 'larning the chimbley to smook'.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 21 Nov 2018, 06:12

By the time this incident happened we had completely renewed the brickwork settings and flues round the boiler. I had taken the opportunity to put some of my own ideas into effect while we had it down and did things like incorporate sliding expansion joints in the side walls. Ten years later there is no sign of movement in these walls and I have never seen a boiler setting side wall that didn’t move when built in the conventional way. Another thing we did was pay particular attention to the sizing of the side flues. I made them as narrow as I possibly could and paid a lot of attention to sealing them against leakage. All this showed up when we first fired the boiler. We raised steam from cold to working pressure with only 30cwt of coal. I’ve never seen it done with less than four to five tons before. One reason for this that I worked out later was that because we had such a large chimney for a single boiler we had plenty of draught with the side flue dampers only open about four inches. Normally, with a cold boiler and flue the dampers have to be wide open to give enough draught to get a good fire going. If you think about it, the hottest, and therefore the most useful, gas is in the tops of the side flues. When the dampers are wide open this is all going to warm the flue. At Ellenroad with the dampers almost closed we were only allowing gas from the bottom of the flue to escape up the chimney, this was cold in comparison with the gas higher up and so the boiler ran more efficiently. None of the formulae in the old reference books take account of this and I really do think we discovered something significant about flueing a Lancashire boiler by these modifications at Ellenroad. That’s prime source industrial archaeology for you but unfortunately, by the time I worked it out the industry was dead!

While Gavin and his superiors at Coates digested my report they asked me to carry on working with Norman on the demolition of the mill. It was to be early in March before I got my next grilling about the engine so I’ll describe what Norman as up to. We have to talk about demolition and associated matters.

DEMOLITION AND CHIMNEY FELLING

Everybody, at some time or another, has seen men at work tearing a building down. The classic TV image of this is either the steel ball hitting the wall, the precisely shaped charges bringing down the redundant block of flats or the chimney slowly falling to the ground and breaking to pieces. These are spectacular images but very little to do with the day to day work of the demolition contractor. Ask most people what their definition of demolition is and they will say wrecking buildings, mine would be re-cycling the materials the building is constructed from. This definition states precisely what the contractor is doing and this is where he makes his money. Properly treated, there is a market, or at least a use, for everything in the building. We shall deal with the stages of demolishing Ellenroad Mill.

The first thing to be placed on site is the cabin, hook it up to water, electricity and sewage and you have the nerve centre ready to operate. You also have the place where you can get warm and brew up. A demolition site in February is one of the coldest places on earth.

The first people into the building are Norman’s sub-contractors, men who specialised in one particular aspect of the salvage of the mill. One gang will be lifting any clean flags, i.e. not oil soaked, and carefully loading them up and taking them away, these are more valuable than the scrap metal. Another lot will be lifting the maple floors and stripping out any other useful wood. A man who specialises in wiring and fittings will remove everything electrical which is useful, light and power fittings, switchboxes and motors. When all this is out of a floor Norman’s men move in and smash all the glass to discourage vagrants and encourage ventilation. At this stage Norman has a quick inspection and his men remove anything else of value like heavy copper cables, loose artefacts and furniture. I got him to save some of the fine woodwork and etched glass panels out of the board room. When all this is completed Norman moves in with a big tracked back hoe with a bucket on and demolishes all the exterior buildings around the mill.

Once these are down and everything is cleared away, he has access to the main structure all round and this is the point where he usually moved in with the crane with a 120ft jib and a thirty hundredweight steel ball on the end of the cable. This is used to smash the building down until all that is left is a pile of rubble. I had an amusing conversation with Norman one day when I asked him what happened if he took a swing at something and missed. Norman gravely informed me that if you got your ball wrapped round your jib it was a very serious matter! More tracked back hoes with buckets move into this heap of rubble and start to process the wreckage, removing all the cast iron pillars and steel girders. These are transported away to the scrap metal merchants and weighed in. This metal is the biggest return Norman will get and he has to be able to estimate what weight there is in a building very accurately in order to price a job. The rubble that was left was dumped in nearby land fill but nowadays things have changed, the tax on landfill is so high that it pays the contractor to import a large portable crusher and convert the irregular lumps of rubble into graded hard core which can be sold or used on site.

Norman told me that N&R were the first firm in the Manchester area to use back hoes to process buildings like this. Previously, the way metal was removed was to fasten a wire or a chain on to each piece and drag them out of the rubble. The back hoes were a far better tool but of course needed a greater investment. I never tired of watching John, one of Norman’s drivers, using the enormous Liebherr back hoe to extract girders, lay them on the ground, straighten them roughly by leaning on them with the bucket and then picking them up like straws and placing them in the trailers that took them to the scrap yard. I once asked John how accurate he was with the bucket and he drove a six inch nail into a timber with it! This bucket was big enough to hold a car! The power of the machines was awesome, N&R had a metal shear for the Liebherr and it could cut a girder eighteen inches deep just as easily as you or I could cut a thread with a pair of scissors.

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The N&R Liebherr 952 at Rishworth in 1987. Norman bought it to deal with Ellenroad and Big John, the operator, was an expert. I could watch him for hours. In the background is Norman's crane, the one he used with the 30cwt ball at Ellenroad. I never tired of watching him nibble away at the structure. I once asked him what the biggest danger was and he said that it was wrapping your ball round the jib. Now there's a little known fact for you!
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 22 Nov 2018, 05:31

In the case of Ellenroad there was another process to complete before Norman could move in with the ball. Part of the contract was that he had to demolish the mill in such a way that he didn’t damage the parts of the building we wanted to save. This was a major complication because, apart from the chimney, they were all integral with the main body of the mill. This was to be where the demolition credit evaporated away. Norman and I developed a strategy to deal with the problem. We decided that he would physically cut the connections between the main mill and the parts we wanted to save before dropping the mill with the ball. This was easier said than done as the integrity of the main structure depended in part on the integrity of the whole. We couldn’t just cut everything away, we had to leave enough connections to preserve the safety of the whole structure without risking damage to the parts we wanted to keep when the rest was dropped. This meant cutting down through the mill at all the points where the heritage part and the redundant structures met and cutting all the girder connections e4xcept for about an inch of the bottom web of each girder. Norman reckoned this would hold the main mill against wind stress but would tear when the girder was shifted during the demolition. In the event he was right. Remember that during all this there was a deadline in that the mill had to be dropped and the site cleared by March to give the building contractors a chance of getting the factory built in time for the November deadline.

The work went on in all weathers and thanks to Norman’s wonderful skill, he achieved his goal of dropping the mill without damaging the heritage bits. We reached a stage in late February where he had cleared the whole of the site and the rope race stood there like a playing card on end at the back of the engine house, gently swaying in the wind. That was my problem, the rope race was particularly valuable to us because it was the finest example left in England. Unfortunately the builders had never envisaged it standing on its own, it was designed as an integral part of the mill and the walls were only two bricks thick. It stood a hundred feet tall, sixty feet in depth and only fourteen feet wide. As the wind blew from the south west on the huge expanse of brick it swayed gently. I told Norman to get his crane up to it and I asked him to tap the wall with the steel ball. He did so and a ripple ran up the brickwork to the top and then down again to the bottom. A couple of loose bricks fell off and I lit my pipe and had a ponder. I was on top of the water tower at the time and Norman came up to me. “What are we going to do?” I had made my decision so I told him I didn’t know what he was going to do but I was going to the pub at Newhey to have a pint of Guinness and a beef sandwich. “When I come back I want that thing gone!”. Norman nodded, I went to the pub and half an hour later when I came back we hadn’t got a rope race.

I’d seen this coming and had plenty of time to think about it. My reasoning was that the only way we could make the rope race safe was to corset it in scaffolding. I reckoned we were looking at £350,000 to do this and stabilise the structure. This would have ripped the heart out of the project because we hadn’t any major funders at that point and what would any funder’s attitude be anyway to an emergency call for that amount of money. It wasn’t on and it had to go. In preparation I had got Norman to move the big alternator out of the bottom of the race before it became unsafe. I had done the best I could but we had lost one of the glories of the site. Apart from the physical space, we lost all the countershafts and the magnificent cast iron staircase that zigzagged up the back wall from the cellar to the roof. Nobody questioned the decision at any time. I think they were all glad they hadn’t had to make it. It was necessary but I was sad to have to do it.

With the rope race sorted, clearing of the site went on apace and Norman finished on time. I think Coates finished up owing him £5,000 so I was right about the short-term loan! Gavin was pissed off but even he appreciated watching a master at work. The strange thing about all this was that Norman was almost illiterate and innumerate. He could keep records in his own way but nobody else could read them. I went into the site hut one morning and he was sat there with the Financial Times. After a while I asked him whether he was checking on his shares and he said “No, I’m looking to see what news there is of the state of the St Lawrence Seaway.” Intrigued, I asked him why. He explained that he had a contract with Shepherds the scrap metal merchants to deliver 1,500 tons of metal at a certain price. After that he went on to market price. At the moment the market price was higher than the contract price so as soon as he filled the contract he went on to a better rate. However, he knew that there was a lot of scrap waiting on the shores of the Great Lakes and as soon as the ice melted in the St Lawrence and this metal moved on to the market, the price would fall. His strategy was to get on as fast as he could with sending the scrap in but keep an eye on the St Lawrence so he got notice of any change! Note, this was a man who, to all intents and purposes, couldn’t read or write!

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It was a great shame but the rope race had to go.....
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Bodger » 22 Nov 2018, 14:28

Interesting reading re water wheels
https://books.google.ie/books?id=aZ0run ... er&f=false

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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 23 Nov 2018, 02:54

The link wouldn't work for me Bodge....

There were a few funny stories during the demolition, once again, indulge me while I tell one or two of them. We had almost cleared the site and the only thing left standing was the southern toilet block which looked very forlorn particularly as it was emulating the leaning tower at Pisa, it was gradually moving out of plumb to the south! This was because now we had taken the weight of the mill off the site the ground was readjusting to the change in load and was rising slightly like a shallow dome where the mill used to be. The 90 feet high tower was on the outside edge and was being pushed over slowly. The reason why Norman had left it was because there was no plunder in it, it would all have to go down the tip. The Safety Officer from the building contractor turned up one day and noticed the lean. For some contractual reason he was in charge of safety on the site but had had the good sense to keep away while we were dropping the building. He now saw an opportunity to assert his authority and declared a no go zone around the offending object, nobody had to go within 150 ft of it. Norman nodded but said that gave him a problem, his jib was only 120 ft. so how was he to knock it down, throw bricks at it? The Safety man said that wasn’t his problem and left. I asked Norman what he was going to do, Norman winked and said “Knock the bugger down of course, we’ll tell him it fell over!” Twenty minutes later the tower had gone. Blokes like Norman are worth their weight in gold. I know we have to have regulations but a bit of flexibility and common sense could keep you on track when all the regulations were against you. He knew it and so did I, it was reprehensible acts like this that made the difference between success and failure.

Norman usually had a simple solution to most problems. When we first started on the mill some concerned passer-by got the RSPCA to call in to enquire about the welfare of the kestrels who were nesting behind the brick facia on the east end of the mill. Now I’m all in favour of being kind to animals but this was getting things out of proportion. Gavin thought so as well when he heard about it, he had a November deadline in mind. Apart from anything else it was far too early in the year for them to be laying eggs. I don’t know what Norman did but I noticed that shortly afterwards the kestrels had flit and were nesting on the top of the chimney! They moved from there when we started on the head and I don’t know where they finished up. I can’t remember whether it was at Ellenroad but I seem to remember a similar incident when a Robin nested in the jib of the crane. Norman reckoned that it didn’t mind the crane being used and carried on. He swore blind that it hatched its eggs but I have my doubts!

