Pocket Power Stations & Diesel Power - Internal Fire Roars Into Life

By David Prudames | 16 July 2003
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Shows a photograph of an engine on display at the museum.

Photo: the Petter TX1 Atomic Vertical Single Cylinder 2 Stroke Diesel - completely restored and on display from Monday! Courtesy of Internal Fire.

A brand new museum dedicated to the history of the internal combustion engine in industry over the last hundred years is set to open its doors to the public on Monday July 21.

Preparations have been underway since Paul and Hazel Evans moved into their specifically-bought farm in west Wales in 2001. Now, after years of putting it together, the couple are finally ready to show off their 40-strong collection of machines.

Through a combination of donations and purchases, they've brought together gas engines from as early as 1913 with machines from the days of diesel power in the 1920s and 1930s.

As Paul explained to the 24 Hour Museum, it is the diesel power era, when without the benefit of a national grid factories had to make their own electricity, that is the museum's main focus.

"The museum is trying to cover a part of history that's gone, a time when everyone was responsible for their own power." said Paul.

Shows a photograph of museum volunteer Keith putting the finishing touches to the displays.

Photo: museum volunteer Keith puts the finishing touches to the displays. Courtesy of Internal Fire.

"Factories were generating their own power, there wasn't a grid, and it is interesting to see, because without these machines the factories didn't run, people didn't work."

Aided by one volunteer, Paul and Hazel have put together a display that takes in the great names of internal combustion engine manufacture, including Tangye, Petter, Ruston Hornsby, Allen and Belliss & Morcom.

The couple have already had a great deal of interest, much of it coming from former employees of factories where these machines were once operated.

One of the collection's most important items is the Proteus Turbine recently donated to the museum by the South Western Electricity Board.

Shows a photograph of a view of the main barn looking over one engine's alternator.

Photo: a view of the main barn looking over the Tangye Pump's alternator with the Petter VJ2 on the left. Courtesy of Internal Fire.

When it was installed at Princetown on Dartmoor in 1959, this remotely operated, unmanned 'Pocket Power Station' was way ahead of its time and was internationally acclaimed.

While many of the engines have been fully restored to their original working order, it is the couple's aim to get the entire collection running so they can carry out demonstrations for visitors.

At the moment, the museum is simply a private and brave venture, but the Evans' long term plan is to create a trust and get charitable status before making it a registered museum.

While Monday's opening is a significant occasion, it doesn't signal an end to the years of preparation that have gone into creating the museum, as Hazel Evans explained.

"I don't think this museum's ever going to be finished," said Hazel. "This is not a static museum, this will grow because the whole aim is to preserve and conserve and if there's an engine out there that needs to be saved it's going to have to be found."

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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