Stott Mill Engine resurrected after 27-year rebuild by Anson Engine Museum heroes

By Culture24 Reporter | 21 September 2011
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A photo of a man in overalls operating a giant old steam engine
The Stott Mill Engine will return to public action for the first time in more than 50 years this weekend
A lovingly-restored giant steam engine from the industrial revolution will run for the first time in 50 years this weekend (September 24-25 2011) when the Stott Mill Engine, a former cotton mill juggernaut with the power of 250 horses, runs at the Anson Engine Museum in Cheshire.

The vast vehicle was donated to the museum by the nearby Albion Mill museum – locally known as Barton’s Mill – in 1984, having been instrumental in producing cotton wadding and wool for surgical dressings during wartime and protection for munitions.

Experts believe sections of the engine’s brass were sold by eagle-eyed profiteers, as several of its huge bearings were missing when it was handed over by site owners Kwik Save and Stockport Borough Council.

The museum’s charity status left it unable to afford the “horrendous cost” of moving the engine, but several years later trustees Les Cawley and Walter Higginbottom decided to embark upon the heroic task of transporting it.

Aided by fellow museum founder Geoff Challinor, who helped out during his days off from his full-time job, the intrepid team spent most of Spring 1984 dismantling their 60-ton artefact piece-by-piece.

Challinor was determined to help Cawley see the full engine during his lifetime. More than a decade later, he spent the summer of 1997 assembling it, although Cawley’s death in July 2002 meant he never got to witness the industrial wonder at the museum.

Several parts remained missing, so Challinor decided to build a beam-based cover for the engine, concentrating his energies on other callings around the museum in the hope of one day finding a team willing to resume his mission.

Finally, in 2005, a gang of volunteers set about tightening the cylinders, stones and plates, making and welding enormous new bearings, adding bespoke straps and rods and refitting vital parts such as a slide valve, air pump and condenser.

Invigorated by the sense of momentum they now had, the team connected a gas supply to the engine and gave it a major boiler inspection between 2009 and 2010.

Trustee Geoff Baker added a viewing gallery, described as “fabulous” by organisers at the award-winning heritage attraction, and the floors, walls and hand rails were restored to resemble the backdrops of the engine’s early 20th century pomp.

A test run in summer 2011 gave the team more ideas for fine tuning, meaning that this powerful symbol of local history should roll back into public view in consummate style.

  • Open 10am-5pm. Admission £2.50-£6.50 (free for under-12s).

Stott Engine facts:
  • Built by SS Stott in 1903
  • Horizontal cross compound engine
  • Cylinders 12.5 inches and 22 inches by three inches
  • Flywheel 10 foot in diameter with a weight of 10 tons
  • HP Corliss Valves, LP Slide Valves
  • Indicated horsepower 200-250hp

More pictures of the steam beauty:

A photo of an old brick building on an urban street
The engine's former home, at Barton's Mill in Hazel Grove
A black and white photo of a giant wheel from a steam engine in a mill
SS Stott built the cotton-concocting giant more than a century ago
A photo of a restored steam engine in a modern museum
The popular Anson Engine Museum will be particularly proud of an attraction it has been involved with restoring for decades
A photo of a steam engine inside an industrial museum
Several pieces from the engine are thought to have been sold, but the talented museum team rebuilt their labour of love
A photo of a giant wheel on a steam engine in a modern museum
The engine weighs a total of around 60 tons
A photo of a man in overalls testing an old steam engine in a museum
Tests carried out earlier this year allowed the restoration enthusiasts to fine-tune their work

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