There was another small problem at the rear of the mill which reared its head after the main contract had finished. N&R had another contract to clear and fence the land at the back of the mill and raise a bund to give privacy and cut down on noise. The Ellenroad Company owned the land but over the years several home owners had encroached on it by building illegal garages. The Mill Company had informed them they would allow the encroachment but had taken steps to ensure that they could gain no rights in law so the garages had to go. All the owners agreed except one right under the back boundary wall of the mill. He was obdurate, it was his garage and he wasn’t going to shift it. Norman took all the necessary steps to warn him and give him notice to move his stuff but he was a stubborn man and held his ground.

The morning of VE Day 1985 dawned and an N&R low loader drew on the site carrying a Sherman Tank! Norman drove it off the trailer and approached the offending garage. By this time a small crowd had gathered and the man who owned the garage had come out to defend his property. Norman popped up through the turret of the tank and shouted at him, “Do you know what day it is?” No reply. “This is the fortieth anniversary of the surrender of the German forces in Europe. Do you know how we beat them?” Still no reply, “By a pincer movement! Look behind you!” The bloke looked round and saw the bucket of the new Liebherr back hoe descending on the roof of his garage. It crushed it completely and the poor bloke, defeated, slunk off into the house. I asked Norman why he had done it and he told me that apart from the crack he was going to a rally that weekend with his tank, he collected military vehicles as a hobby, and this was a good chance to try it out. Incidentally it also drew the man’s attention away from the garage so he couldn’t do anything stupid like take up residence. There was method in Norman’s madness. Norman had another hobby, he bred Pekinese dogs and a more surreal site than an eighteen stone demolition contractor cuddling a Pekinese I have yet to see!

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The tower in the foreground is the one that caused the problem.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Bodger » 23 Nov 2018, 07:58

Stanley, Stronger than a hundred Men "A history of the vertical water wheel" , Terry S Reynolds

https://books.google.ie/books?id=aZ0run ... en&f=false

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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 24 Nov 2018, 04:34

That's a good book Bodge, never seen it before. Well done for finding it. I like the reference to the Haltwhistle Roman wheel, that was the first example I ever found. I have ordered the book so you're to blame for it!

As you are probably beginning to realise, I had a lot of time for Norman Sutcliffe. He was a hard man to work for and cut a lot of corners but he was nothing if not able and I can always give a bloke space for that. He was also a great man for ‘The Crack’. No, we’re not talking about class A drugs here, we’re talking about humour, practical jokes and all the things that make a hard job pass a bit more comfortably. That’s right, you’re going to get a few Norman stories! All of them have one thing in common, there’s a strand of humour running through them somewhere. If there’s one thing that I miss in our modern world it’s the capacity of people to have a laugh, most people are so busy rushing round trying to make money that they’ve lost the capacity to extract humour out of everyday life. I’m not talking about leisure and entertainment here, but the humour of the work place. People like Norman, and others you’ll meet later on, had the gift of seeing the funny side even under very stressful conditions. Some manufactured the humour themselves.

Norman and his men were working on a small contract in the Todmorden Valley and they were having a bit of trouble with a bloke who insisted on parking his car in front of his house every day even though it was in the way of the wagons getting into Norman’s site. He kept asking him to move it but in the end decided to do something about it. The lads put some slings round the wheels of the car and Norman lifted it with the crane up on to ledge on the hillside where there were some allotments. Later that day the bloke went for his car and it didn’t take him long to realise not only that it wasn’t where he had parked it but that there was only one way it could have got where it was now. He went to Norman and complained bitterly but Norman told him he’d put it there out of harms way and he’d lift it down for him each night. They put it in front of his house for him later and the bloke never parked it in the way again.

.Norman had a bloke called Jim Barnes who used to do a lot of work with him. Jim lived with Sue, his wife, up at Crey Farm in Whitworth. The first time I ever saw Sue she was putting a new engine in Jim’s Bedford truck! Some woman! Jim was working for Norman down on a site they had cleared in Rawtenstall. They had almost finished and Jim was doing some final clearing up. Norman told him he had to go off for the rest of the day but a bloke would be coming down to have a look at a portable conveyor that was on the site. Norman said that the bloke would buy it and he wanted £750 for it. “Don’t let him take it until he’s given you a cheque!” and off he went. A while later, this bloke turned up and had a look at the elevator. “How much does Norman want for it?” Jim told him seven and a half. The bloke had another look, said it was OK and went off for his wagon to tow the conveyor away. When he came back he gave Jim the cheque which he stuffed in his shirt pocket while he helped hitch the conveyor up. After they had gone it dawned on Jim that he’d never looked at the cheque so he got it out of his pocket and got the shock of his life. It was made out for £7,500! Seven and a half isn’t accurate enough if you are buying something off someone like N&R! Norman never even gave Jim the price of a drink but he told me the tale afterwards because he thought it was funny.

The best laugh of the lot with Norman was when he died. It happened suddenly while he was demolishing a mill in Rochdale and we all gathered in Cliviger for the funeral. The church was packed, all the usual suspects were there. Just before the service started a coach turned up and about thirty Asians came into the church. The only seats left were in the choir stalls and so they all filed in there. I’ve never seen Asians at a funeral before and it says something about Norman that they turned up. We had the wake in the pub across the road from the church and it was the best blow-out I’ve ever seen. As one bloke said to me, there was only one thing wrong, Norman should have been there. I made a mental note to have my wake before I die. It’s a lot more fun that way!

One celebration Norman did attend was my 50th. birthday party at Overdale. I remember him going into the corner with Janet and getting her to write something in the birthday book they were making up for me because ‘he had left his glasses at home.’ I told Janet why he had done it afterwards and she said she thought it might be something like that. Someone came in during the party and asked who owned the Mercedes parked outside. It wasn’t that it was in the way, they had never seen a two door Mercedes with the 600 engine in it before. Trust Norman to have something different!

By this time, at Ellenroad, the contractors were on the site surveying. I went and had a word with them and asked how accurate their survey was. The bloke showed me their modern equipment and told me they didn’t expect more than a 5mm. error. I said that in that case they’d better check their levels carefully just before the building started because the ground was rising and their levels would be all to cock in a week. They did a check and found I was right, Gavin said I’d earned my wage just with that alone, he and Coates were pleased. Where the mill had been was a plain expanse of concrete, this was originally the cellar floor. I pointed out to Gavin that each pillar base was ten feet square and went down fifteen feet into the ground. They had better mark them before they levelled the site and route any pipe tracks or drains between them. Once again, I got brownie points. Gavin said I had saved them about £7,500.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 25 Nov 2018, 06:14

As we’re talking about demolition I want a quick word now about chimney felling. Ellenroad chimney wasn’t to be felled of course but in the normal demolition job, they have to be dealt with. Chimneys are only felled when there is room to do it safely. In many cases, such as Swabs at Middleton which was right next to the main road, they have to be dropped brick by brick and this is very expensive. Felling is much cheaper and is always done wherever possible. There are three main ways of felling a chimney. Peter Tatham’s preferred method on a secure site was to mark the centre line on the line where he wanted the chimney to fall, mark a point to each side that he thought they could cut to without the chimney toppling and then start to cut the brickwork out each side, propping with light props where necessary to stop the brickwork above the cut forming an invert and falling on the workers and then cut away until the chimney became unstable. At this point it will start to rock in the wind and a crack will open up at the back. A small piece of wood is inserted in the crack and cutting re-commenced. A man stands at the back watching the tell-tale and as soon as it starts to move, blows a whistle and everyone gets out of the way. The chimney falls and the job is done. This is a lot safer than it sounds if done by skilled men as the stack moves very slowly at first. The only drawback to it is that you can’t forecast accurately when the stack will fall.

Another method, favoured by Fred Dibnah, the TV steeplejack, is to cut away the bricks but fill the gap with heavy wooden props wedged firmly into place. When the crack opens at the back you carry on cutting until you are sure you are past the point of no return. At this point you stop and build a fire against the wooden props. The natural draught on the chimney turns this into a blow torch and drags all the flame on to the props and up the flue. After a short time they are so weakened that the chimney falls. With luck, you can predict the timing of this fall reasonably accurately and so it is a good thing if you are a showman. The problem that can arise is that if you haven’t cut enough out the stack won’t fall. When Ronny Goggins dropped Jubilee mill chimney he made an error and the fire burned out but the chimney didn’t fall. Very embarrassing. They had to wait for the wind to change and that brought it down. The thing that caused this was that the firebrick liner was in a lot better condition than anybody thought and was taking the weight.

The last and most certain method is to drill the base, insert charges and blow the bottom out of the structure. In skilled hands this is the most controllable method of all but great care has to be taken to get the right weight of charge in the right place. Dee Mill chimney was dropped by Mervin Simpson from Heywood very neatly by this method but when the same method was used by another contractor on the redundant cooling towers at Halifax Power Station around this time he got it wrong and all he did was make them ten feet shorter and very unstable. N&R were called in to clear this one up!

I photographed many chimney fellings both for myself and the DOE. One of these was by Fred Dibnah at Moss Mill in Rochdale. I was seen on the programme as I did the pictures of Fred going about his business for the DOE. Years later in Dordrecht in Holland, a friend of mine and myself went to buy a birdcage in an antique shop and the lady said “I have seen you on television!” I told her she was mistaken but she described the chimney coming down and I realised she must have seen the Fred Dibnah programme!

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Moss stack coming down at Rochdale. If you look carefully you will see a figure crouching behind the large skip. This was Fred, he had decided to see the fall from a different angle. As the stack hit the ground it threw a shower of bricks well beyond the skip and Fred had a very lucky escape.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 26 Nov 2018, 04:40

By the end of March construction was in full swing on the site at Ellenroad building the new factory. I was needed occasionally for esoteric questions about the drainage etc. but otherwise I was able to attend to the Engine House. There was one matter which straddled the two really. I found out who had the plans of the coal mines in the area and got them for the site. The whole of the ground under the surrounding area and the large motorway junction was riddled with mine workings at a depth of about 500 ft. These were full of water and indeed, were used by the local water authority as a supply of drinking water. However, under the mill buildings themselves there was a solid pillar of coal left untouched. We weren’t going to suffer from subsidence even if everybody else did!

MANAGEMENT AND OTHER MATTERS
By March 1985 my report was with Coates and they were about to give me their decision. I had been told unofficially that they wanted me to go ahead. It was time to stop goofing about. I had to get down to actually making Ellenroad happen. This process started when I had a visitor on site one day, a man called John Youngman, Chairman of Coates Brothers and husband of Phyllida who was a major stockholder in the company. John was, to say the least, impressive. He had the same effect on me as my headmaster at Stockport Grammar School. He’ll laugh if he reads this but it’s true. He asked me a direct question, “How much will it cost to support you and your work for a year?” I did a quick sum, these buggers never gave you time to think! £50,000. There was a short silence and then John said “Right, get on with it. Sort the details out with Gavin.” That was it, I had the project, a year’s funding and a clean slate. Double Yippee!

