Full steam ahead at open weekend
8:25am Tuesday 1st January 2013 in News
STEAM engines which were once the workhorses that drove Lancashire’s cotton mills in their heyday are now enjoying a new lease of life.
And it’s thanks to the dedicated members and volunteers of the Northern Mill Engine Society, who are helping keep alive the machines which powered the industry before it fell into decline.
Almost 700 visitors to the Bolton Steam Museum over the weekend were able to see 27 of the engines in action once again, recalling the glory days when cotton was king.
Saturday and Sunday’s event was the latest in a series of steam open days held by the society, and there was a distinct local link — four of the engines were built in Bolton.
David Lewis, the society’s education officer, said: “The majority of the machines were used in cotton mills while one came from a rope works.
“The oldest is a steam engine made in 1840, which ran at a weaving shed in Wardle until 1957.
“The most recent is a steam engine from 1960, which was used in Preston to teach engineering students about steam.”
The society, which has about 200 members and 20 volunteers, was formed in 1966 by enthusiasts who decided something had to be done to preserve the steam engines from the textile industries before they were scrapped.
Mr Lewis said: “Many of the engines we have were put back together, having earlier been dismantled when they were taken from the mills.”
The museum in Mornington Road holds about 10 open days a year, which are always well attended.
The next one will be on May Day bank holiday.
Mr Lewis said: “We welcome people of all ages.
“Little boys, especially, love to see the wheels going round and the pistons going back and forth.”