This was the point where the real learning curve started. I had never done anything on this scale before and there was so much I didn’t know. However, I had a certain amount of common sense and was never afraid of saying “I don’t know.” or asking for help. Gavin had taken note of my original plan and we soon had a Steering Committee set up with equal representation from the Council, Coates and the Funders, in this case, English Heritage. The chair of the Steering Committee was John Pierce, the Planning Officer. He was later to become Chief Executive of the Council and proved to be a rock. John believed in Ellenroad from the start and, once we had the initial funding, if there was any one input which made the difference between success and failure, it was his. He never ever let me down, always gave good advice and we are still firm friends.

I’m not going to try to tell the story of the project in detail, it would take far longer than we have time for. I’ll just lay out the major steps and tell a few of the stories that cropped up along the way. Assume for the purposes of this narrative that for the first twelve months I was flying blind and it was only good friends, good luck and wall of death management that saved me. To my credit, I had got the structure of the project right in the first place and never deviated from that in the next eight years.

Before I start I want to give my view of how it all happened in the first place. I was never told but I am sure that I wasn’t the first to have a look at the possibility of saving Ellenroad and doing something with it. It was too big not to have been the subject of discussion. I think that the size of it had put everybody off and that unofficially the view was that it was Mission Impossible. Then, suddenly, this bloke crawls out of the woodwork, has the confidence of Coates, a track record in the field and wants to take on the whole thing at virtually no cost to the Council. I should imagine the attitude was “What have we got to lose?” I was given my head and found my feet before the Trust did. Because of this lead, I had enough sense to lay down the principle that there cannot be ultimate responsibility without absolute power. I demanded both and it was in everybody’s interest to give it to me. I even had an imprest account, topped up every month and I could spend £500 without reference to anyone. All I had to do was account for the spending at the end of every month. I never abused this privilege and there was never a single question about any expenditure by this route. I have always said that nobody ever again will have so much autonomy and actual spending power when dealing with a project like this. I was very lucky and they got a good result.

Another power I had which was very useful was ‘virement’, this is a legal term which has roots in Norman French and what it means is the ability to swap funds from one account heading to another. This is the single most important power that someone in my position could have had. I will admit now that some of the funding moved about the accounts so quickly that only I knew exactly what was allocated where. I can assure everyone that I never overstepped the line but will admit there were times when I was tempted and got very close to impropriety. The protection here, for me as well as for the Trust was the annual audit by KPMG, one of the best accountancy firms available. I had insisted we have someone of this calibre even though they were so expensive. Apart from anything else it gave funders added confidence when they saw who was doing our books. You would be amazed at how long it took to get it through to some of the directors that we needed a top class firm of accountants, not some half qualified clerk in a back street in Milnrow!

I can’t say what the first thing I did was because there were so many things going on at once so what follows will be simply a list. I got English Heritage on board and started the process of actually Scheduling the Engine House as an Ancient Monument. This gave it a legal status which aided protection but more importantly opened up areas of possible funding both governmental and private. I talked to department in the council, Community Projects, which managed Manpower Services schemes in the borough. I started to look for an architect. I drew up a Memorandum and Articles of Association for the trust, I based this on my experiences at Pendle Heritage, there was no way I was going to tie a noose for my own neck! I also had to start planning three years ahead because until I had projects and costs I couldn’t raise funds and I needed to get on with this so as to have funding in place at the end of the year when the initial Coates funding finished. In short, there was a mountain of work to do.

Getting a relationship going with English Heritage was the first thing as I needed to get funding in place for major repairs like making the engine house secure and waterproof. The first expenditure from this source was an asbestos clearance carried out by N&R. What was at one time seen as cheap and effective insulating material was now regarded, quite rightly, as a deadly poison and the engine house was full of it. N&R undertook to clear it all out before we put any workers in there. I got a Manpower Services scheme in place which gave me forty workers, two foremen and a manager. There was supporting funding for materials and tools with this so we could start doing work straight away. The first manager was Peter Cunningham and I remember when he first came to the site to look at the size of the rabbit. We walked round and I showed him some of the jobs we had to do and he went quieter and quieter. We got into the site hut and brewed up and I asked him what he thought. He told me it frightened him to death! I agreed with him and said I felt the same but if we just started and quietly nibbled our way into the cheese there wasn’t anything we couldn’t do. If it got beyond the skills available we would have to get contractors in. He cheered up a bit, set to and was a good man for me until he moved on to another job and Graham Riley took over.

Finding an architect proved to be a bit more difficult, I was pointed at a couple of candidates one local and one from Preston but wasn’t impressed. Then, by chance I heard about a firm called Cooper and Jackson. I can’t remember how this came about but somebody did me a good turn. I made an appointment, went to see a bloke called Peter Dawson and all my problems were solved. In terms of individual contribution, Peter Dawson was the best man we had on the construction side. He did his job well and in all the time we worked together and all the contracts we set on there wasn’t one mistake. Needless to say, I am still talking to Peter ten years later!

I got my version of the legal side of the trust together and dropped it in the lap of the deputy Town Clerk, David Shipp who was a lawyer. He sorted out my legalese and approved the Articles of Agreement. We decided on a panel of members and set up the Trust to replace the Steering Committee. Then I had to apply for charitable status and I remember being pleasantly surprised how easy it was.

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Peter Dawson in his shed at Todmorden, he was by trade a carpenter, not an architect and was also a very good wood turner! No wonder he was such a sensible architect.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 27 Nov 2018, 06:46

Six months in we had a site which was well-organised, humming with activity and beginning to take shape. I had a local builder re-roofing the place, temporary closures in the windows and a scheme of work in place to keep us going for several years. The site was clear of asbestos. As Ellenroad got going so did Coates. They got the factory built and hit their target of production by November so there was great rejoicing all round. At this point I started to hear ugly rumours about John Youngman’s position as regards the funding for the first year. The story I heard was that he had agreed to the funding unilaterally, this was a public company remember, and every time the matter was raised by the board he claimed ‘Chairman’s Folly’ and refused to discuss it until there was news to report. Gavin told me that the best possible outcome would be if we could come up with the funding to buy the lease on the engine house before the Annual Meeting. I forget all the details but we were talking a lot of money, anyway, I found it and on the day when everyone expected the shit to hit the fan John stood up and announced that there was a problem with the engine house at Ellenroad. Gavin tells me that it was a fairly dramatic moment as John had his critics. John announced that the company auditors had advised him that unless they made an immediate donation of £10,000 to the Trust, Coates would have to pay tax on the capital gains from the sale of the lease of the engine house. The donation was voted through and John came out as clean as a whistle!

This would be round about March 1986. A lot of these dates will be approximate because all the documents dealing with this period are in the files of Ellenroad so I have to rely on memory. Standing back and making an assessment from the vantage point of 1999 I can truthfully say that I am amazed how well I did. As father said, there’s a providence looks after drunken men and idiots. It was working full time then and doing a bloody good job.

I think that we have the major side issues out of the way now. We are at March 1986, the Trust has been formed and is about to achieve Charitable Status. I’ve started the funding drive and we have an MSC team working on the site and actually getting things done. I’m travelling to Rochdale almost every day and working in the evenings on the paperwork. Life is very full and rewarding and I’m learning so much so fast that it’s hard to believe from this point in time that I could have taken it all in. I was doing all right, but there was still a lot to learn!
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 28 Nov 2018, 06:25

ELLENROAD: THE MECHANICALS

I’ve decided that the only way I shall make any sense out of Ellenroad, and keep this narrative to a reasonable length, is to describe what we did there into broad themes and allow the chronology to overlap. I’ll try to keep this section to the mechanical elements of the puzzle I was faced with. Other matters will creep in of course and I might even dredge up the odd story or two!

If you were to ask most enthusiasts what the most important element of Ellenroad was I suppose they would say the engine. This is as good a place as any to nail my colours to the mast. I am not a steam enthusiast and if you want to insult me, keep calling me one, I guarantee you will get a reaction. This is not to say that I hate them, this would be equally unacceptable to me. I suppose the best way to describe my feelings about engines is that I respect them as machines and understand what their significance is. When I look at Ellenroad engine I don’t just see 300 tons of iron skilfully shaped into a functioning machine, I look down a vista in time, opened up by the engine and populated by all the people who used its power to build their world. In this view, the little spinner on the top floor working to build up her bottom drawer before marriage is just as important as Emanuel Clegg, one of the original investors in the mill. My reason for saving Ellenroad was that we needed to make sure that the opportunity to understand that vista was preserved for those who could see it. Having made that decision, the only way to use the engine is to blow people’s minds and in order to do that it needs to be running in steam. I made this very clear to the Directors as soon as the Trust was formed. I told them that my mission was to do just that and anything else I did at Ellenroad was a bonus.

The basic elements of the mechanicals at Ellenroad were the boiler, the engine and the ancillary plant.

The boiler was basically in as good condition as when it was installed in 1919 when the engine was upgraded to a double tandem and the power raised from 1800hp to 2,500hp. The boiler had to be stripped to its shell and all the fittings refurbished. The settings were in poor condition so we had to jack the boiler up and support it and then remove all the brickwork from around and underneath it and replace the lot. Just at this time MacAlpines, the big road contractors had a contract to install a fourth lane on the M62 up to Rockingstones. They needed a base camp for the works and I persuaded Coates to let me allow them to use the field in between the engine house and the motorway. In payment, they supplied all the refractory brick we needed and allowed us to clear the site after they had finished. I got enough reinforcing bar to do all the foundations for the new back wall of the engine house when we came to do it and literally tons of assorted timber, site huts, bricks and mesh reinforcement. There were enough refractory bricks to repair the main flue as well. The MSC team did all the work except for the refurb of the boiler fittings, I did those myself in my workshop in the garage at Addingham.

When we took over the boiler was fitted with Bennis shovel stokers which were obsolete both in terms of spares and combustion efficiency. Funnily enough this gave us a useful lever with Bennis Combustion because there was still one set of these stokers running in Ireland. They had destroyed all the patterns and when the Irish company wanted spares, Bennis sent a fitter over to Ellenroad who removed the part they needed to supply and took it back so that they could make a pattern off it. When they had done they returned our part. This meant that when we needed to install new stokers, Bennis did it for nothing and saved us thousands of pounds.

The only way we could get away with the smoke regulations and fire economically was to fit underfired stokers. This was a problem until I heard that Oldham Royal Hospital was to be demolished. I had a word with the area engineer and in return for some help with labour the Health Authority gave us permission to gut the boiler house and take anything we wanted. I put a gang in there and we took everything except the boilers, the building and the asbestos! This provided our stokers and all the pumps and other spares we needed. Installation was no problem as I have said already, Bennis moved in and installed them for nothing.

When we rebuilt the wall which framed the front of the boilers I got Norman Sutcliffe to give us the front five feet of a boiler he was scrapping at Jubilee Mill in Padiham. He transported it across free and we installed it in the new front wall we had built and from the front it looked like another Lancashire boiler. We shifted the old Bennis shovel stokers on to the front of this dummy boiler so that people could see how it looked originally. From the back, visitors could see inside the dummy and appreciate how boilers were constructed.

We installed completely new electric feed pumps backed up by a Weir steam pump, installed a feed water tank and re-piped the whole of the water and steam mains all the way to the engine including new control valves and safety arrangements. The boiler was fitted with full automatic controls which governed feed water, firing, steam pressure and all modern safety measures to shut the plant down in case of any dangerous circumstances. We left the original feedwater arrangements in place in the pump house so that we could use these as a separate exhibit.

The final stage of the work on the boiler was to have it insured. We went back to the original insurers National Vulcan and their surveyor Allan Roberts kept an eye on our progress throughout the re-seating of the boiler. He was an ex-marine engineer and was completely at home with riveted vessels and the plant at Ellenroad. When we eventually finished the work he supervised the hydraulic testing of the boiler during which we filled it completely with water and pressurised it to 150% of its designed working pressure plus ten pounds, a total pressure of 280psi. We then steamed the boiler for him and demonstrated that all the safety measures were in order. We set the safety valve to blow at 60psi as I calculated that was all the pressure we would ever need to run the engine. The boiler and its associated plant passed all the tests and was fully insured for its original working pressure when new.

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The hydraulic test to the same standard as when the boiler was new.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 29 Nov 2018, 06:23

There was very little needed doing to the engine itself. There were only four bearing brasses missing and Newton made these for us and fitted them. All the brass lubricators were still on the engine apart from the two largest which fed oil to the crank pins. These and the banjo oilers that carried the oil to the cranks while the engine was running were missing. I refurbished all the lubricators, including the Kirkham’s high pressure cylinder lubricators and whilst visiting John Kirkham in Bolton I asked him whether he had any patterns for large lubricators. He had so I asked him to do three sets of castings for us. A few weeks later, when they were ready for collection I asked if he could make them up for us but he said that all his brass-turners who had the necessary skills had retired so Newton and I decided to make one apiece to save time. We each made one and I remember we kept track of the hours we spent, Newton did his in 22 hours and mine took 26. I reckoned up the present day cost of making these and it was in the order of £800 for each lubricator if all the current prices had been paid and a profit put on them. As it was, I paid Newton a nominal sum, I did mine for nothing and John sold us the castings at cost. I suppose the cost of the two was below £150.

The only other items that were missing were the name plates off the engine. There was a mystery about these because there were two conflicting reports of the names. One report said “Victoria” and “Albert”, but the original report of the engine first starting in 1892 said “Victoria “ and “Alexandra”. After a bit of investigation I found where one of the original plates was, it had been stolen and the only way I could get a look at it was to promise I would keep my mouth shut. My main interest was to get the dimensions and design of the plates right, I wasn’t really bothered about recovering one worn plate and anyway, it was in a surprising place and there was the potential for a lot of embarrassment if knowledge of where it was had become public. I took the original to a pattern maker in Keighley and he made two patterns, one for Victoria and the other for Alexandra. I got the plates cast at Naylors in Pitt Street at Keighley who did all my small casting jobs but who have since gone the way of most of these small firms. I finished them at home and fitted them to the engine and everyone agreed that even though it was a small task, it was a giant leap forward in terms of the looks of the engine.

[Added August 7th 2005: The old chestnut about the names of the engines cropped up again. Here’s what I told the Trust.   The engines were christened with the names they have now.  There is a report of the naming ceremony.  Despite this, I still got flak about the names.  I first knew the truth when I heard that an old mate of mine in Rochdale knew where the original plate was .  It had been stolen and he wouldn't tell me where it was but went and borrowed it for me.  Later, when I had more time I researched it properly and found a report in the McNaught archive on job number 873 dated Jan 1st 1891 which was the original specification for the engine.  The description is annotated with the following;  "Engines run on May 9th 1892"  "Name plates Victoria and Alexandra.  Christened May 21st 1892". There were still people who didn't believe it, evidently there are some about now.  They have seen one piece of evidence and ignore everything else.  If they were to use their heads they would realise that Albert was dead in 1892 but Victoria was still alive.  Alexandra was the next queen, so it was named for the present and future queen.]

The biggest task was cleaning the engine. We set a gang of lads on to this and for two years we had an average of four men a day working full time on this. They did a wonderful job without using any harsh abrasives and by the time we came to run even the old engineer couldn’t have found much fault. All we did to the pilot engine in the generating house at this point was clean it up.

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The pilot engine later when we had cleaned it up and it was a runner.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 30 Nov 2018, 05:11

I was very conscious that the engine was potentially very dangerous even at the reduced pressures we would be using. The attitude of almost all the official bodies was that the way to make the engines safer was to run them at reduced speed but I never agreed to this. Apart from the logic of the matter there is nothing looks worse than an engine labouring at half speed when what you really want to show the clients is it running exactly how it did when it was powering the mill. I have argued this case with every engine I have ever refurbished and have always ended up running at the correct speed. The reason for this is that when the logic is explained properly to the authorities governing the decision like the insurance company and the Health and Safety Executive, they will always agree.

My case was that the original engineers had picked what they regarded as the optimum safe speed for the design of the engine and who were we to argue. It got slightly more technical than that, I had to demonstrate that if you did two curves on a graph, one for the torque going into the crank and one for the centrifugal force in the flywheel the point where they crossed was near enough to the original running speed. In other words, this was the point where the engine was under least stress. It took a bit of salesmanship but the case was good and the authorities agreed. Where I went further than any regulatory requirements at Ellenroad was that I persuaded a firm who specialised in computerised controls to design a system for the Ellenroad Engines that monitored the key parameters constantly while the engine was running and if any slipped outside acceptable values, shut the engine down and broke the vacuum. All this was installed and only needed commissioning but I could never get the funding to complete it. Eight years later as I write this the present management still sits on a state of the art system and hasn’t done anything about it.

Part of the safety installation was a modern stop valve in the new steam main to the engine. I made a temporary stanchion and valve handle in order to get us going but always intended making a proper one as soon as I could get the castings. I looked for these for about three years and was always on the look out for something I could use that would be in keeping with the rest of the engine. I was in Naylor’s yard at Keighley one day when I noticed something in the scrap pile of the engineering shop next door. It was a casting for a valve wheel stanchion that was exactly right for Ellenroad. I got some odd castings made for the small parts and took great pleasure in making a handwheel and valve stanchion that was a perfect match for the engine house.

The only other big problem was the fact that the Health and Safety wanted the engine fencing completely so that the public couldn’t touch it. This looked like a big and expensive problem but in the end the solution was suggested by Peter Dawson and was surprisingly simple and efficient. We bought the same type of railing which is used to stop pedestrians crossing the road, installed it and painted it black and then got Boholt Fine Joinery from Oldham to come in and cap it with a magnificent mahogany banister rail. I was surprised then and still am how unobtrusive this is.

The water resource, the weir and cloughs behind the engine house, was in basically good condition but overgrown. I had a word with the North West Water at Warrington and persuaded them that it would be a good flood prevention measure to clean out the River Beal at this point. They agreed, sent in a dragline and a gang of men and cleaned up the river for us. We put an MSC gang on to revetting the banks around the cloughs and weir and finished up with a very tidy and functional water resource.

Finally, we replaced the alternator in the bottom of what was left of the rope race ready for coupling it up to the engine if this was ever needed.

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The river board dredging the river Beal in 1986.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Bodger » 30 Nov 2018, 07:13

Was there ever an "automatic steam engine" https://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/a ... ne-357671/

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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 30 Nov 2018, 07:34

Interesting Bodge, I have never come across this before but there was an 'automatic' engine that was far more common. This was the one that could be fitted on the gear that drove the mechanism that kept the chains that moved the scrapers up and down the tubes in constant motion. Once it was started it would run unattended until stopped and usually got lubricated twice a day, once on start-up and once during the day. It wasn't quite automatic as it had to be started and stopped manually.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 01 Dec 2018, 05:07

I suppose heating comes under the mechanicals. There isn’t usually any heating in an engine house because when the engine is in steam it provides all the heat that is needed. What we wanted to do was provide frost protection for the building and plant. I got a heating engineer in and all sorts of expensive solutions were mooted and costed. In the end I realise we had to do something imaginative so I went out and bought a 3KW electric fan heater, mounted it in the cellar, wired it to the mains and we simply switched it on in September and left it running until March! It did all we wanted and frost was never a problem.


THE BUILDINGS

The structures associated with the engine were the most expensive items in the whole of the refurbishment. Starting with the roof and working down we re-slated the whole roof, lifted the copings and replaced them on a waterproof membrane. The boiler house roof was more complicated. We dismantled the existing wrought iron and glass skylights and completely rebuilt them, MSC labour did all this. The roof itself was stripped and the asphalt covering completely replaced by a contractor.

The whole of the building was pointed, all new window frames and glass fitted and the structure injected to guard against dry and wet rot. The roof space over the engine house was cleaned out and all timbers affected by rot replaced then the whole was treated chemically against any recurrence.

The back wall of the rope race was completely missing after the demolition and the engine house open to the weather. Initially we installed a temporary closure of plastic corrugated sheeting but eventually bricked the whole of the rear of the engine house to tidy up the demolition scars and render it weatherproof. This wall was sixty feet high and a massive job.

There’s a story connected with the wall. I always tried to use local firms and in this case we set a local builder, Fred Baumer on to do the wall. We left him alone and let him do it at his own pace and eventually we had a good wall. Ten years later, my daughter in Perth, Western Australia was supervising the building of three houses on a piece of land she and her husband had bought in Scarborough Beach. She was talking to her bricklayer one day and he said “Do you come from Barrowford?” Surprised, Janet said “No, but you’re close, it’s Barnoldswick actually.” He said “That’s funny, I used to know a bloke from Barnoldswick, he gave me and my dad the job of building a wall sixty feet high.” Janet said “That would be at Ellenroad.” The brickie was amazed and asked her how she knew, “It was my dad!” The Random Improbability Factor had struck again! The brickie was Fred Baumer’s son Harold who had migrated to Australia.

We replaced all five of the steel roller shutters on the boiler house and installed a new main door into the engine house passage. Inside the boiler house we replaced all the foundations under the cast iron pillars supporting the roof and put three new pillars in to replace some which had been original steel girders but which had corroded. In the engine house cellar we cleared all the rubbish out and replaced any brickwork that had deteriorated. In the course of this we found a void in the foundations that when we cleared it out, made a large and very useful store room.

The site of the old economisers was a mess and it was while I was inspecting this area one day in 1986 I made a very expensive discovery, one of the lads had moved a lot of rubbish in an area under the stone steps up to the engine house and he came to me to ask me to have a look at what he had uncovered. It was solid asbestos and I had no option but to withdraw all the labour, get the Environmental Health in and have tests done. The result was a disaster, they found asbestos in several areas and it became obvious that the original clearance had been botched and we had to do the whole exercise over again. I got some prices and then arranged a meeting with our major funders, English Heritage. I was going to leave funding until later but we should address what happened here because apart from anything else, it’s a good story!

In Summer 1986, Gavin Bone and I went into the meeting with English Heritage with a few problems, the biggest of which was the asbestos. Funding negotiations like this are usually very difficult, there is nothing funders hate more than expensive surprises. We started our list of requirements and after a while I asked if we could adjourn for a smoke for a minute or two. I got Gavin outside and told him that I smelt a rat. The coded signals I was getting from English Heritage were that no reasonable request would be refused. We decided to put it to the test and went back in and asked for a decision to fund in principle on a whole raft of measures. EH agreed to it all and in addition, said they would fund the asbestos removal 85% which was unheard of. Eventually, after the English Heritage people had gone, Gavin and I sat down together and tried to work out what had happened. We failed, all we knew was that we had got everything we asked for and a brown paper bag to take it away in.

Years later I worked out a possible reason for what had happened. Evidently when the old London County Council, presided over by Ken Livingstone, was disbanded, the residual body found when they took over that many of the computer files were corrupted. One of the effects of this was that they weren’t able to proceed with claims for funding against English Heritage for conservation projects under their control in London. This meant that EH had a shortfall in their spending and rather than allow this to revert to the Treasury they decided to make the money available to projects already under way in the country at large. The problem here was that it takes a long time to plan, cost and negotiate funding so EH were looking to bring forward schemes already in place. Gavin and I were in the right place at the right time and got Ellenroad got the benefit of the windfall.

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The final asbestos clearance in 1986.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 02 Dec 2018, 03:57

THE CHIMNEY

The chimney at Ellenroad was 70 yards high originally. You will find that most stacks built at this time are measured in yards. It was built of brick and had set offs at about every thirty feet. That is, as the stack rose it lost one brick of thickness for every thirty feet but was still three bricks thick at the head. It tapered as it rose, this is called the batter and the rate was three quarters of an inch in one yard of height. The Ellenroad stack was different than most in that the initial set offs at the base where the broad foundation narrowed to the diameter of the main structure were above ground. I think this is because they wanted the base of the foundation to be above the water table and remember, Ellenroad was in a valley bottom next to the River Beal. In some land adjacent to the chimney we dug a hole thirty feet deep during the demolition phase to get rid of some very large pieces of concrete. We were in black loam all the way down and hit water. This was to be significant later in another respect!

At some point in the late 50’s as near as I could make out there had been a problem with the integrity of the chimney head and the steeplejacks had ’cured’ it by removing the drum from above the oversailer, this is the flange shaped rim of stones just below the head. This ‘oversailer’ is common to most brick or stone chimneys and is an effort to reduce down draught at the top of the stack. The stones which form the oversailer are cantilevered out to give the flange and rely on the weight of the drum above to keep them in place. Removal of the drum damages the integrity of this structure and it should never have been done. One of my first jobs was to replace this drum.

Round chimneys are constructed with specially shaped bricks. The stretchers are curved and the headers are wedge shaped. The amount of curve and taper varies with the diameter of the chimney and alter as the chimney rises. At the time we rebuilt the Ellenroad drum these bricks were no longer made so I had to find a source.

At this time a steeplejack called Ronnie Goggins had the contract to dismantle the redundant chimney at Mons Mill in Todmorden. I went there one morning to see whether the bricks they were dropping were of any use to me. Mons Mill chimney interested me because I knew that it had been altered after it was built. The mill was originally to be called Hare Mill and about two thirds of the way up the chimney there had been a glazed brick panel about twelve feet deep which depicted a running hare and the name ‘HARE’. During the construction of the mill the entrepreneurs ran short of money. They had contracted with the firm of Carels Freres from Mons in Belgium to supply the gigantic 3,000hp cross compound engine that was to drive the mill. No doubt in an effort to ensure their contract was paid, Carels invested money in the mill on condition that its name was changed to Mons. This presented a difficulty as the panel depicting the hare had already been incorporated in the structure as it was built. The story I had heard was that the chimney builders were instructed to cut out the redundant panel and replace it with one saying ‘MONS.’ They did this but I reckoned they wouldn’t have been able to replace the header bricks that keyed back into the next course in. I was curious to see if I was right.

When I arrived on site, young Ronnie Goggins and his mate were on the head working on the demolition. I climbed up their ladders which were very badly fixed. They hadn’t cut new dog holes for their dogs and wedges but had followed any unfilled holes they could find on the stack. The consequence was that the ladders meandered all over the place and were a trifle insecure in places! When I got to the top ladder there were three rungs missing out of it and it wasn’t fastened at the top. I halted and addressed young Ronnie. “I know you’ll think I’m a wimp but could you please tie the top of the ladder on before I come up it?” Ronnie laughed and walked round the rim of the chimney. We were at about 180 ft and what made it impressive was the fact that four years earlier, Ronnie had lost a leg in a motorcycling accident! I crawled on to the rim and sat there while I examined the state of the bricks. They were just what we needed and had been made at Newhey Brickworks just behind Ellenroad where all the original brick for the mill had come from. I arranged with them to drop the good bricks separate from the others and I would send a gang across to gather them up. We did this and used this brick on Ellenroad chimney head. We were still some bricks short but Ronnie was dropping Jubilee chimney at Padiham at that time and we made up our numbers with ten tons of bricks from there.

One last thing about Mons chimney. The locals always said it was so high there that you could always see snow from the top! The reason for this becomes clear if you think about what MONS looks like if viewed upside down. I told Ronnie about the change of name and he told me later that when they came to the panel it was as I suspected. There were no key bricks, the whole panel was a single skin construction separate from the body of the chimney. Ronnie said it peeled off in big sections when they came to it.

Image

Mons chimney, Steve Goggins on the right. Young Ronnie on the left. Stephen only had one leg after a motor bike accident.

Image

The Carel Freres engine installed at Mons to serve both sides of the mill. I say both sides as originally the mill was to have two wings, one on either side of the engine but due to subsidence problems and a downturn in trade the second half was never built so the engine never operated at full power. Newton went to see it running and told me it was badly adjusted, ran too slow and must have been a wastrel. It was reputed to be the biggest mill engine in Lancashire. Exceeded only by some steel rolling mill engines.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 03 Dec 2018, 06:21

Back at Ellenroad Peter Tatham and I had to decide how we were going to tackle the job of rebuilding the head. I had already found a big flue door on site which was redundant and we decided we would cut a hole in the square flue box at the base of the chimney to give us access to the base and that when we were finished we would put the large cast iron door in so that we had easy access to the flues for maintenance afterwards, We scaffolded the top of the stack, put a snatch block on the structure and had a rope almost 500 feet long from an electric winch at the bottom into the bottom of the stack round a snatch block anchored in the chimney base and up to the head, over the snatch block mounted there, and down to the bottom where we fitted a large cast iron weight and a hook on the end of the rope. In effect we had converted the stack into a mine shaft and the addition of a five gallon bucket meant we could hoist all our materials up to the top through the flue. This worked well and eased our labours considerably.

The next job was to decide what height the drum should be built to, we had no drawings, only a photograph taken in 1915 when the mill burned down. Peter and I were discussing this on the top of the chimney and he said that when he used to work on the stack with his grandfather he remembered that he couldn’t quite see over the top of the drum when stood on the toeboard of the scaffold. I got him to stand there and marked the scaffold pole at the level of his eyes then I added two inches for shrinkage over the years! We cut a mark on the scaffold pole and that was the height we built it to. When we had finished the eye told us that we had got it as near right as we could have. It looked exactly the same proportion as the original photograph.

The most important part of a chimney head is the finishing courses on the drum. This is what gets all the weather and is attacked by the fumes in the flue gas. When new, various materials were used, solid stone, cast iron or specially cast terracotta segments. Peter cast the concrete rim at Ellenroad in six segments joined together by one inch diameter copper bars, two to each joint. The joints were sealed with bitumen. This made a very strong and durable rim which would last for longer than we cared to think about! He told me he once saw that Firs were demolishing a chimney that he had put a new rim on by this method and he had a word with the jack in charge on the site intending to warn him about this. Professional rivalry arose and it became evident that Firs’ man didn’t want to know anything Peter told him. Peter said that the consequence was that when they dropped the chimney, the rim rolled off down the hill like a big Polo Mint and demolished part of the mill! He added that they weren’t much good as they felled the stack on their air compressor! Their is always an element of rivalry in trades.

There was one funny story about our job at Ellenroad. Peter had a young lad working for him at the time. He was a cheeky little bugger but sharp with it. I arrived one morning just as he was setting up at the chimney base to start hauling bricks up to the top. He was looking puzzled and I asked him what was the matter. “I don’t like this chimney, it’s haunted!” I asked him what brought him to this conclusion and he said he’d show me. He went into the chimney base and held the weighted hook on the fall of the tackle until it was still. Then he stood back and said “In ten minutes that hook will be swinging until it touches the wall!” I took him to the hut and we had a cup of tea. When we went back, sure enough the hook was gently swinging like a pendulum and was almost touching the side. He said “There you are, I told you so. It must be haunted, there’s no wind to move the chimney!”

He was right of course, it wasn’t the wind but it wasn’t haunted either. I told him that what we had was probably the best Foucault Pendulum in the world as its moment was over 200 feet! I explained that what he was looking at was a vibration caused by the earth wobbling on its axis as it turned and that the principle had been understood for hundreds of years. I don’t know whether he believed me but he seemed happier about it afterwards!

Over the eight years I was there we did a lot of work on the chimney. Peter retired before we had finished. He recommended that I get Brooke Edgeley as my jacks, they came from Batley and were excellent. I used them on all my chimney work afterwards. The final job we did was to strip all the bands off the chimney, refurbish them and re-instate them. We pointed the whole of the chimney and coated it with three coats of boiled linseed oil as protection. This was a massive job and I remember Tommy Brookes and Keith Batley telling me that nobody would ever do a stack so well again! Peter died at about this time and was cremated at Rochdale. Daniel Meadows came up for the funeral and as we stood outside the crematorium Dan looked back and said “I suppose it’s the last chimney Peter will ever climb!” The nice thing about it was that when the lads from Brooke Edgeley came to ladder the Ellenroad chimney at the beginning of the final contract, the one who was fixing the ladders asked me who had rebuilt the drum. I told him and he said he wished he could have served his apprenticeship under Peter. I thought that was a great compliment and called in to tell Dot, Peter’s widow, on the way home. She was pleased as well. Jack Brookes told me it was the last chimney they would ever do to that standard as nobody cares about them nowadays. I agreed with him but remembered this conversation much later!

By the time we had finished with the chimney it was like new and a credit to all concerned. I always said it was my memorial, when I die they can cremate me and put my ashes in the chimney base, I reckon it’s as good a memorial as any you could want.

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Tom Philips on the left and Peter Tatham on the right working in the smallest building site in Rochdale.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 04 Dec 2018, 04:38

SIBERIAN INTERLUDE


I did a lot of travelling but no, I didn’t go to Siberia! So why the heading? There is a mill at Brierfield Called Finsley Gate and the locals always called it Siberia because they said it was so cold. Newton Pickles had removed the engine for storage by the Science Museum, they intended to re-erect it in the museum at South Kensington in London. They eventually did this but Brown and Pickles wouldn’t have anything to do with it because as Newton said when he heard they were going to run it with an electric motor, “I don’t want anything to do with clockwork engines!” If it wasn’t going to be steamed he wasn’t interested!

Plans changed however and a decision was made to run it in steam. All the work was done and in December 1985, Rod Law who was Keeper of Steam at South Kensington, asked me down to have a look. He wanted to show his new toy off I think on the quiet. I went down and looked at the installation and to put it bluntly, I was horrified by what they’d done.

I know, you can smell another of Stanley’s stories where he knew better than anybody else. That’s about the size of it and I’m not going to apologise, all I can do is tell the truth, not because of the fact I was right, but to illustrate what can happen when ‘experts’ decide they know better than anybody else.

I shan’t go into a long list of technicalities but will briefly list where they went wrong. The interesting bit is what happened later. The engine itself had been properly and competently installed by a firm called Rileys from Heywood near Manchester. The only problems I could see were that the receiver between the cylinders was too small and the wrong sort of drains had been fitted, Where the designers had really slipped up was in the water supply to the air pump. The term ‘air pump’ is a misnomer really, it is more properly an exhauster, its function is to get the condensed steam out of the cylinder and drop it into a drain, it was never intended to lift condensing water a long way or discharge it at any distance. The set-up at South Kensington included a long run of pipework to a remote cooling tower and as soon as I saw it I pointed out that it was wrong. There was very little interest in what I was saying but I told them and sent a letter afterwards to a bloke called Wright who was taking over Rod’s job. As far as I was concerned, that was it. They did ask whether I wanted an invitation to the first steaming and I told them I’d rather not be anywhere near it!

Later in 1986, about the end of June I think, I was with David Sekers from Quarry Bank and after we had finished our business we had lunch together and he told me of an incident at the Science Museum the week before. He had been in Neill Cosson’s office, Neill was in charge at South Kensington, with another High Panjandrum from the heritage industry and they were having a fairly high powered discussion about various matters when a person came into the office and said something to the Director about water on the floor in the museum. Neill left in a hurry saying he would return shortly and left the other two wondering why Neill was so bothered about the cleaning arrangements, they thought he might have delegated this matter! He returned shortly afterwards and they finished the meeting and left. Now as soon as David said this my ears pricked up. I don’t know whether David knew what had happened, he certainly didn’t tell me and personally, I think he just thought it was a quaint occurrence and that was why he told me. I stored the information away and kept quiet.

A few days later the phone rang one evening and I think it was John Robinson who had been delegated to approach me. As soon as he came on the line I told him I knew why he was ringing me. He said I couldn’t possibly know so I told him I thought they had run the Siberia engine and either got a slug in the low pressure and cracked the cover or they’d split the air pump. There was silence for a second and then John asked me how I knew. I told him that I’d heard on the grapevine that there was water on the floor in the East Hall and I’d put two and two together. He told me I was right, they’d split the air pump and would I come down and have a look. I told him I wasn’t interested in being a member of a committee and I’d only come if I was the sole source they were consulting, further, I said I wanted to take Newton as well, the more practical brains we had the better. They sent us two tickets and Newton and I went down.

Newton knew about the cock-up with the installation because I had told him. He agreed with me on the train down that my diagnosis was correct, there was too much head on the air pump and they’d split it. When we got to the museum we were taken straight to the engine which was just as they’d left it after the accident. Newton had a look round while I asked for some spanners and started taking the cover off the inboard end of the pump because that was where I suspected the split would be. I had it off in short time and felt inside. The casting was corroded away until it was like thin cardboard and there was an annular slit three parts of the way round just inside the cover. They asked me what they should do. I said it wasn’t worth getting another one cast, I advised them to take it out and get a replica fabricated in boiler quality steel, it would be quicker, cheaper and stronger. Newton agreed. Further, I told them that they hadn’t cured the problem when they did this. The lay-out was wrong and if they ran it like that, sooner or later they would get a build up of condensate, a slug in the cylinder and they would have an even worse smash-up. In other words they had got away lightly because the air pump had acted as a weak link and given up before anything serious happened to the engine. Once the air pump was strengthened the fault would go to the next weak spot, the low pressure cylinder. I sent them a report when I got home which said the same things and suggested a remedy. I don’t think they even acknowledged the letter. I never heard anything more about it. Apart from the train tickets, all Newton and I got was a meagre lunch. Ah well, at least we had the chance to tell them!

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The Siberia engine in the Science Museum.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 05 Dec 2018, 07:08

I should add a codicil here. I had always assumed that my advice on the measure necessary to get rid of the faults in the piping of the intake and exit from the air pump had been ignored as it meant installing a tank to act as a lodge in the cellar beneath the engine and the museum carpentry department who were using it as a workshop refused to play ball. Later I found out that Michael Wright, the man in charge had recognised that I was right and had fought long and hard for the modifications. I am not sure whether, in the end, he succeeded. See THIS Entry in Wikipedia and note the work he did later on the Antikythera mechanism which is a triumph in its own right. I do know that other factors came into play and internal politics played a big role but I am keeping quiet about that, it involves people who are still alive and I am not interested in raking old matters up. Back to Ellenroad!

AUSTRALIAN DIVERSION

By the autumn 1986 it became obvious that the Environmental Health Department of the council wanted control of the whole asbestos removal contract. There was little doubt that their method would be the most expensive but on the other hand, it would be thorough and they would carry the responsibility. On the whole it was a good thing for me and I laid back and accepted it. There was another reason for off-loading the whole exercise on to the council, Mary and I had a trip to Australia planned and father’s ashes were going back home. But that's another story!

ELLENROAD FUNDING

The Ellenroad Project as it had become known was functioning well by the beginning of 1986. I had obtained enough initial funding and manpower to press on with my programme and could devote some serious time to yet more fund-raising. The first thing to say is that I didn’t raise all the funds for the project. Alan Brett and Andrew Underdown, the local councillors and John Pierce were instrumental in obtaining funds, or triggering me off to approach funders that were local. I dealt with day to day matters on site and all the private sector and central government funding. It might be helpful here if I told you what my basic approach was.
The first thing to recognise is that if you are seeking funding from any source the most important thing to start with is a good cause. This sounds simplistic but is at the root of the matter. Ellenroad was a worthy case, it had so much going for it. It was the last large steam textile mill engine in its original house with all its artefacts intact and was so sited that it had a good catchment area. Because of the proximity to the motorway network, if you drew the isochrones for Ellenroad on the map, (these are lines showing travelling times) the 1 ½ hour line enclosed an area with a population of over 15 million people, one of the best ride times in Europe. In order to support this case you have to have clear objectives, a well worked out and costed overall plan and separate, clearly identifiable segments of that plan which you can cost accurately, give proper time scales for and use these as the basis for funding applications. Funding bodies like to have a menu. They also like to feel that whoever is applying the for the funding is in complete control, both by knowledge of the project and familiarity with all the technologies involved.
The next principle to grasp is that funding is almost always plural, in other words a partnership between the Trust and a number of funders for one segment. The most important funding in this segment is that which the Trust brings to the table which is the result of its own efforts. In other words, funds raised by volunteers dedicated to helping the project. A few hundred quid from jumble sales can trigger off tens of thousands, funders need to know there is local support
The next important thing to realise is that funders are in the business of giving money away. They are never happier than when they are handing out large cheques. The faster they can do this, the sooner they can get out on to the golf course! So, the essential thing you have to do is to persuade them that you are kosher. The best way to do this is to be able to show that one of the funders is so prestigious as to be a guarantee to all the other participants. I tackled this one early on and decided that apart from English Heritage who were high prestige but almost duty bound to fund, we needed something special. I remembered the National Heritage Memorial Fund which was initially funded after the war from the sale of war surplus goods. In later years it became the funder of last resort for national treasures or works of high art which, if not bought by a museum, would leave the country. The only industrial artefact they had ever funded to my knowledge was Clevedon Pier and I think there were some quite serious problems with that. When I approached them and invited the acting Director to come up and see what we were doing I was flying a kite. He came, he saw, we conquered! They became 25% funders of the main structural elements of the project like the back wall, the chimney and big refurbishing jobs on the structure of the engine house itself. The ability to say that you were funded 75% by EH and NHMF was probably the best commendation any segment of the project could have.
The next most important attribute that attracts funders is success. If you can reel off details of total cost of project, proportion funded in say three years and then give menu of projects left to accomplish you excite people and they want to be associated with success. A concomitant of this is the fact that you have to demonstrate that you are keeping the momentum, that the overall project is rolling forward like a juggernaut. This internal dynamism is a most valuable asset and generates confidence and funding at the same time. It is most damaging if the impetus is lost for any reason. A classic example was the failure of Pennine Heritage at Queen Street Mill, this was a tremendous set-back for that project and has never been entirely overcome. Strangely enough, the most likely source of loss of momentum is not some unforeseen need for funding, like the second asbestos clearance at Ellenroad but internal schisms in the management structure of the organisation. This is the reason why it is essential to get the management structure and responsibilities clear at the outset. Even with all this in place there is no guarantee that problems won’t be generated internally.
There was a case in point at Ellenroad. I was always on the lookout for new talent. People with special skills who we could co-opt into the organisation to give us the benefit of their specialist knowledge. Early in 1987 I found such a man, Ray Colley. He was a retired TV executive who was living in Rochdale who was looking for fresh fields to conquer. We approached him and he came to help as a volunteer, sitting on several committees and generally being a useful adjunct to the organisation. I can’t say that I got on well with him, he was a little too abrupt for my liking but there was nothing that said we had to like each other, just that we got on with our jobs.
Earlier on, I had head-hunted another volunteer, Horace Longden. I needed someone to act as chairman of the Friends Organisation I wanted to found to provide the cadre of volunteers to actually run the engine eventually. This was a major stone in the foundations of the project because, in effect, because of the way I had written the Articles of Agreement of the Trust separate from the organisation of the Friends, the Friends would actually run the enterprise and the Board of Directors only control was over the broad policy, major funding and the Project Manager who was the buffer between the Friends and the Board. I tried twice to get the Friends off the ground and failed. It wasn’t until I got Horace to have a go and I stepped back that it succeeded. I was the wrong person for the job and it took two failures to convince me! Slow learner again.
Horace was a star, a gem and one of the most perfect gentlemen I have ever been privileged to meet. He was totally reliable, always absolutely correct and one of the most able organisers I have ever seen in action. His forte was people, he understood them far better than I and his management style was the epitome of the iron fist in the velvet glove. Indeed, the glove was so velvet that a lot of people who know him would not recognise that description. If Horace decided that a principle was involved he was a force to be reckoned with. By 1987 he was chairman of the Board of Directors at Ellenroad and I used to wonder at the members of the committee who mistook his measured and low key style for bumbling. I had no control over the Directors and wondered at times about some of them.
Back to 1987. I think it was sometime in summer, July perhaps, I got word that there was a move afoot to remove a lot of my power, reduce my wage and install Ray Colley as Project Manager. My attitude was that I didn’t want to play this game, if the directors were so disloyal, or dissatisfied with my work that they wanted me out that was up to them. I wasn’t going to argue because I had achieved my main objective, I had saved the Ellenroad Engine and made sure the buildings were stable. I was sure I had a lot left to contribute but I wasn’t going to go into a decline if they took that away from me.
I always attended the Board meetings to make my reports and give advice. Horace asked me to go up to see him on the day of the meeting. I went round to his house and he told me exactly what was going to happen. He said that Gavin Bone was going to back a motion that would result in me taking a back seat at a reduced salary and Ray Colley was going to be proposed in my place. I told Horace what my attitude was, I wasn’t interested, if they wanted me out I would go but there would be no back seat driving. My assessment was that what they were after was the job and the salary, they wanted me to stay on to do the same work I had done all along at a lower wage. Forget it! Horace gave me a long lecture about strategy and told me that I had to keep my temper and leave it up to him. I trusted him so I left it entirely in his hands.
The Board Meetings were held in the Gothic splendour of Rochdale Town Hall, a wonderful building designed by the same architect as the House of Commons and having possibly more wood panelling and encaustic tiles to the square foot than Parliament! Very soon after the meeting started Horace announced that a motion was proposed which affected my position and asked me to withdraw. I left and went for a beer in the Flying Horse, a nearby pub. After about half an hour I was asked back in and my new terms were announced, I was to get slightly more money and all my powers were left intact. Ray Colley was offered a minor role at a small salary but I think he eventually refused it. Later I asked Horace why he had backed me, he said he thought I was too passionate and headstrong to be a good manager in normal circumstances but the evidence was that it was these characteristics that had brought Ellenroad so far so fast. He also doubted if anyone else had the funding contacts and the basic knowledge of steam engines. I took this as a vote of confidence and carried on but after that I always watched my back. As for my mate Gavin Bone, I crossed him off the Christmas Card list and managed without the benefit of his company.

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Horace Longden with the Mayor at Ellenroad in the early days. He was a lovely bloke and just the right man for the Friends.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 06 Dec 2018, 04:51

Looking back, all this was a big shock to me. I discussed it at length with Mary and others who’s opinion I respected and came to some conclusions about it. Cast your mind back to West Marton Dairy and what I said about the reasons why it was so enjoyable working there. We all knew our job and apart from day to day adjustments of timing or priorities, we were left alone to get on with it. We never had to worry about our mates wanting our jobs, nobody was looking to use us as a stepping stone to greater things. The same applied at Bancroft. What I was experiencing at Ellenroad was a symptom of what was happening in industry outside my zone of comprehension and experience. There was no such thing as loyalty, everyone was expendable. I recognised what I called Management by Attrition creeping in at Coates. People were being pushed to deliver more for the same money. Posts vanished overnight and the workload was spread amongst the survivors. The whole ethos was accountant led, the bean counters were coming to the fore and as far as I can see are still in charge. I was having a conversation with Tom Clarke, the founder of Silentnight,, the bedding company in Barlick once in his hi-tech office at Salterforth. I asked him what it was like to be heading the biggest bedding company in the world and how things had changed since he started making mattresses in his back yard after the war financed with his gratuity. He told me it had gone to hell in a basket. In the early days he had been in control but now, as head of the biggest mattress makers in the world he was powerless. He put it down to his accountants and gave me a definition that I have always remembered, “An accountant is a man who turns the radiators off as he passes them in a corridor.” I like that, think about it!
I made up my mind then and there that I would never do anything where I had to rely on other people again. Basically I function best as a loner and that was the goal from now on. For the time being however, I had a project to run.
My biggest single task was chasing funding. I drummed it into the directors time and time again that it wasn’t the project manager’s job to get the funding, the directors should be responsible. They never saw it that way and left the subject alone because I was doing so well. On the quiet, this suited me because it made me the single most important asset the Trust had got. I loved standing up and announcing that we had gained additional funding of X thousands of pounds for such and such a segment of the work. Nobody ever said “Well done!”, they just sat there and noted the figures. At one point I was advocating that we should register for VAT but kept being put off by the Borough Treasurer who said it would be no advantage. Eventually I persuaded the directors to let me have a crack at it. I applied for VAT registration, got it and told the directors we had a refund coming on all the capital spending we had done, I forget the amount now but I think it was £28,000. You’ll laugh at this but this was actually fairly small beer at the time. I was pulling funding in as though there was no end to it!
What very few people realised was the amount of work that went into getting this money. I used to go home at night and do six hours letter writing and application building almost every day. When things got bad I’d leave Graham Riley my manager in charge and spend all day on funding, say 16 hours! All these letters are in the files at Ellenroad but I don’t suppose anybody actually reads them. One thing I did religiously, every morning, first thing before I did anything else, I’d pull one file out and sit there and read it right through. I used to mark the position of that file with a card and the following day I’d read the next one. I can thoroughly recommend this to anyone in the same position. It was the single most valuable task I did in the day. Apart from reminding me what the original objective was it triggered off the back half of my head and a couple of days later a thought would pop up from nowhere which was useful and often productive. Read the files!
Mention of Graham Riley, who succeeded Peter Cunningham as manager of the MSC team reminds me that I should say something about his contribution. He was a wonderful site manager. He knew where the bodies were buried in the council and many a time would come to me with a thought or suggestion that usually led to a van load of materials or equipment landing on the site. I always used to describe him and me as ferrets, we always had a piece of chalk in our pockets and if we went anywhere that could be a source of plunder we marked up what we wanted and then got permission to send the lads in to get it. Our targets were council departments, hospitals, engineering firms and any demolition site in the area! I always said that the bald figures in the accounts only told half the story, we stole as much as we bought. I used to get into trouble for describing it as stealing but it seemed more romantic and dangerous that way! A good example of Graham’s contacts was when he came to me one day and said he knew where there was some ‘interesting stuff’ in the foothills of the Pennines beyond the motorway on the way up to Rockingstones. He was a bit cagey about it but I told him to get a van, take the lads and go looting. He came back with most of the biggest set of cylinder boring tackle I have ever seen in my life, including the steam engine that drove it! It was reputed to be the boring tackle used at Ellenroad between the wars. When he started at Ellenroad Graham was a typical, play-it-safe council employee but I soon corrupted him and he became one of the best foragers I have ever seen. He was worth tens of thousands of pounds to the Trust and they never knew it!
Any account of Ellenroad funding would be incomplete without mention of the close links I always had with the Chief Executives office at the Town Hall. In the beginning it was John Towey who saw the potential of Ellenroad and was instrumantal in setting up the Steering Committee which got the project off the ground. He made John Pierce, the Chief Planning Officer chair of the committee and in 1986 John retired and John Pierce took over as Chief Executive.
Rochdale was always a forward thinking council, largely because it was Labour controlled in my opinion, and they had a very strong twinning policy. There were regular visits between Bielefeld in West Germany and Rochdale and Ellenroad soon became a essential venue for a visit as the guests toured round the borough. It was good for the town to be seen as sponsors of the biggest industrial archaeological project in the country and full advantage was taken of it. I soon got to know some of the regular visitors, Klaus Schwickert, who was the mayor of Bielefeld was particularly impressive. I remember that the first time he came he listened to all we had to tell him, looked carefully at everything and then took me on one side. “Do you know the German phrase that Audi use in their advertisements?” he said. “Yes.” I replied, “Vorsprung durch technic.” “Do you know what it means?” “Yes, ‘Progress through technology’” “Good! Do you know the meaning of the Yiddish word chutzpah?” “Yes, one definition is a man who throws himself on the mercy of the court as an orphan after killing his parents!” “Good, I suggest you should have a similar expression as a slogan at Ellenroad, Vorsprung durch chutzpah!” I think that was possibly the best definition we ever got of our corporate management style!
Years later John Pierce told me about the first visit made to Bielefeld by Rochdalians. He said that one man was in conversation with a local lady and she asked him whether he had ever been to Bielefeld before. He answered yes, he had been many times years ago. She asked if he recognised any of the features from that time, he said not really, all German towns looked the same from 3,000 ft. when you were bombing them! On the same visit the mayor took his guests to the top of a turret in the castle from where there was a magnificent view of the country around. One mill owner was heard to say “By heck, I’ll bet you had a good view of the bombers coming in from here!” Like Stockport, Bielefeld had a strategic railway viaduct and we were trying to knock it our right through the war. It was eventually destroyed by one of Barnes Walliss’ ‘Earthquake’bombs.
John was a wonderful ally in the fight to keep the Ellenroad Project going. I was always conscious that he was actually CEO of a company that employed 10,000 people and there were tremendous demands on his time but he always responded when I called for help. He will reappear when I talk about the Whitelees Engine.
I could go on to very boring lengths about funding but I shan’t. I think in the end the figure for actual cash was something like £3 ½ million, add in gifts in kind, the MSC contribution and indirect subsidy through MSC from the council and I think you reach a figure of approximately £4 ½ million. I still boggle at this figure myself, it was an enormous sum and as someone once pointed out to me, if this had been on a national monument in London I would have got the OBE! No chance of this happening in Rochdale, my version of it is that I upset too many people in the drive to accomplish our aims.

Image

Me and Graham in the engine house. Much later I acted as witness for him in a claim for compensation when he found he had Mesothelioma most likely contracted at Ellenroad. He died because of it and it concentrates your mind wonderfully! Why did it get him and not me?
Stanley Challenger Graham
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 07 Dec 2018, 04:52

HOTELS AND CAR PARKING

You may well ask what these subjects have to do the conservation of Ellenroad. I would have had difficulty answering this question if I’d been asked at any time in the first 18 months at Ellenroad but it soon became obvious that the long term success of the Ellenroad Project depended on factors which at first, seemed entirely separate. Some explanation is needed.

When I had my first meeting with Tony Welton and Gavin Bone in 1984 I set out an overall plan for the project. Two key parts of this plan never got done. One was the provision of the residential educational facility which would have given academic and financial depth to the project. The other, and more pressing matter was the provision of an external service building to give the facilities necessary for the day-to-day running of the engine house.

This latter was, to my mind, crucial to success in that we would be able to raise the quality of the experience of visiting the engine and, in the short term, would give us room for some community based activities. What we were looking at was a building that could provide space for an office for the Trust, toilet accommodation, a café, a meeting room and a small reception and exhibition area. It would become the main entrance to the engine house and the final layout of the conversion of the boiler room was designed with this in mind.

There was a piece of land between the engine house and the motorway which was owned by the council and had been earmarked in the Town Plan as the site for a hotel catering for traffic on the motorway. This made it into a potentially very valuable piece of land. Remember the catchment area I mentioned earlier. Under Treasury Rules the council had a duty to obtain the best price it could in any disposal of the site so their hands were tied, they couldn’t let the Trust have the land at an advantageous rate. It soon became obvious that the route to getting what we wanted on the land was by participating in the planning process connected with the sale of the land and the building of the hotel. The council recognised this and made it a condition of any sale that the building had to be designed sympathetically so as not to clash with the engine house and that the Trust should get some land and car parking out of the deal. This was the best we could hope for and Peter Dawson, the Trust’s architect and myself joined the process and fought our corner for the Trust.

Little did we know what we were letting ourselves in for! We spent five years in meetings and learned a hell of a lot about the economics and designing of hotels but fate always snatched victory away from us at the last minute. I’ll give a very simplified version of the course of the negotiations. Take it as read that there were many more firms and people involved on the periphery.

We started with a French company called Campanile who were never a really serious starter because all they wanted to do was put up a concrete box and sell cheap grub to motorway travellers. After twelve months of desultory negotiations they fell out of the frame.

The next approach was from a firm called Pleasureama who operated casinos but had a subsidiary company called Commodore Hotels. They were looking for sites and one day Peter Dawson and I found ourselves in a meeting with a bloke called Tom Keegan. The purpose of the meeting was to establish the basis for negotiations between Commodore and the Trust. I think that when Commodore came they thought that they were paying a courtesy call to smooth the way to pursuing their scheme and regarded it as a PR exercise more than anything else. They got a bit of a shock when they realised just how much control we had over what happened on the site. However, we weren’t in the business of raising obstacles and soon convinced them that we weren’t a threat but an ally. We were raising the possibilities of co-operation, mutual promotion and laying the basis of a fruitful partnership. In the end we convinced them that there was merit in having a major heritage attraction on their doorstep and the meeting relaxed. It got so relaxed that Tom Keegan started to tell us his life story which, if it was true, was quite incredible. The facets of his career bounced from British Leyland, General Motors, entering a monastery and running a housing association on the Wirral to his present position as a major shareholder in a casino operator. Peter and I were enthralled. When we came out of the meeting I told Peter the guy was either the best con-man I had ever met or a genius, I didn’t know which, the jury was out.

Negotiations with Commodore moved slowly forwards and we got to the stage where we had the whole thing buttoned up. Peter had put a lot of time and effort into designing the exterior of the hotel and laying out the site and we thought we had quite a good result for the Trust. Then came the bombshell. Pleasureama were the subject of a take-over bid and yet another developer fell out of the frame.

Back to square one but so many firms had been helping to develop the plans for the hotel, all at risk, that the only way they could recoup their losses was to encourage another developer to take over the scheme. It wasn’t long before a bloke called Julian Peck from Manchester turned up with another prospect, British Airports Authority. I think their subsidiary which managed their hotels was called Associated Leisure. We started another round of negotiations on another hotel!

We went through the whole weary process again. In my efforts to get the best deal for the Trust I gave as much help and advice as I could. I brought everybody’s attention to the fact that when the culvert under the motorway which carried the River Beal had been designed the design criteria had been inadequate and there was a danger that what was known as a ‘Fifty Year Event’ , in other words a flood that could be expected once every fifty years, would overwhelm the culvert and that the way out for the water was via the hotel site along the side of the motorway embankment. The brownie points I got for pointing that out and saving a costly mistake in the design enabled me to get my way in siting the provision of water and gas supplies to the hotel. My interest in this was dictated by the fact that the engine house was running on an inadequate water supply and no gas main.

We got to the point where a date was set for the start of the works and the surveyors moved in to start pegging the site out for the groundworks. Another bombshell dropped. BAA decided at main board level that all future hotel developments would be on their own land, in other words, at airports. The whole scheme went into the bin! Peter and I were annoyed to say the least. The only interesting thing that sticks in the mind about this set of meetings was the day that we were privy to a decision on how large the hotel was going to be. Peter and I sat in a meeting and had what was probably the best seminar in hotel design anybody could have. We noticed that they had brought a very old man with them. He was slightly infirm and they had to assist him into his seat. We wondered what he was doing there because he sat there and never said a thing. That is, until they got down to the specifics of room sizes and allocation of space within the building. Then the reason why the old bloke was there became clear. He had the answer to every question on the tip of his tongue. He knew exactly how big rooms had to be, how wide the corridors, how much space should be allocated to the different functions in the hotel and utility areas. In other words, he was a walking encyclopaedia on hotel design. It was a treat to watch him work. Another interesting thing we learned was that in the first year of operation the hotel would have 50% more staff than in subsequent years. This was to ensure that a reputation for service and efficiency could be built up quickly.

The bottom line was that Peter and I never cracked the problem of the exterior services for the Trust and this was to be a major stumbling block for the Trust. At the time of writing it still is so. I hear that Coates have managed to buy the land now but I have doubts whether enough corporate memory of the original concept remains embedded in the Trust to drive forward a final solution to the provision of the external services let alone the residential complex. Until this is done, Ellenroad will remain yet another amateur operation clinging on to the plot by the tips of its fingers and relying entirely on nostalgia to keep it afloat. It makes me sad but it’s not my problem any more.

Image

The site in 1987. The field is where the hotel was going to be and the M62 interchange is to the left. There were some exciting possibilities but we never managed to make them happen. I always had the feeling that we were pushing for a project too far in the eyes of the Directors. It was seen as empire building when in fact it was hard economic sense.
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 08 Dec 2018, 04:26

All the time, while the hotel planning was going on I was looking sideways to find other ways of extending Ellenroad’s options. I heard they were going to re-design the motorway junction to give access to the biggest piece of undeveloped land in the Greater Manchester area, the Kingsway site on the other side of the motorway. I suggested a link road between the Ellenroad site and Kingsway which would have opened up a lot of possibilities for us but it was never taken seriously.

Then I got wind that the Metro Link system in Manchester was to be extended to Rochdale. I suggested a station at Ellenroad and the use of the dead land inside the motorway junction as a car parking area for a park and ride facility at Ellenroad. Everybody agreed it was a good idea, especially if combined with a link road to the Kingsway site but again, the idea died for want of support.

Finally, my biggest plan was that Ellenroad should build an exhibition centre and start a firm of exhibition designers and builders as a way of generating funds for the Trust. In this latter I was aided by Bruce Robbins who had the original idea of the design facility and took it on himself when the Trust decided they didn’t want anything to do with it. I shan’t go into all the details but Bruce and I got the backing of the Arts Council and I drew up a spreadsheet to test the viability of the project. I got a result which showed that even if we gave away the exhibition space for six months of the year we still finished up with an amazing profit. I found a developer who would get us the funding and asked John Youngman, the Chairman of Coates Brothers, if he would get his finance director to cast his eye over my calculations as I didn’t trust them. He did and came back to tell me I was wrong, I had made a mistake, I had underestimated the profits! It was a licence to print money! However, when I presented it to the directors they refused to have anything to do with it. End of another brave try!

It was round about this time that Coates were taken over by the French firm Total Oil and I soon got them interested in supplying us with oil and looking favourably at our operation. Another prospect was the Co-operative Wholesale Society who had announced they were going to build their new headquarters in Rochdale. I started corresponding with them and laying the foundations of a funding approach to them. Time and time again I drove it home to the directors of the Trust that they should be looking for funding and further, that they should recognise that the leadtime to substantial funding was often measured in years. It’s eight years since I severed my connection with the Trust and it would be interesting to see what funding they have that couldn’t be traced back to the seed corn I was putting down ten years ago.

I think that’s enough about fund-raising. When I started at Ellenroad I knew next to nothing about site management, fund-raising and managing complex relationships between the Trust, the Council, Coates and the various funders. By the time we had finished I was pretty impressive. It was all new, a very steep learning curve and exactly what I was suited to at the time. I was lucky Coates found me, they were lucky they got the right bloke.

Once again, we need to dispose of a few small matters. 1986 was a very busy year apart from funding.

You will have noticed how much time I was spending writing grant applications, letter, minutes and memoranda. I’m sure you will also remember that I saw my first Apple computer in California in 1979. I was driving home one night and as I passed through Burnley a sudden thought came to mind and I parked up and walked into Dixons the electrical retailers. Ten minutes later I walked out with an Amstrad Word Processor with a massive 512k memory! I took it home, plugged it in and started my love/hate relationship with computers. It was a quantum leap forward but anyone who started with computers at that time will remember the trials and tribulations we had to go through. I can remember more than one occasion when I lost half a days worth of work and had to start all over again. Even so, productivity leapt up and I can remember how impressed everyone was when they realised that the Trust had embraced the computer age.

It was 1986 when I made another technological leap on the engine. I persuaded Dave Jones of SOS NDT at Bury to do a Non Destructive Test of the vital parts of the engine and charge us nothing. He came and did the same job for us he would have done for the Central Electricity Generating Board on one of their turbines. The engine passed with flying colours, there were no flaws in any of the rods or cranks. I asked Dave what his overall verdict was and he said that if the CGEB could get the same results with their turbine shafts they would be delighted.

In July 1987 Mary and I had two visitors at Overdale, Mary’s house at Addingham. They were John Robinson from the Science Museum and a bloke called Eberhardt Wechtler who was in charge of the Industrial Museum in Dresden in what was then the DDR, in other words, East Germany. He was over here to lecture and see some of the developments in British museums and John had brought him North to see Ellenroad.

It was while we were having a splendid meal in a Greek Restaurant in Ilkley that Eberhardt made a request. Evidently he had some sterling from lecture fees which he wanted to change into West German Marks before he left UK so that he could buy medical equipment for his daughter who had spina bifida, before he returned to the DDR. I asked him how much and he said that it had to be done in ‘modules’ of £500. And there were several ‘modules’! This gave me a bit of a problem as we were due to be at Ellenroad at six the following morning and Eberhardt had to be on a train out of Manchester at a quarter to nine!

There was only one thing to do, I rang Horace Longden! Horace ran a travel business and I reckoned he would have some contacts who would carry a stock of West German currency. I explained the problem to Horace and he said to leave it to him. The following morning we had a wonderful early morning ride over to Ellenroad via Lord Saville’s Moor and down into Hebden Bridge with the Mozart Requiem playing full blast on the stereo. We kept stopping to admire the field patterns and geological features. Eberhardt loved Ellenroad when he saw it and at seven o’clock prompt, a taxi drew up at the engine house and took Eberhardt and John away. John told me afterwards that he didn’t know where the taxi had taken them but they seemed to go to every travel agents between Ellenroad and Manchester. Eberhardt changed all his money and the driver refused to accept any fare when he dropped them off at Piccadilly Station in time for the train. Eberhardt was impressed but it was all down to Horace, that was the sort of organisation we had at Ellenroad then, all things were possible!
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Re: STEAM ENGINES AND WATERWHEELS

Post by Stanley » 09 Dec 2018, 04:28

WHEATSHEAF CENTRE AND VOLUNTEERS


By 1988 we had got as lot done at Ellenroad. The engines were ready to steam regularly for the public and I started doing this in summer. My problem was that I was the only person who could do it. For 18 months I ran the engines every weekend, year round, except for Christmas and New Year. I don’t think anybody realises to this day what hard work this was, I was working seven days a week and putting in an average of 100 hours. I knew this couldn’t go on and called for volunteers from the Friends organisation to attend a course at the engine house during which I gave them a basic grounding in the history, design, principles and day to day management of steam boilers and engines in general and Ellenroad in particular.

I forget now how long the course was I think it was about six months. We finished it by dividing the volunteers into teams and they ran the engine with me supervising. I gradually got to the stage by late 1989 where I could leave them on their own. I’ve always said that apart from getting the engines back in steam, this was the best piece of work I did while I was at Ellenroad. In effect, I made myself redundant once the heroic bit was done!

Embedded in the training of the volunteers was one historic moment for which I claim full and absolute credit. There were two ladies on the course who were very interested in the engine, Joan Smith from Northwich and Thelma Pollitt from Manchester. They were very good students and really took it all in. When I felt that they had reached the stage where they were ready for action I arranged for them to meet me at the engine house and run the engine with me, exactly as we had done several times before..

On the day appointed when they turned up at the engine house early in the morning I told them the bad news. They were running the engine on their own! I would follow them round and keep an eye on them but they were going to do it all on their own. I’ve seldom seen two women nearer to flight syndrome in my life! However, they soon got used to the idea and started by lighting the boiler. I’ll admit that the hoppers on the stokers were already full but then the lads used to do that for me anyway.

They never made a mistake and fired up, warmed and oiled the engine, started it and ran it from ten in the morning until four in the afternoon. I told them that as far as I was aware, this was the first time in the history of engineering that two women had run a 3,000hp. engine completely unaided. I was so pleased with them and made sure that they knew it. Funnily enough this didn’t go down well at all with the other volunteers. There was already a bit of infighting and jockeying to see who would be top dog, Chief Engineer in their terms, and the injection of competition in the shape of Joan and Thelma triggered off a bad attack of ill-concealed chauvinism. It wasn’t just the blokes who were volunteers, I well remember one visitor who was evidently an old engineer telling Joan one day that she ought to be making tea, not running the engine! I don’t think he will ever realise how near he was to having his face re-arranged! Joan’s day job was as a nurse on violent wards in a mental hospital. I told her, she could do my job but there was no way I could do hers. If ever I call in at Ellenroad and either of these two are there I’m always assured of a warm welcome and it’s one of the finest memories I carried away from Ellenroad.

During 1988 I had an enquiry from a firm of developers who were building a large shopping centre in the middle of Rochdale for the CWS. They wanted to have some sort of dramatic centre piece in the centre and had got their eye on a preserved engine in a modern house at the top of the town. They wanted my advice on moving and installing the Whitelees Beam Engine.

Image

The modern house at Holcroft Foundry that protected the Whitelees Engine.
Stanley Challenger Graham
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scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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